Constitutional Philosophy for Regular Citizens, Part IV: The Immorality of Long-Term National Debt

Constitutional Philosophy for Regular Citizens, Part IV: The Immorality of Long-Term National Debt July 11, 2018

The following is Part IV of COS Project co-founder Michael Farris’s series on constitutional philosophy. Click here for Part Ihere for Part II, and here for Part III.

Thomas Jefferson wrote a lengthy letter to James Madison urging a rule against long term national debt.

He said: “would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19 years?”

Currently, there is no plan to actually retire any of our nation’s debt. We simply keep borrowing. So long as we can pay the interest on the continually mounting debt, our leaders seem content to keep spending like there’s no tomorrow.

The average age in Congress is 57 years old. They have no personal stake in the debt payments required 50 years from now. Those who are 1-17 years old today, have an enormous stake in the debts left in place 50 years from now.

But they can’t vote today and so those in Congress continue to buy votes with deficit spending being sure to load up the spending with things like free prescription drugs for seniors.

The Seniors don’t have to pay for the drugs. Congress doesn’t have to pay either. It just borrows the money. No one pays—today. But our grandchildren and great grandchildren for years to come will be paying for our “free drugs” Congress gave us.

Our grandchildren will be taxed for things they did not vote for. They will be taxed for things they didn’t use.

This is the ultimate taxation without representation.

That’s immoral and, I believe, unconstitutional.

The Constitution demands that Congress guarantees a Republican form of government. Taxation without representation is the singular most well known violation of this principle because of the prominence of this phrase during the American Revolution.

Paying off the existing debt is hard but not impossible. But it is impossible if we don’t stop spending on credit.

Congress benefits from this arrangement by buying votes without present pain of imposing current taxes sufficient to pay for all the spending. Lenders benefit because holding long term debt from the richest country on earth makes sense. My generation benefits because we get free stuff from Congress.

And until a sufficient number of Americans rise up and call this for what it is—stealing from the pockets of our grandchildren—it will continue.

We need to know the truth. Act on the truth. And spread the truth.

If the current generation wants stuff—we should pay for it today.

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