AIER President Denounces "Crazy" National Debt with John Stossel

The official US national debt has surpassed $20 trillion, not that any of us can imagine such an enormous sum of money, nor does that number include the greater level of unfunded liabilities.

AIER President Edward Stringham described the willingness of the US Congress to take on ever more debt as "crazy" when he recently appeared on a ReasonTV clip fronted by John Stossel — akin to a credit-card balance beyond one's capacity to pay.

A long-time journalist and TV presenter, formerly of the Fox Business Network, Stossel laments that nobody seems to care. Congress just keeps lifting the debt ceiling, even as its magnitude grows beyond the nation's entire annual economic activity.

"They're going to start caring," Stringham responds, "when they start looking at the dollars that they're going to have spend," presumably on higher taxes for the expenses of past generations.

Stossel astutely points out that inflating the debt away appears to be the preferred method for addressing it, a thinly veiled tax on working-class individuals via diminished purchasing power.

His bottom line is that there will be consequences. One can either address the mounting debt in a peaceful, orderly manner or, more likely, abruptly when the economic consequences hit home, as has been the case with Puerto Rico. For example, the many entitlement programs that lack sufficient reserves remind me of a quip from Tom Palmer: "What can't happen, won't happen." In other words, unsustainable programs simply won't be sustained.

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Fergus Hodgson

Fergus Hodgson joined AIER in 2017 as managing editor, after being a visiting scholar from 2009 to 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Boston University, a Graduate Diploma in Political Science from the University of Waikato, and a Certificate in Cuban Studies from the University of Miami. He is the executive editor of Antigua Report and a consultant to various publications, including Gold Newsletter, Impunity Observer, and Cedice Libertad (Venezuela). A New Zealand native, he has lived in eight countries and holds the Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE: B2). Follow @FergHodgson.