Notes Book

Reparations for the Rich

I'm talking about the National Debt. If someone's ancestor bought a T-bill in 1792, and never sold it, but handed it down to their descendants, then all the rest of us are still paying interest. On the other hand, perhaps another person's ancestor was a slave in 1792, and actually earned the money used to buy the T-bill.

Suppose the slave's descendants ask the T-bill purchaser's descendants for reparations for slavery. They are likely to hear that was 200 years ago, and we should all forget about it. I doubt, though, that the T-bill owners are likely to be so willing to forgive their interest and principle. So all the suffering some people suffered during slavery and the Jim Crow era is to be written off, while the wealth that was extracted from their toil and mistreatment is to be preserved. The slave owner rips of the labor of the slave, puts it in the bank, and then the descendants of the slave must pay interest forever.

Now suppose you loan me $100, and I sign an IOU for $100. I don't pay you for 6 years. Finally you take me to court to collect the $100. The case will be thrown out because no contract between private citizens can last more than some small amount of years, possibly four. Long standing relationships become so complicated that there is no known form of analysis that can sort out real justice. But the government never forgets and never forgives. At least it never forgives the poor.

The term "National Debt" is very misleading. It's not that we all owe some mythical entity this vast amount of money. In reality, the "National Debt" is what the poor folks in America owe the rich folks. And I, for one, don't think the rich folks engineered this situation in totally legal and ethical ways.

That is why I think we ought to get rid of the national debt. There are two ways this could be done. Repayment, and repudiation. Repayment is unlikely. Repudiation is looming.

The poor are boxed in and dehumanized in our society. They live their lives behind counters, in cubicles, on assembly lines. They are harassed bye lawyers, cops, and bureaucrats. They spend most of their time doing what they have to do and very little doing what they want to do. The upper classes are busily creating a ticking bomb and winding it tighter and tighter. Every child of a poor family is born owing thousands of dollars to the children of the rich.

Notice that the debt started to really take off about 1940. That's about the time that Roosevelt confiscated all the gold, and took us off the gold and silver standard. I see this as the measure of the loss of integrity of our society. The curve is becoming more and more vertical. The rate of increase slacked off a very little in the last two years of the Clinton administration when we were "paying down the debt", but that is soon to end.

This curve could be dressed up to look better by showing the debt divided by the population, or the gross domestic product, but showing the debt in dollars also shows how much the value of the dollar has deteriorated since the currency was created.

Here is a graph showing the year to year change of the debt as a percentage of the debt in the previous year.

In about 1797 the debt rose more than 800%. I shudder to imagine the catastrophe if that happened today.
Perhaps we would have gotten to the point of actually paying some of the debt if the policies of the Clinton administration had been continued, perhaps not. Lately, the deficit goes up when the rich folks are in charge. They like the idea of collecting interest for the foreseeable future.

The national debt is a national disgrace. Someday the economic bankruptcy of the United States Government will come to match its moral bankruptcy. If the rich really don't believe in reparations, then maybe they should tear up some of those T-bills.