And as the vicissitudes of Nations beget a perpetual tendency to the accumulation of debt, there ought to be in every government a perpetual, anxious, and unceasing effort to reduce that, which at any times exists, as fast as shall be practicable consistently with integrity and good faith. – Alexander Hamilton
If there is anything our government should be discussing at the moment it is the reduction of our national debt. To my mind there is no matter more pressing nor more likely to impinge upon the preservation of liberty than this.
Let me be clear that I am not against debt in principle. Debt whether privately or publicly incurred can be useful if it is not excessive. Anyone who has personally ended up deeply in the red can tell you that excessive debt is burdensome. Borrowing excessively can eventually paint you into a corner, if you are not careful, especially if you are ever late on your payments or default altogether.
When your creditworthiness is compromised the rate at which others are willing to loan you money increases and the higher interest rates eventually result in interest payments that you can no longer support within your existing budget. Once you’ve cut all the discretionary expenses you have in order to make interest payments (as you probably stopped paying down principle long ago), you are faced with the panic-inducing realization that you have to cut back on basic living expenses, find some way to borrow more, to push back the debt you owe or default. The farther you slide the uglier it gets.
My observation of the comic if not tragic governmental debate about raising the debt ceiling is that we’re at the point collectively where the panic tends to set were this discussion taking place at the individual level. If the only answer is to raise the debt ceiling I think it is safe to say that we’re about to roll the last stripe of paint around the feet of our nation.
No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable. – George Washington