05/17/2004: "War and Debt"
Letís close out the latest series on the immorality of deficits and debt by considering when they might indeed be moral. The moral way to implement deficit spending is to employ them only when it can be plausibly argued that the future generations saddled with the debt will applaud the spending that led to the deficit. For example, nobody born in the generations following either of the World Wars would argue that the war bonds sold then represented an immoral wealth transfer from future generations. Of course, Congress stopped selling war bonds after the war was over, so the debt was repaid in the relatively short period before bond maturity. P-u-l-l-e-a-s-e letís not get into ďbut it is wartime, the war on terrorism!Ē Government expenditures related to terrorism are a small fraction of total government spending, and could easily be borne without massive borrowing. The proof is that thereís apparently enough room in the budget for both the war on terrorism and huge tax cuts. Letís not forget that our forefathers raised taxes to pay for wars. While former Congressman (and football star) Jack Kemp has argued that future generations owe us a debt of gratitude for the debt weíre running up, Iím thinking that only someone who took too many shots to the head over his lifetime could seriously believe this.