The bill is coming due, and it will get paid one way or another.
Yesterday, a disreputable-though-slick grifter named Matt Gaetz upended the United States House of Representatives. Gaetz, the Republican analog to Hunter Biden, is under investigation of allegations including drug abuse, financial improprieties, and sex with an underage person. He wanted the speaker of the house, Kevin McCarthy, to get him off the hook. McCarthy refused.
So Gaetz, in a stunning act of hypocrisy, brought a motion to remove McCarthy. The charge against McCarthy? He worked with Democrats to push through a 45-day continuing resolution to keep the government open. How dare he work with Democrats?
The hypocrisy is that the beer hall putz’s Beer Hall Putsch would have failed but for it being joined by all of the chaos-loving Democrats in the House (and a handful of poor summer children in the Republican conference).
Within hours, very serious and very seriously misguided persons were proposing that the serial loser Donald Trump be elected speaker of the house. And the idea was taken seriously by Trump’s television network, Fox News Channel.
Fox News Channel is the home of the best news program on television, “Special Report,” at 6 p.m. Eastern time weeknights. It lasts an hour. The other 23 hours of the day are filled with infotainment dumbed down so as to appeal to the kind of people who are stupid enough to purchase bedding from Mike Lindell, or buy whatever preacher-turned-politician-turned-snakeoil-salesman Mike Huckabee is peddling today. Which is to say Trump voters.
The channel’s “prime time” schedule is the once-sane, now long-in-the-tooth newsblonde cheerleader-wannabe Laura Ingraham and her “I want to be Trump’s Monica” show. She is followed by snotty former production assistant Jesse Watters and “No, I want to be Trump’s Monica.” Then comes good-looking-but-dimwitted Sean Hannity with “I’ve been Trump’s Monica for years.” The evening is rounded out by Greg Gutfield and “Gilbert Gottfried is my god.” Kind of makes you wonder why “news” is in the channel’s name at all (though there is precedent: the “History” Channel, the “Learning” Channel, and “public” broadcasting).
Coverage, such as it is, comprises Trump, New York City, Trump, Washington D.C., Trump, whatever lurid crime has been committed that doesn’t involve Trump, Trump, and items of interest to obese elderly people who have a hard time sleeping.
And that is as close to a news channel as we have, with its one mostly serious hour each evening.
Which means that unless you are going out of your way to pay close attention to the world around you, you are in for surprises.
The first is good news. If you’re not in a city, the world is probably not crashing down around you. Our cities, or “everything important in the world” as FNC, CNN, etc., would style it, are disasters. This phenomenon is not limited to the United States. It is observable throughout the world. Cities everywhere are descending into oblivion while the rest of their countries are cooking along happily.
The cities in the U.S. were not in great shape but not in their current mess until the summer of 2020, when a drug abuser and passer of counterfeit money named George Floyd got strangled by a police officer in liberal Minneapolis. It was somehow decided that an appropriate response was to burn liberal cities to the ground. (This had the added benefit, apparently, of making participants immune to the SARS-CoV-2 virus; everyone else was required to stay home and wear a mask.)
Presidential candidate Joe “not-yet-Bugout” Biden said nothing worth remembering about it — hey, he doesn’t remember it — but the presidential candidate (now vice president) cackling Kamala Harris actually raised money to go bail for the few rioters and arsonists stupid enough to arrested, so they could riot and set fires some more. The actual president, House-speaker-aspirant Donald Trump, did nothing as he followed his lone guiding principle: What’s in it for me?
We needn’t rehearse what has followed, other than to say that Trump went on to make the current mess in the House possible by torpedoing previously bright Republican chances for gaining a substantial majority in the House and Senate in 2022, and that the lifelong mental midget Biden fell further into senility and was last seen wandering the halls of the White House looking for a pair of dry pants.
Those of us not in cities continued along, doing what we do, not having to fear our neighbors, perhaps saving a little money for our old age, seeing the kids and grandkids, growing vegetable gardens, our biggest complaint being that next year we’re afraid we really will have to re-roof the house.
But we can’t escape forever. The long tentacles of government, un-covered by the “news” media, are inching their way toward us.
Largely in order to mollify people in cities, the federal government has spent a lot of money. I don’t actually mean “a lot” of money; what I mean is “more money than you can imagine.” The U.S. national debt, as of this afternoon, was about $33.5 trillion. That works out to about $100,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country. If you are a taxpayer, which is to say if you have a job, you owe almost $260,000 in IOUs to which the federal government has signed your name. That is more than double the debt of a decade ago, when it was $16.4 trillion. Ten years earlier, it was under $7 trillion. I’m not an economist, but I think I detect a trend.
This is not good, but for a time it was manageable. For much of the last decade interest rates were very low, in some cases almost zero. Interest rates are no longer near zero.
Due to ridiculous spending by Trump and Biden — though we can’t disregard Barack “I ate a dog” Obama — we have undergone a period of price inflation, which is best thought of as a reduction in the value of the dollar. If inflation is 5 percent and you loan money at a 4 percent interest rate, you effectively lose money. People smart enough to have money to lend are also smart enough to not fall for that. In 2022 alone, inflation was 6.5 percent. That means if you had $10.65 in December 2021 it was worth only $10 in December 2022. You might be willing to swallow that. But what if you had $106,500 in your retirement account and saw it drop to $100,000. Now imagine you are a small investment bank, with $1,065,000,000. Inflation alone consumed $65 million of your investors’ combined billion dollars. You got nothing for it. It is a loss due to government mismanagement. It means that you have to make investments that returned 6.5 percent just to stay where you were at the beginning of the year. Interest rates go up.
The interest on federal debt is growing, too. At the moment it is 4.6 percent — still a loss compared to inflation. Even at that rate, interest on $33.5 trillion is a little (well, $41 billion) over $1.5 trillion. That works out to about $4600 for every man, woman, child and infant in the country. Interest alone. That is what you would have to pay if the federal government did absolutely nothing except pay interest on the money it has already borrowed. And that is the interest for this year alone. Next year we have to do it all over again, based on whatever the interest rate is then. Again, this is just the interest. It pays down not a penny of the amount owed.
In that children, infants, and many others do not pay taxes, the debt service comes to about $11,500 for every person who does pay taxes. In interest alone. Every year. Interest on money the federal government has already spent. All that money squandered buying political clout for liberal politicians in big cities? It’s on your tab, even if you’ve lived a responsible life in a responsibly governed community.
It is not sustainable. Politicians know it is not sustainable. They see their job not as bringing it under control but as making sure someone else gets blamed for it.
That’s a pretty big story, don’t you think? Why don’t you know about it?
Because the “news” media at their most basic level think that all you want to know is who Taylor Swift is sleeping with this week. Or perhaps the current speculation as to the state of the marriage of a troubled member of the British royal family and the opportunistic starlet he married. Perhaps they are right.
If you dig deeper you might watch Fox News Channel and arrive at the conclusion that all those blonde jokes weren’t jokes after all but factual anecdotes about how blondes really, really like Donald Trump. Dig still deeper and you will find out who seems to be winning in the day’s minor political skirmish. Or you could watch CNN and learn that white men should pay for it all, to the extent that they mention the debt at all.
There is no serious, honest, news coverage anywhere.
Which is why almost everyone will be surprised when the bill comes due, as it certainly will.
What happens then could well make the George Floyd riots look like a summer festival.