Wednesday, June 10, 2009
BORROWING - June 11, 2009
The habit of borrowing to buy things we want has dug so deep into the US Way that we no longer even think that we are doing it. Even for such a minor purchase as gasoline, we pay with a credit card without even thinking of debt. If we charged it, we paid it. And for some the bill comes as an unwelcome intrusion, as though someone were picking our pockets. Of course many can pay these charges as soon as the tab arrives, but some are genuinely taken aback at the demand for payment. The bankers are there every year to induct our freshmen into this mode of apparently free buying. But some are more serious borrowers, and this goes all the way up the ladder to our governments. TT introduced the practice of pushing things into the next biennium as a way of borrowing without violating the constitution’s injunction against debt. So when Gov. Doyle entered office he faced the reality of a heavy debt left by the Thompson administration. And he has had the task of paying that debt while facing rising prices and an unwillingness of the People to pay for the money TT borrowed in violation of the law. And now we must genuinely pay, and the People have gotten used to the easy indebtedness that seduces us all. So often we genuinely can’t pay, because the debt is really so large and the economy so frail. So the only option is to put it on the cuff and actually pay it off. At least we could arrange that those who have the means would pay. But we suddenly hear from the rich a sermon about the sinfulness of debt. We are all used to the illusion that we never have to pay it off, both the gas bill and the schools tax, including what we borrowed over the last few decades. And the only alternative is not to pay it, and take the money from denying services to those who must have it, meaning the poor and the weak. But no one ever says that. They say they are against the corruption of debt, and against taxes. But that is what it comes to.