Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Ethical Problems of Government Debt

During my public lecture, "Looming Debt Disaster" I gave for the Institute for Principle Studies, I briefly touched on some of the ethical problems of our government debt. My discussion was predicated on embracing the Christian ethic of private property of which I have written in the past. This is what I said:
Holding the policy of deficit spending up to the light of the Christian ethic of property reveals that such fiscal irresponsibility is not an ethical means for achieving our desired ends. There are two serious ethical problems with our outrageous government debt. The first is that government spending per se involves coercively distributing wealth from those who produce it and transferring it to someone else. If I do this privately to my neighbor it is rightly called theft. If we do in collectively by majority vote, on the other hand, it is called the democratic process. There is no principle, however, that says Thou Shalt Not Steal, except by majority vote.
Another ethical problem with our government debt is that we are essentially stealing from our children and grandchildren. By amassing our mountains of debt, we are at the same time placing our children and our children’s children under economic obligation without their consent. We are placing them under a large tax burden. We reap the benefit, they bear the cost. This is simply not right.

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