The Debt Justifiers: purveyors of weakness
We have a veritable industry these days on the center-left seeking to convince us that debt, while bad, isn’t quite as horrible as we might think. These Debt Justifiers, mostly self proclaimed Keynesians, remind me of purveyors of junk food in that they offer us nothing but a diet guaranteeing collective weakness.
We see it well illustrated today in a post by Dylan Matthews appropriately entitled “Why do people hate deficits?”. Unsurprisingly, it’s strongly recommended by that prime junk food purveyor of all, Paul Krugman.
The essential truth so very well hidden by these Debt Justifiers, however, is that we as a people are in a horribly demeaned position. As individuals, we are little more than commodities desperate to sell ourselves in a globalized “labor market” dominated by incredibly powerful oligopolistic “bosses”. We are mere “employees” and, as such, lack just about all agency.
We are as a society like we are as individuals, existing in a state of extreme weakness under the thumb of our collective boss, the financial markets. The prime question we’re prompted to ask by the Debt Justifiers is whether or not we can possibly afford to borrow ever more from this collective boss. Can we, as a society of mere employees, afford to keep borrowing in order to maintain a quasi-civilized way of life? The Debt Justifier, like a mortgage hustler, says don’t worry – yes we can. But the very question itself is completely sterile and does nothing but expose our collective dependence.
There is only one healthy way to act as a society, and that’s to firmly assert collective agency and stand up, against the power of the boss, and begin producing in a manner and level that brings about widespread prosperity. We demonstrate health when we speak of collective real productivity and technological capacity and quality of life and monetary sovereignty; we remain bedridden in sickness when we stay mired with the Debt Justifiers.