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Debt: Destroyer of Lives, Businesses, and Countries

Dear Reader,

“Raise your hand if you’re scared of flying.” The professor of my Intro to Psychology course made this request of the class on the very first day of college. Of the 30 or so students in the room, six raised their hands.

“OK, put them down. Now raise your hand if you’re scared of driving.”

Not a hand was raised.

“Statistically, you’re much more likely to die in a car than a plane.”

Thirty blank stares awaited an explanation.

“You see, we humans aren’t as rational as we like to think. Driving is more dangerous than flying, but almost everyone is more scared to fly. That’s why the study of psychology is important: so we can identify and modify irrational thoughts.”

Even as a dumb 18-year-old, I knew my professor’s example was bogus. The mathematical odds of death are just one of several valid reasons to fear something. Another is a lack of control: flying makes me nervous because I’m putting my life in the hands of a stranger. There’s nothing irrational about that.

Debt worries me much more than flying, but for the same reason: I have no control over it. Not personal debt, of course: I have 100% control over my credit card, auto, student loan, and mortgage debt. I’m talking about Uncle Sam’s big, fat federal debt, which today stands at over $17.5 trillion. As one of 115 million taxpayers, my own personal portion of that is $152,000. Add in my wife’s share, and we’re up to $304,000. Do we have to include that in our net-worth calculation when we apply for a mortgage?

Nothing is as destructive as a government drowning in debt. Though the time it takes to play out varies, the narrative is always the same:

  •     Government borrows too much
  •     Government prints money in a desperate attempt to service debt
  •     Government ultimately prints too much money, destroying its currency and the savings of all its citizens

Source Casey Research

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