Monday, November 11, 2013

The Big Lie: Lunch (and Debt) Are Free

Actions create consequences, and not necessarily the consequences that were planned or expected.

A central tenet of propaganda is that the Big Lie repeated often enough is accepted with greater ease than small lies. Thus it is no surprise that the leadership and propaganda organs of the Fed, Federal government and the Keynesian cargo Cult of fellow travelers all repeat our era's Big Lie: There is a free lunch after all.

The common-sense saying that "there's no free lunch" has been refuted, according to the Fed and our political "leadership" (if you call bought-and-paid-for toadies, lackeys and apparatchiks for the monied classes "leaders").

There are two free lunches, according to our financial and political leaders: free money, in the form of money created out of thin air by the Fed, and almost-free money borrowed into existence by the Federal government.
With the Fed's free lunch, trillions of dollars are created and distributed to banks and those who can borrow this free money for next to nothing.

In the Federal government's almost free lunch (it is almost free as a result of the Fed's financial repression of interest rates to zero, the infamous ZIRP - zero interest rate policy), the central state borrows and blows essentially limitless sums on favored cartels and constituencies: sickcare, global empire, bridges to nowhere, etc.

We are constantly reassured that the Fed can print (and distribute to its banker buddies) $1 trillion a year with nothing but positive consequences for the bottom 99.9%. On the fiscal side, the Federal government borrowing and squandering $1+ trillion a year is heralded as equally positive for everyone--especially the 49% of the populace drawing a direct cash benefit from the Federal government: Census: 49% of Americans Get Gov’t Benefits; 82M in Households on Medicaid.

Possible blowback? None, or so we're told. If anything, the Keynesian parrots squawk, we need to borrow and blow $2 trillion a year rather than a paltry $1+ trillion. (We're running out of cartels, quasi-monopolies, foreign wars, spy agencies and other ratholes to pour trillions down; yikes, what a problem for Krugman et al. Maybe the Martians can supply us with some more rapacious cartels or a planetary war.)

These two charts raise doubts about the sustainability of the Fed and government's free lunch. The first is the monetary base, which just hit $3.5 trillion.

The second one is Federal external debt, i.e. the Federal debt not including "intergovernmental holdings," what is "owed" to the fictitious Social Security Trust Funds. Total national debt is $17 trillion, debt we actually have to roll over is $12 trillion and rising by $1 trillion a year. Debt to the Penny (U.S. Treasury site).

At the start of 2008, before the global financial meltdown gathered momentum, debt owed to the public was $5.1 trillion. Now it is $12.2 trillion, an increase of $7 trillion in less than six years. According to the Big Lie, this is no problem, and entirely sustainable: here's your Free Lunch, America, enjoy!

Big Lie, meet unintended consequences. The problem with Big Lies is reality has not been disappeared; it still exists. Actions create consequences, and not necessarily the consequences that were planned or expected. 

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