For reasons that will be obvious to any reader who files tax returns
in the United States of America, here's a daylog that talks about money
and government's use of it.
Nobody jumps for joy on Tax Day. Some people think taxes are evil and
give themselves an ulcer; some consider it the "price we pay for
civilization", as said by
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and do their
duty. Most are just resigned to it. Many
choose instead to focus on the "silver lining" of a
refund check that
they look upon as though it were a Christmas present.
And each year around this time, we hear cries for "reform" (whatever that
means), because the government taxes us too much, or it is too wasteful,
or the Internal Revenue Code is just too complicated.
you're listening just right, you can also hear someone mention that the
taxes are not the sine qua non of out-of-control
government but rather it is the spending that is the problem. Which as
almost anyone can see, leads directly to, it is the borrowing that is
As editor of the monthly newsletter of the Santa Barbara County
Libertarian Party, when the debt ceiling was raised in November of
2004, I decided to start including the monthly change in federal
indebtedness (cash-accounting-wise) in each issue. Below I reproduce
my short commentaries on the subject, from that point up until February
of 2006, when it was increased again.
- January, 2005. Uncle Sam pulled out the (our) credit card a lot recently. Does he get frequent flyer miles with that?
Since the last newsletter (end of November, 2004), the United States national
debt has increased $97,672,053,677.84. That's NINETY SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS.
(Un)Fortunately, the bank increased Sam's credit limit by about eight hundred
billion dollars a while back. Maybe that'll get him through Christmas.
- February, 2005. Does the shortest month of the year curtail Uncle Sam's spending at all? Let's see.
Since the last newsletter (end of January, 2005), in fact only through the 24th
of this month, the United States national debt has increased
$89,267,211,731.67. That's EIGHTY NINE BILLION DOLLARS in just over three
weeks, and about one hundred ninety billion dollars since Congress raised the
debt limit in November. At that rate, the answer to the question raised in the
last newsletter about whether the current ceiling will last until Christmas is
a resounding Not Even Close.
- March, 2005. Remember "slowing the rate of growth"?
Our national government likes to say they're "cutting spending" when their
spending grows less than they said it would. Well, if they talked about the
national debt, they'd probably say we got rich last month! After all, the debt
in March only increased $63,801,374,005.43. That's nothing compared to the
eighty- to ninety-billion they've been doing in the months preceding.
- April, 2005. Mark your calendars!
Was that airborne bacon I spied cruising over the Capitol?
The national debt normally follows a predictable pattern each month: for the
first few business day of the month the debt decreases; one, five, ten billion
dollars. Then it quickly makes that back and spends the rest of the month going
up, for a net increase for the month of however many tens of billions of
April started out that way, also, but something amazing happened a week before
month's end: Uncle Sam apparently found some change under the cushions,
because they paid off a lot of debt and ended the month with a net DECREASE for
the month of $19,867,643,278.81
Raise your hand if you think that'll happen again in May. Your editor is not
holding his breath.
- May, 2005. Back to the norm
All of you who raised your hands last month, go to the back of the class.
The folks at the Bureau of the Public Debt were no doubt as surprised as
everybody else when the debt went down in April. But they shook it off and
business returned to normal, with an increase for May of $13,342,815,130.75
- June, 2005. A little short at the end of the month.
You know the old joke about the month lasting a little longer than the money?
Well, the US government almost squeaked through, bouncing around between +2 and
-2 billion dollars during the last week of the month. But June has thirty days,
and that last one got them. They ended up the month hitting up the bank for
$58,615,635,490.97. Hey, we've all been there, right?
- August, 2005. A billion here, a billion there
This month, Congress and the Prez almost got around to spending some real
money, with an outgo $39,315,793,349.23 larger than the income. With the
national debt now at $7,926,933,374,544.81, we'll hit the big 8 trillion dollar
mark in about two months. Less if something shiny catches their eyes. Remind
me, what was the debt ceiling that was agreed to less than one year ago?
- September, 2005. A billion here, a billion there
Wow, second time this year the debt's gone down in a month. Although the number
I report is only as of September 29, and sometimes that last day of the month
really gets you. But I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. This month's
change: a decrease of 12,921,071,168.21. At this rate, last year's debt limit
increase might just last a year! Not likely if the upcoming "compassion" for
the people of the New Orleans area kicks in, though.
- October, 2005. I'm speechless
Sure, it's just a psychological threshold, but sheesh. As of today, the most
recent figure I have for the debt increase in October (as of the 27th) is
$93,319,967,138.32. NINETY THREE BILLION DOLLARS. With one more business day to
go in the month, they just might push it over a hundred. And this in the same
month that the debt passed the eight trillion dollar mark, thanks to the
just-in-time raising of the statutory limit (last raised last November, I
believe). How many people on your block are aware of this? Or if they are, how
P.S. In case you were a bit proud of the government last month when you read
here that the debt had been paid down a bit in September -- that was also
written with another day to go. The final change for September was an increase
- November, 2005. I'll need a nap after that
I'm sure President Bush and all the other turkeys at the head of our national
government had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. But they sure must have had a
lot of fixin's to go with it, because in November they added another
$65,198,801,506.29 to the national debt. That would buy a lot of tryptophan.
- January, 2006. There Oughtta Be a Law!
I don't know what the national government's New Years resolution was. Your
typical Congresscritter might say it was "to spend less money", and point to HR
4241, the "Deficit Reduction (haha) Act", as evidence. But just as many
Americans reached for that first cookie of the year, the feds went another
$25,645,892,285.90 dollars in debt.
You may recall that in November 2004, the Congress increased the statutory debt
limit. "A stroke of the pen", in Paul Begala's words, and the government can
borrow another 800 billion dollars. At the time, I wondered if it would last
through Christmas of 2005. It did. But January's binge put the debt over the
limit; as of January 31, it was over by $12,070,437,599.52.
Did you see the story on the news about the Treasurer of the United States
being hauled off in handcuffs? Neither did I. As easy as increasing the limit
is (Congress needn't worry about the taxes and destruction of the value of the
dollar it will cause), you'd think they could at least do it! (Before or after
they vote on Bush's request for $120 billion more to make war?)
- February, 2006. (Expensive) Love is in the air
During the shortest month of the year, the national debt last month increased
Right in the middle of said shortest month is St. Valentine's day, which often
sees men lose their heads somewhat and spend a sum they later regret to ensure
their lady's love. Perhaps George really wanted to get Laura a diamond to show
that he's still thinking of her while he's bugging phones and ruining nations.
I just got a wholesale quote for a flawless, colorless, 1 carat-weight diamond:
$14,098. The President can probably get wholesale, but let's mark that up 100%,
and add another grand and change for a gold setting. That makes it thirty
thousand dollars. For the amount of extra debt amassed last month (NOT the
spending, just the spending in excess of revenues), he could have gotten
2,460,502 such gewgaws. Perhaps we all need to give Mr. Bush a finger so he can
have somewhere to put them.