In olden times, middle-class people had checking accounts; and they kept close track of their account balances. No one wanted to inadvertently write a "hot" check that would "bounce" back to them. Oh, the shame! The embarrassment!
Those days are gone. Today, many Americans don't pay much attention to their checking account balances. If they don't have money in their account to buy a suitcase of Miller Lite, they just put their purchase on a credit card.
That's basically what our government is doing. The national debt tripled between 2008 and 2019 and reached about $20 trillion when Trump came into office.
By the third year of Trump's term in office, the national debt had risen to $22 trillion. Last summer, Congress passed a two-year deficit budget at a time when America had a booming economy with historically low unemployment.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic, and our government whipped up more than $2 trillion to deal with that. State and local governments are running massive deficits because tax revenues are down, and the Democrats want to dole out another $1 trillion to send to the states.
So that brings the national debt to what--$24 trillion? Folks, we can never pay back this money, and no one believes we can.
If the federal government can't pay its debts—and it can't—it only has two choices: It can default on its obligations or inflate the money supply. It will choose inflation, and the consequences won't be pretty.
Inflation, the wise economists tell us, is a way for the rich to steal from the poor. When hyperinflation starts, the people who will be hurt are the elderly living on fixed incomes and young people whose wages won't be enough to pay for the inflated price of necessities like food and rent.
Germany suffered hyperinflation in the 1920s as it struggled to pay war reparations to the Allied powers after World War I. The German government responded to this onerous burden by printing more money. This triggered hyperinflation that soon drove the value of the German mark to virtually zero. The mark became worth so little that people had to carry baskets of paper currency to pay for their daily needs.
Historians tell us that this period of hyperinflation destroyed the German economy, causing massive hardship for the German people, whose lives devolved into a day-to-day struggle for food. The anger and bitterness that resulted laid the groundwork for Nazism.
Adam Ferguson wrote a book about Germany's inflationary period titled When Money Dies. Ferguson warns us about the existential danger of hyperinflation. "The question to be asked," Ferguson wrote, "is how inflation, however caused, affects a nation: its government, its people, its officials, and its society."
If the experience of Germany is anything to go by, Ferguson cautioned, "then the collapse of a national currency unleashes such greed, violence, unhappiness, and hatred, largely bred from fear, as no society can survive uncrippled and unchanged." In Germany, racial passions were unleashed, and nihilistic sexuality prevailed in 1920s Berlin.
Already, our national politicians make hysterical and groundless charges of racism against their political opponents. State and local governments refuse to abide by federal immigration law even as they demand more federal money to prop up their sagging budgets. Our elite intellectuals have cast off almost all sexual norms and obsess on transgender bathrooms.
Is contemporary America exactly like Germany in the 1920s? Of course not. But like 1920s Germany, our government is running up debt that it can't repay. Will this lead to a 21st century Hitler? Probably not, but our future is definitely going to be unpleasant.