The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. They, who do not understand monetary sovereignty, do not understand economics.
In my never-ending effort to explain more clearly why federal spending costs taxpayers nothing, here is a new thought that perhaps will make the concept more intuitive. It was precipitated by a question from Mr. Tyler Fairleigh, which is published in the comment section at Monetary Sovereignty.
Imagine John Jones sells something to the federal government for $100. John sends the government a “bill.” A bill is nothing more than a little note containing this instruction: “Please credit John Jones $100.” It costs John nothing to send that note. In fact, John could send such a note (bill) to the government every day for the next ten years, and still it would cost John nothing.
Of course, the government is under no obligation to do as John requests, but the point is, that little note costs John nothing. He need have no money in the bank to send it.
Assume, the government checks its records and finds that indeed it owes John $100, so it sends him a check for $100, which he deposits in his bank. The government’s check is not money; it is an instruction. The check is a little note containing this instruction: “John’s bank. Please mark up the number in John’s account by $100.”
The government has the power to send an unlimited number of instructions (aka “checks”) at any time. These instructions do not require the government to “have” any money. They merely are instructions made by a monetarily sovereign government.
So John’s bank obediently raises the number in his account by $100, then informs the Federal Reserve Bank of what it has done. For accounting reasons, all sorts of accounts are credited and debited, some of which may or may not be related to taxes. But in reality, all that has happened was, John’s bank received an instruction from the federal government and did as it was told.
These instructions also cost taxpayers nothing. Taxpayers are not even involved. Even if no one was paying taxes, our monetarily sovereign government still could send an unlimited number of instructions to banks all over the world, and they all would obey. Why? Because they know the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States will mark up their accounts by the exact amount of the check. Why? Because the U.S. government is monetarily sovereign, meaning it has the unlimited power to mark up accounts.
Compare this with Greece, Spain, Illinois, California, General Motors, Chicago, you and me. None of us in monetarily sovereign, so none of us has the unlimited power to mark up bank accounts. Our power is limited by the number in our own bank account or by what we can borrow.
Yes, you too could send an unlimited number of such instructions, but unless your bank account had a high enough number, your bank would not obey these instructions (aka bounce your check). But no bank bounces the federal government’s instructions. Never has; never will. A monetarily sovereign nation cannot be forced into bankruptcy.
And what about that worrisome federal debt? It is the total of the T-securities (aka IOUs) the government creates from thin air. It can do this forever.
To pay the debt, the federal government merely sends notes to the various T-security holders’ banks, instructing them to mark up accounts. Taxpayers don’t owe the government’s debt, nor do your children nor grandchildren. You aren’t even involved.
And as for the federal deficit, it is just a balance sheet entry, showing the difference between taxes collected and money spent, or more accurately, the difference between the number subtracted from taxpayers’ bank accounts and the numbers added to vendors’ bank accounts. Of course, taxes do not pay for spending. The government could add numbers to vendor’s bank accounts without subtracting from taxpayers’ accounts.
So that’s it. Government spending is just instructions to banks. The debt is just IOUs created from thin air. Paying the debt is just instructions to banks to raise numbers in accounts. The deficit merely is an arithmetic difference. And taxpayers neither pay for, no owe, any of this.
Does that make things clearer?
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
No nation can tax itself into prosperity. Those who say the stimulus “didn’t work” remind me of the guy whose house is on fire. A neighbor runs with a garden hose and starts spraying, but the fire continues. The neighbor wants to call the fire department, which would bring the big hoses, but the guy says, “Don’t call. As you can see, water doesn’t put out fires.”