Thursday, February 12, 2009

Partial Reneg of the National Debt

Although debt repudiation is slowly becoming a topic outside of libertarian circles, one could make the counter-argument that people are responsible for the debt because the government that accrued it is the government elected by the people.

One could counter argue that the politicians in power weren't the one supported, and therefore the person who voted against the politician in power isn't liable. There are two different, and contradictory, counterarguments used against that. First, by voting at all, the person agrees to the outcome. Second, by not voting, the person agrees to the outcome. It is the deadly double-bind of democratic statism used to ensnare all who dare dissent by showing that they agree.

In truth the debt is owed by the politicians, past and present, who voted for it. But as they not only will never be held accountable, and they cannot afford it, they also insist the rest of us owe the debt, let us examine taking them at their word.

For some of the following calculations, both of those are going to be assumed to be true, in spite of the fact that they contradict each other. It is a common practice to say that the debt, divided by the population, gives us the share of debt owed by each person in this country. Given that debt, the following figures are the result.

President Debt Population Share
Kennedy / Johnson 311,712,899,257.30 180,671,158 1,725.31
Johnson 347,578,406,425.88 191,888,791 1,811.35
Nixon 427,260,460,940.50 200,706,052 2,128.79
Nixon / Ford 620,433,000,000.00 209,896,021 2,955.91
Carter 907,701,000,000.00 218,035,164 4,163.09
Reagan Term 1 1,572,266,000,000.00 227,224,681 6,919.43
Reagan Term 2 2,602,377,701,041.16 235,824,902 11,035.21
Bush Sr 4,064,620,655,521.66 244,498,982 6,624.28
Clinton Term 1 5,224,810,939,135.73 254,994,517 20,489.90
Clinton Term 2 5,674,178,209,886.86 265,189,794 21,396.67
Bush Jr Term 1 7,379,052,696,330.32 281,421,906 26,220.61
Bush Jr Term 2 9,007,653,372,262.48 293,655,404 30,674.23

Those figures are crooked. They hold people liable for debt accrued before people could vote, or before people were even born. Whether by voting or by not voting a person gives consent, it is impossible to give or withhold consent when a person is not able to vote, whether by virtue of age or not yet existing.

A more honest figure would include the debt accrued only during that term, and dividing it up among the population in various ways. Using term debt (debt accumulated during the term of the president) instead of national debt (debt accumulated by all previous presidents) and dividing it up among the population in various ways different results emerge.

Using the assumption that both the contradictory arguments are true, that all eligible voters are responsible, then dividing up the debt of each term by the eligible voters of each term yeilds the following results.

President Term Debt Share by Voting Age
Kennedy / Johnson 25,382,138,408.93 232.52
Johnson 35,865,507,168.58 314.36
Nixon 79,682,054,514.62 662.21
Nixon / Ford 193,172,539,059.50 1,372.20
Carter 287,268,000,000.00 1,886.08
Reagan Term 1 664,565,000,000.00 4,037.53
Reagan Term 2 1,030,111,701,041.16 5,904.37
Bush Sr 1,462,242,954,480.50 8,000.10
Clinton Term 1 1,160,190,283,614.07 6,121.44
Clinton Term 2 449,367,270,751.13 2,286.73
Bush Jr Term 1 1,704,874,486,443.46 8,283.53
Bush Jr Term 2 1,628,600,675,932.16 7,360.68

Thus someone who only able to vote in the 2004 election is only to be held liable for the $7,360.68 of debt accumulated during that term, while someone who was able to vote for the first time in 1992 is to be held liable for $24,052.37 of the debt. Those who are not able to vote are not liable for any of it, which should come as a relief to anyone under the age of eighteen.

If that is too broad, and only those who actually registered to vote are counted a different outcome is the result.

President Term Debt By Registered
Kennedy / Johnson 25,382,138,408.93 391.50
Johnson 35,865,507,168.58 486.54
Nixon 79,682,054,514.62 975.80
Nixon / Ford 193,172,539,059.50 1,984.75
Carter 287,268,000,000.00 2,734.90
Reagan Term 1 664,565,000,000.00 5,878.83
Reagan Term 2 1,030,111,701,041.16 8,297.27
Bush Sr 1,462,242,954,480.50 11,570.24
Clinton Term 1 1,160,190,283,614.07 8,669.71
Clinton Term 2 449,367,270,751.13 3,073.40
Bush Jr Term 1 1,704,874,486,443.46 10,899.25
Bush Jr Term 2 1,628,600,675,932.16 9,316.94

Thus someone who was only registered to vote in the 2004 election is only to be held liable for the $9,316.94 of debt accumulated during that term, while someone who was registered to vote since 1992 is to be held liable for $31,959.29 of the debt.

Finally if you only count those who voted, there is yet another outcome.

President Term Debt By Voted
Kennedy / Johnson 25,382,138,408.93 368.72
Johnson 35,865,507,168.58 507.69
Nixon 79,682,054,514.62 1,088.38
Nixon / Ford 193,172,539,059.50 2,485.54
Carter 287,268,000,000.00 3,522.35
Reagan Term 1 664,565,000,000.00 7,681.48
Reagan Term 2 1,030,111,701,041.16 11,117.99
Bush Sr 1,462,242,954,480.50 15,964.28
Clinton Term 1 1,160,190,283,614.07 11,112.39
Clinton Term 2 449,367,270,751.13 4,658.76
Bush Jr Term 1 1,704,874,486,443.46 16,146.74
Bush Jr Term 2 1,628,600,675,932.16 13,316.99

Thus someone who first voted in the 2004 election is only to be held liable for the $13,316.99 of debt accumulated during that term, while someone who was registered to vote since 1992 is to be held liable for $45234.88 of the debt.

These all operate on the principle that there can be no taxation without representation.

While the these calculations do increase the debt per person on older voters all fo them hold younger voters to be not responsible for taxes levied without their representation. Assuming an average age of 40, enabling a person to cast their first vote in the race between Dukakis and Bush, that gives an of age debt of $32,052.48, a registered debt of $43,529.53, and a voted debt of $61,199.16.

But they also leave one third of the debt unaccountable. One third of the debt is owed by absolutely nobody.

Even further and more advanced calculation would also reveal that a good share of the older debts are not owed by anybody, because some who voted for older presidents have died and therefore so has their share. So the 232.52, 368.72, or 368.72 owed by each person who could be held accountable in the election of Kennedy isn't shifted from those who have died to those who haven't, but is instead to be written off as the debtor is deceased.

This does make an excellent argument for not voting and not registering to vote when the system itself is corrupt. It is also very sad that two thirds of the national debt occured within most peoples lifetimes, and that is true in both regular and constant dollars.

Of course the best argument is that the debt actually belongs to those who accrued it, the Senators and Representatives who voted for it and the Presidents who signed for it. Let the debt be divided up amongst the gang of 540.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would argue that not registering and not voting does not release anyone of obligation. In America we are perfectly free to move to another country and give up our citizenship. (assuming another country is willing to take us)

I do agree that I should not be held responsible for Johnson's, Nixon's, and Carter's debt. I would also put forth that senators who have served long terms, especially the ones that chair the 'important' committees owe much more than any citizen or even president.

Also - Canada owes me three dollars in quarters!

Thanks for crunching the ugly numbers.