Downgrading the West

In my column for The Washington Examiner today, I discuss the origins and consequences of our horrific, $15+ trillion debt:

For decades, the government has been spending our wealth — first everything we made, then everything we are ever going to make, and now everything our children and their children will ever make. How future generations will judge us for the theft of their prosperity is not hard to guess.

America is not alone in this fiscally debased condition, of course. The rot is deep and widespread; it is civilizational. The entitlement promises made by national and local governments of the West are so vast that they can never be kept.

Some readers have scoffed at my characterization of debt as a fatal, civilizational sickness, rather than a manageable nation-centric problem.

Yet today, as if on cue to compliment my Examiner article, I woke to find highlighted on the Drudge Report a Business Insider piece titled “Fitch Downgrades Greece To ‘Restricted Default‘” (“Restricted Default” is basically a legal fantasy whereby creditors agree to pretend that the debtor is not as broke as it really is, because the reality is just too unpleasant to face).

Another March 9 headline, this one from Financial Times, rings “Alarm Sounds Over Spain’s Rising Public Debt.” Still another Drudge-featured article today (this from The UK’s Telegraph) has a lengthy, biting sub-head which encapsuates perfectly the collective delusion that has taken hold of Western policy makers:

Europe has ring-fenced Greece’s debt crisis for now but its escalating recourse to legal legerdemain has shattered the trust of global bond markets and may ultimately expose Portugal, Spain, and Italy to greater danger.

This must have been what it was like to live in the 1930s, as the clouds of war gathered over the horizons of the West. Then, as now, leaders of men were bound by bad decisions made decades earlier, yet possessed neither the competence nor the courage to take the actions necessary to forestall disaster.

Then, as now, policy makers shuddered to make the painful decisions that the times required, thus only hastening the coming catastrophe.