The U.S. government shutdown ended last night with a budget agreement that raises the debt limit, funding the government until February. Acton director of research, Samuel Gregg, addressed this in a new post at Aleteia. He says:
Once again, I’m afraid, the United States Congress and the Administration has opted to live in un-truth by denying the dire fiscal realities facing America. Since August 2012, the total public debt of the United States has increased from $16,015 trillion to $16,747 trillion. And in the meantime, the size of the federal government also continues to grow. How much more debt do our political masters think Americans want? How much bigger do some of them think the federal government should be? Is there any upper limit in their mind?
But it isn’t just a question of the failure of legislators and government officials. There are, it seems, a good number of American citizens who simply don’t care about fiscal responsibility, not to mention plenty of businesses that prefer corporate welfare rather than actually competing in the marketplace.
In Gregg’s newest book, Tea Party Catholic, he says that governments and individuals running up high levels of debt may be dealing with a “deeper moral disorder.” He quotes Benedict XVI who said that living off of debt is “living in untruth.”
The economist John Maynard Keynes once famously wrote, “In the long run, we are all dead.” To be fair to Keynes, he was making a specific point about monetary theory. Yet his words are evocative of an outlook that should trouble Catholics. For if we choose to allow our governments’ fiscal policies to be dominated by short-term perspectives, we should not be surprised to see governments taking on ever-escalating levels of public debt and running year after year of trillion-dollar deficits. Likewise, if individuals and families want to engage in levels of consumption that are beyond their means, then recourse to loans for consumption is one way to realize that goal. But what do such choices say about a society’s priorities and conception of human flourishing?
Unfortunately, I’d suggest, the answer is self-evident.
Read the full post here.