“ But the figure for future generations is negative (benefits received will be less than taxes paid), meaning they’ll have to meet the obligations of their elders.”
This is nonsense. Not only that, it perpetuates the greatest con on society in history that positions the creation of currency necessary to operate a modern economy as “debt”. Who, exactly, owes this debt and who do they owe it to? Anytime Americans even hint at possibly wanting some benefit for their support of government they are beat about the head and shoulders with the debt club by criminally corrupt, or ignorant, politicians of both parties.
Republicans and Democrats only differ in their corruption by the degree of suffering they are willing to inflict on Americans in this con, and the margin is extremely small between them. Republicans say we should balance the “budget” at any cost as Friedman advocated and Democrats say we should balance the budget “someday”, but mitigate the pain to the little people in economic downturns as Keynes suggested. Either way, they are selling a lie and causing misery and death needlessly. Sadly, this is an easy sell because their claims of the importance of financial stewardship are true, for everyone except the federal government.
Congress is the monopoly issuer of the currency of the United States. Because the currency is sovereign (not pinned to a commodity or exchange rate) the government can never run out of it or fail to pay any obligation denominated in the same currency. This is why the claim that we must “pay for” benefits with taxation is completely false. In fact, there is no way for Americans to pay for the spending of the federal government with their taxes because the spending has to precede taxation or there is no currency in circulation to pay taxes with. The budget category mislabeled as debt is actually only an accounting, to the penny, of currency spent into the economy that hasn’t been “canceled” by taxation. Americans don’t “owe” $19 Trillion. They “OWN” $19 Trillion, albeit horribly distributed.
Our children will not have to pay this number, as it is only an accounting function of the Treasury and Congressional appropriation that happens every day in the normal course of business. The monopoly issuer of the currency doesn’t need our currency to spend currency, and taxes are how it “cancels” currency, not a revenue source for spending. Actually “paying” the debt would involve removing all currency from the economy and failing to pay Treasury obligations to our trading partners and other investors. The scary part of this is that there is likely only a handful of politicians that understand the monetary system, and that handful is more concerned with keeping their jobs than with managing the economy, not the budget, to the benefit of their constituents.
Please, before perpetuating this lie further, watch this video when you have an hour that you can devote and clear your mind of preconceptions based on your personal budget and obligations. Dr. Kelton is a well-credentialed macroeconomist (Chair of Economics at the University of Missouri in Kansas City) and she does a pretty good job of taking the yawn factor that usually accompanies economics out of her presentation.