THE BLOG
04/26/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Myth of the Balanced Budget and Other Tales from the Vault of the Historically Ignored

Okay, let's begin at the beginning... history has ended. This is not the end of history as Fukuyama thought it to be. Obviously not since liberal democracy as the only form of government for all states is not on the Tea Party movement's agenda. And contrary to what Fukuyama thought of history as being viewed as an evolutionary process I think it better to view history as either being dead or in a state of devolution especially in regards to the debt crisis in America.

What makes this even more ironic is that Newt Gingrich, who taught history at the University of West Georgia (before he realized there was no money to be made in the academy) is considering creating another Contract With America: The Sequel that will stand for the creation of jobs, an energy policy and the proverbial charge towards the balancing the budget a kind of discourse that would even make Cervantes acknowledge genius.

What makes this sort of "manifesto" so specious is that no one really has a clue about how to solve the problem and why it's irrelevant to talk about it since there will never be a balanced budget unless, of course, the debt was discharged. You know, a major Chapter 11 which is analogous to Don Quixote's Chapter 11 dealing with What Befell Don Quixote with Certain Goatherds. But the notion of history qua history has no validity anymore since history is dead or, as I said, in devolution. Recent history is something that happened yesterday, ancient history is something that occurred last week. If you don't believe me, see where Haiti is today in the public conscious. But the debt has risen uncontrollably since the turn of the 20th century. I don't think it's necessary to return to those thrilling debt-filled days of a century ago, so let's just begin with 1940.

These are the players to whom we're Indebted from 1933 to the present:
FDRoosevelt 1933-45
Truman 45-53
Eisenhower 53-61
Kennedy 61-63
Johnson 63-69
Nixon 69-74
Ford 74-77
Carter 77-81
Reagan 81-89
GHWBush 89-93
Clinton 93-2001
GWBush 01-09
Obama 09-12

Between 1940-1950, the Roosevelt-Truman years, the US debt rose from $60 Billion to 257 Billion a jump of 23%. From 1950 to 1960 the Truman-Eisenhower years, it rose slightly to $290 Billion a modest gain of about 9%. From 1960-1970, the Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon years, it rose to $381 Billion an even more impressive increase of only about 8%, but by 1980, the Nixon-Ford-Carter years, it rose to $909 an astonishing gain of 42%.. During the Reagan-Bush years it jumped to $3,206, an increase of about 28% then leaped to $5,629 in the Bush-Clinton years a gain of about 57%. In the Bush II years it leaped again to $12,311 or 46%. The estimate for the Obama year of 2010 is about $14,456 or about 8.5 % with an estimated rise to about $16,565 by 2012 another 8.7% increase. So, what does all this actually mean? Well, even though Disraeli was absolutely correct about using statistics, between the time Nixon came into office and the time Bush II left office, the US debt had exploded over 32 times from about $381 Billion to $12,311 Billion.

Yes, you do the math and see if it's any different. Clearly, there's an enormous leap in the debt by 1980 and from that point on the debt has been out of control. Regardless of who one wants to blame for this staggering deficit, the US debt has continually gotten deeper and deeper in debt and will continue to do so regardless of who's in the White House.

The mantra that Democrats are the party of spending is specious since budget deficits pander to both sides of the aisle and the myth of a balanced budget is one of the most fictitious, if not mendacious, platforms imaginable. And yet it gains currency (no pun intended) especially from the right and far right as a reason to re-take control of big government (which, in theory, is something they don't want to do).

The simple fact is this: the United States is bankrupt and will never balance its budget. Never. Oh, perhaps, if we started a war with China that might boost the economy until the population was totally annihilated, but that's only a short term solution to the problem, isn't it? The point is no one in Congress and, apparently, few Nobel economists, have a clue as to how to deal with the problem of continuing deficits (least of which is the proto-historian Gingrich) except to blame the other party for the disgrace of decades of tragic financial mismanagement. And as each new election approaches, the mantras are revivified that one party or the other has gotten us into this mess and, for the welfare of our children and grandchildren (Baby Boomers being children of that same ancient political discourse), it must end and the only way it will end is if you vote for me. For me. Actually, there s only one way out of this debt crisis... invest in derivatives. And a good night to all.