At 241 years, the United States claims to have the oldest continuously operating national government in the world. Some worry that it’s time will soon run out, probably due to some form of self-destruction.
About 25 years ago, the Antiplanner had an epiphany. In the previous two decades working for environmental groups, I had learned that government was not always the best way to protect the environment. What I realized in 1992 was that two of the biggest, if not the biggest, threats to the environmental resources I cared about were the national debt and deficit spending. Deficit spending allowed people to do harmful things to the environment that they could not afford to do without subsidies. The growth of the national debt appeared to be leading toward a crisis that was likely to put any environmental concerns on the back burner.
Since then, the national debt has quintupled (tripled after adjusting for inflation), growing from 66 percent to 106 percent of GDP. Deficits have grown from $340 billion in 1992 to well over a trillion dollars in the first four years of the Obama administration, falling to about $644 billion this year. Continue reading