Steven Landsburg over at The Big Questions has an excellent post about the growing debt in the US. There are two pieces to what we leave for future generations, inheritance and debt. He identifies the problem as spending, but it is more than that; theoretically, when we spend, we should be gaining more in inheritance than we give up to debt. Those are the same accounting identities he mentions, and the basic principle of voluntary exchange. The real problem is that the government is spending money on things which do not enhance the inheritance we leave, such as the stimulus or health care through Medicare which can be better handled by leaving things to the market. When we say that the government is spending too much, this is what we really mean. If the government can generate benefits larger than the expense, I wouldn’t have a problem deficit spending until that advantage is exhausted.

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