Government borrowing: A new word for FRAUD?

Sometimes, there are no words to describe a horrible crime. What word describes what our government insists on calling, Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2013 ― “Fraud.” “Borrowing.” Words have meanings. Different kinds of people, though, use them differently. At their worst, people use words that describe something entirely different from what they’re saying.

“Reform” usually means, “to change for the better.” Dishonest people use “reform” to mean “change to the way I like it.” Think about what government means whenever the word “reform” is used in a bill. “Tax reform” means “higher taxes.” “Immigration reform” means “ignoring criminals.” And “fiscal reform” – you gotta love that one!

Let’s give up on “reform,” though. It’s too easy a target, and honest people usually know that it means something completely different when they say it than when anybody in government says it. Let’s pick a word that’s still under the radar.

“Borrowing.” Honest people know that “to borrow” means (thank you, Oxford Dictionary) to “take and use (something that belongs to someone else) with the intention of returning it.”

Our government, after spending an unfathomable amount of money (and promising multiples more that it keeps off the balance sheet) again has come to the point where it needs to “borrow” more money. Not the ten bucks your nephew needs for his share of the pizza; we’re talking trillions of dollars. Since George Bush’s team of Wall street cronies decided to bail out Bear Stearns to the unheard-of tlune of $30 billion in 2008, our government has borrowed roughly $6 trillion (200 times the amount of the “one-time” Bear Stearns fiasco) more than it has been able to take from its people. The deficits have added $6 trillion to the national debt, which now stands at about $16.6 trillion.

That’s all money we’ve borrowed. Government economists, Keynesians, media talking heads and other hacks say it doesn’t matter, because “we borrow it from ourselves” through the Treasury and Federal Reserve’s playing footsie. That isn’t true, of course: The government borrows for themselves and their support groups ‒ and then the productive people have to pay it back.

But that’s still too easy. “To borrow” always includes the intention to repay. The intention to repay implies some plan to repay. Our government has no intention to ever repay the national debt; and it clearly has no plan to do so, either.

That’s not borrowing. That’s lying. Making the promise to repay isn’t just misguided. It’s deliberate. “To deceive” is to “cause (someone) to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage.” That’s certainly the motive. What’s the act? Well, “to defraud” is to “illegally obtain money from (someone) by deception.” Government does it legally, so it’s not fraud, but it is deception. “To steal” is to “take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it.” Here, again, if lawmakers declare it legal, it’s not technically stealing, though the rest of the definition clearly fits.

So, what do we call a government that (legally) takes, through fraud, trillions of dollars that it has no intention to repay, by making deceitful use of financial and linguistic tricks? Words can’t describe what our government is doing. We know it’s not “reform,” and we know it’s not “borrowing.” We know it includes in its major components, elements of theft and fraud and deceit.

We need a new word for these people. “Fraudceitful?” “Perfraudulent?” “Crooked?” What’s your entry?

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Tim Kern

Tim Kern taught economics for fifteen years, and discovered that understanding life is easy; it’s recognizing reality that takes practice. He holds a music degree, and later earned an MBA in finance from Northwestern University. He has lived across the US, and now makes his home in Anderson, Indiana.

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