Is government debt a bad thing? Not necessarily. What is the optimum level of debt? Let's just say it's somewhere between, "are you kidding me? I have that in the cup holder of my car." and "are you kidding me? There's no way I can pay that back."
Debt is a good thing, because it increases the money supply. Credit is a good thing, because it works the same way. Both combine to increase the speed of cash flow in the economy, encouraging more transactions. More transactions means that the government can take a smaller bite out of each one, while still raising the same amount of revenue. Taxes are lower, investment is higher, and everyone wins.
Too much of either debt or credit, and we have a bubble. Bubbles are good because they grow the economy, at least temporarily. Bubbles are bad because they burst. When bubbles burst we end up with sticky stuff all over our faces.
When I say we, I don't mean politicians, I don't mean corporations or wealthy executives of those corporations. I mean regular folk.
Who was left holding the bag when real estate prices came back to reality? Homeowners. Suddenly they were put in a position where they owed a lot more for their homes than their homes were worth. That is not good debt.
Who lost out when the dot com bubble burst? Marc Cuban, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs? I don't think so. Regular investors, people like you and me, lost a ton of money while the people that blew up the bubble made even more.
There is no way for the government to pay back its current deficit without an endless stream of debt-ceiling increases and monetary flim flam. All these tricks manage to accomplish is kicking the can down the road to the next election cycle, and saddling the next several generations with the tab.
One thing about debt, it has to be paid back, one way or another. Who will be left to pay it back? At some point, the government printing presses will not be able to print enough money to keep the power on for the government printing presses to keep printing money. When that day comes, I guess we'll finally be forced to realize that, with apologies to Joe Biden, we cannot borrow our way out of debt.
Until that day, let's live it up. Let's keep raising the debt ceiling, buying off unions and corporations for votes, throwing good money after bad in the name of social justice and economic equality.
Let's have one last party on the tab of individual responsibility, because when the lights start flashing for last call, and the bartender comes over with the bill, the only response a drunken, stupefied, pathetic, former economic giant will be able to muster is, "are you kidding me?"