The Earth Belongs to the Living, Not to the Dead

government debt wake upWhat if your grandfather had gone on a wild spending binge, long before you were born, and put himself millions of dollars in debt to people who knew he could never pay? Would it be your obligation to work double-shifts all your life to pay that debt back? And if you died before paying it off, would it become your baby’s obligation?

I think most of us would answer those questions with a resounding “No way!” As well we should. We are not and should not be slaves to the past – slaves to actions we never took and for which we had no possible means of consent.

On September 6th, 1789, in the very first year of the US Constitution, Thomas Jefferson endorsed precisely this conclusion in a letter he wrote to James Madison:

I say, the earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and encumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on.

For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation.

He wrote the same thing to John Wayles Eppes twenty-four years later, in June of 1813:

The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.

To lay debt upon the unborn is thoroughly immoral. To try to enforce such a debt is thoroughly criminal.

Your Child or Grandchild

This conversation is critically important, because each child born in the US is born massively indebted. Using $200 trillion to represent the promises already made to people now living (some estimates are higher) and assuming a population of 310 million, that comes to $645,161 of debt, by the time your child reaches his cradle. If you expect your child to become a productive person, his or her share will be roughly twice that amount, or approximately $1.3 million.

(The US government is not unique in this regard, by the way. I use the US example, because it’s easier and because most of my readers seem to be Americans.)

Would you sign papers loading your baby with such a debt?

I am stating these facts in personal terms to cut through the usual BS that passes for public discourse. I am also using the voices of “founding fathers,” partly because it undercuts the fraudulent government story that “we’re following the wisdom of the founders.” Beside, we’re talking about real persons here. Making it personal is not manipulative, but accurate. To make it amorphous would be manipulative.

And while I’m on the subject of founding fathers, here’s something George Washington wrote in a letter to James Madison, also in 1789:

No generation has a right to contract debts greater than can be paid off during the course of its own existence.

I think that’s a very clear and very moral expression. It is not, however, what has been done.

A group formed recently under the phrase, “Not our debt.” I know nothing about the group, but their phrase is entirely correct. The debt of the US government does not belong to us, and we have no moral obligation to repay it.

Most of us do pay something toward that debt (which grows exponentially, just the same), but we should stay very clear as to why we pay. That reason, of course, is naked force, as in coercion and violence. There is no morality to it, except the morality that some people might invent, either to salve their consciences or as sycophants to power. (Though most  just do what everyone else does, never considering why.)

My advice is this: Do whatever you want as far as paying under threat, but don’t ever be confused about the morality of this situation. This is a swindle of gargantuan proportions. And that’s precisely what Thomas Jefferson believed. You can see this in a letter he wrote to John Taylor, dated May 28, 1816:

The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling posterity on a large scale.

Do what you need to do, but don’t ever think you have a moral responsibility to pay that kind of debt.

Paul Rosenberg

20 thoughts on “The Earth Belongs to the Living, Not to the Dead”

  1. Exactly right, Paul. I would go even farther, and say, not only is it immoral to try to charge the unborn for debts run up today, I’m quite sure it ain’t gonna happen! That is, the debt will be defaulted, possibly for pennies on the dollar, possibly for nothing.

    I think the Chinese (among others) have figured this out, and are trying to come up with a way to unload as much as they can without causing a panic. But there will be a panic moment, I’m quite sure, when the whole world will try to dump every promissory note the U.S. has outstanding.

    And I actually consider what I’ve written to be good news. Certainly for our grandchildren, compared to them actually shouldering our profligate debt.

    1. There is no other way other than a default (really, our inflation is a form of default). The only real question is whether it can be orderly or disorderly. The sad thing is it seems those in power, wielding the truncheon, seem hellbent to keep this charade going as long as possible, forcing us into a disorderly default and the chaos that will likely ensue. But, from the rubble, the mighty Phoenix can arise.

  2. At some point, the next generation will DEFAULT – and they should! You and I should be ashamed for what took place under our watch! Are we?

  3. ~~ yep; and I think it was Lysander Spooner who said the “U.S. Constitution” cannot in any way convey any contractual obligations or responsibilities on anybody in any succeeding generations after the initial signers’ generation died; its pretty much a null and void document we cling to in our self-deluding cognitive dissonance….

    1. The Constitution set up the government, and will ALWAYS limit this government’s powers, if the People hold the government to it. However, Spooner was right that contracts only bind those who sign them.

      1. I think the “chains of the Constitution” was meant to be a TOOL WTPeople can wield to limit govt’s powers, to wit:
        “But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks–no form of govt can render us secure. To suppose that any form of govt will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them”
        James Madison Virginia Ratifying Convention 1788
        ” A frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of the constitution, and a constant adherence to those of piety, justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality, are nec.y to preserve the advantages of liberty, and to maintain a free govt.”
        Massachusetts Bill of Rights, 1780
        And of course:
        “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

        At issue, Todd, is not the Constitution, or even “our” government/leaders; the issue is our woeful, will-ful, apathetic, and hubristic ignorance.
        tnx for dialoguing !!

        1. “I think the “chains of the Constitution” was meant to be a TOOL WTPeople can wield to limit govt’s powers…”

          More likely a tool the Founding Lawyers used to fool people into thinking they can limit a centralized government’s powers, as well as to overthrow the Articles of Confederation. There were enough escape clauses put into the Constitution, not to mention human nature, that there was precious little limiting going on. Even Jefferson violated it.

          1. ~~ ‘swhy i’ve said for 50 years we should all flush our toilets simultaneously and wash Malfunction Junction (aka: WashDC) into the Atlantic.
            This is too big to be “run” by a bunch of Mattoids on the right coast. An obvs option is to have 47** sovereign states–cant be any worse than what we’ve devolved into, the past century or so.

            ** oHIo aint now, aint never been, & aint never gonna be, a state.

  4. Well if you’re not a net taxpayer then you’re not paying off the debt. If you’re a net taxpayer but you don’t pay that much tax then you’re not really paying off the debt either. Then again being a U.S. citizen is optional. However another look at it would be akin to a person inheriting a lucrative investment portfolio – sure there’s debt with it but look at what the asset base the debt has obtained. I’m sure many a poor child in a poor part of the world isn’t inheriting much debt (if at all) but isn’t inheriting a high standard of living either.

    1. Your comment comes very close to implying that in order to live in a country with a high standard of living, one must pick a country that either already has, or is in the process of accumulating, a huge national debt. Nothing, I think, could be farther from the truth. The U.S. government pours huge amounts of money down rat holes: foreign wars, welfare that locks people into dependency, obscene medical regulations that drive up costs, and bail-outs of firms that should be allowed to fail, just to mention a few.

      Then again being a U.S. citizen is optional.

      But trying to get free of U.S. taxes is not so easy, if one follows the law. The U.S. is unique among nations in that if you expatriate, you STILL owe taxes for several more years. Those greedy, grasping criminals in Washington are absolutely insatiable.

      1. ~~ “…trying to get free of U.S. taxes is not so easy, if one follows the law…”
        Im sorry, but that idea involves a mutually exclusive term — an oxymoron.
        One must first KNOW THE LAW, if one is to follow it. And if one KNOWS THE LAW, one can easily challenge the IRS, because:

        There’s nothing in the IRS code which says:
        or that:
        YOU OWE TAXES.
        The IRS said years ago that our system of taxation is based on “voluntary compliance”; in other words, they deceive you into accepting their implications you are a TAXPAYER, so you auto-magically assess yourselves and send them a check, thinking you’ve beat the system again this year if you get a few bucks back.
        Its true Malfunction Junction (aka: WashCD) is insatiable, but the issue is we are totally ignorant concerning “our” American government, and specifically for this point, “our” system of taxation.

        1. Both Irwin Schiff and Wesley Snipes tried this and were jailed for it.

          The problem is that you presume the government and the courts follow their own rules. They do not.

          We have fully become a nation of men and not laws.

          1. ~~ 1. No sir; Irwin Schiff and most others–including “I presume” Wesley Snipes–did NOT argue on the basis of TAXPAYER vs NONTAXPAYER status, bur rather based their claims (ineffectually, I agree with you)–on the supposed illegality of the 16th (so-called “income tax”) Amendment, the (incorrect!) “fact” it created a new tax, and various other fraudulent or frivilous misconceptions.

            2. No sir, I make no such presumption. That is for folk who “presume or assume” they are TAXPAYERS simply cuz the 1040EZ booklet “says they are”–which,, it DOES NOT.

            3. I agree: “The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men.”
            Chief Justice of the U.S., John Marshall, speaking for the Court in the 1803 Marbury case.

            4. I anticipate dialoguing with you in a medium–more suitable than this–to lengthy discourses, explanations, references, &c.
            thanks for dialoguing, Gordon!
            kenn ~~ war4whatATgmailDOTcom

          2. ~~ Your statement about the govt & courts not following their own rules–the Constitution, f’rinstance–is something I concur with emphatically, but not in the case of taxation.
            While tis true, the Supremes typically sing off key and out of tune with their own peculiar dissonant fervor, in the case of taxation they have been spot on, for the most part.
            The prob is, we the folks are NOT spot on. In fact we’re totally ignorant of the Constitution, the Godless, UNamerican machinations of our government, tax laws, and other things;

            “…there is no danger I apprehend so much as the consolidation of our government by the noiseless, and therefore unalarming, instrumentality of the supreme court”.
            (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Wm Johnson, 1823)

    2. ~~ The U.S. Courts have stated:
      “The revenue laws are a code or system in regulation of tax assessment and collection. They relate to TAXPAYERS, and not to NONtaxpayers. The latter are without their scope. No procedure is prescribed for NONtaxpayers, and no attempt is made to annul ANY OF THEIR RIGHTS AND REMEDIES in due course of law.
      With them Congress does not assume to deal, and they are neither of the SUBJECT nor of the OBJECT of the revenue laws”
      Economy Plumbing and Heating v. United States, 470 F.2d 585, at 589 (Ct.Cl. 1972) [Emphasis added].

      The point is: are you engaged in ANY ACTIVITY which has been or can be taxed for revenue?
      I seriously doubt it, unless you’re a pimp, drug pusher, bond salesman, lawyer, federal govt employee, or such other societal bottom feeder that needs to be taxed out of existence.

    3. ~~ If you equate “…a high standard of living…” with taxes, tire-busting chuck-holes with pavement around them, victimless crimes such as helmets, seatbelts, speed, rolling stop-signs, out of control electric bills, heating bills, water/sewer bills, frozen pipes, “education” bills, foreign controlled food supplies, out of control health care, out of control and totally inept elected public servants, and a veritable host of other societal maladies which benefit me not at all, then I must disagree with your assessment of a so called high standard of living.

  5. But this is the logic of social justice/political correctness/affirmative action. MY group suffered at the hands of YOUR group in the past, so you owe me today. White Guilt. Rape Culture. It’s not that two wrongs make a right, we’re just, you know, leveling the playing field.

  6. Agreed. Nobody living or dead has a right to incur debt for me EXCEPT ME!
    Nobody can vote a debt on me that I am liable for. Voting to deprive another person of their rights or property, for any reason, is evil and immoral.

  7. The only problem with the line of argument in this article is that it seems to imply that we ARE responsible for the debt that has accumulated during our lifetime (in my case, most of it). That of course is not so. Debt is just another form of theft, which is what governments are always about. Doesn’t matter what generation you belong to.

  8. Paul, the government’s debt belongs to the government and the government alone. The government is a separate and distinct legal entity that has its own assets and debts.

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