Posted by: aboutalbion | July 10, 2012

The morality of the national debt

I posted yesterday about one person’s dream of a return in the UK to a shared morality.  I turn today to the question of the national debt.  I am uneasy that my country is living beyond its means.

I am concerned that the UK national debt stands at around £1 trillion (and rising), and that the annual amount of interest that is paid out from public funds to service this debt is approaching £50 billion (and rising).  This amount of interest represents the fourth largest head of public expenditure (after social security, health, and education).

I would like to begin to float the moral case for the UK moving towards reducing the national debt to an average level of … zero.

Apart from national emergencies, I would like the UK to finance current public expenditure out of current taxation, because I consider it immoral to borrow ‘spending money’ today and to presume that our children and grandchildren will consent to repay it years later.

I consider it immoral to incentivize UK politicians to promise to reduce taxation for electoral purposes – knowing that they can make up any shortfall in public revenue by increasing the national debt (at quite a small apparent cost).

I consider it immoral to incentivize overseas investors to buy UK bonds when their funds could be more strategically used for investment purposes in their own countries.

I suggest that any dreams of a national shared morality need to begin with a consideration of the UK national debt.  So far as I can see, a culture of ‘something for nothing’ does not promote responsibility in civil society.

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