It is not cognitive dissonance – the impossibility of holding two or more contradictory beliefs simultaneously – to favor the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump while at the same time worrying about what the increasing national debt (nearing $24 trillion and counting) will do to the country.

Are we mortgaging our future for the sake of temporary relief from the economic side effects of the coronavirus pandemic? If our elected representatives and unelected bureaucrats can effectively order the U.S. Treasury to print more money and borrow in continuing excess, what happens when the next crisis hits, or if the current one returns in the fall, as some medical experts believe it might? Where will it end? Is this a precedent that proponents of big government will use to justify even more spending on whatever future projects they choose?

Historically, debt has been a major contributor to the decline of great nations. It is why James Madison warned: “If Congress can employ money indefinitely, for the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public treasury. ... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.”

We are ignoring the prophetic nature of Madison’s statement at our peril. The philosophy of individual freedom is under assault. There are troops in the streets of some American cities and towns. Edicts are handed down by elected and unelected officials and “experts” on what is allowed and what is not permitted. Churches, as Madison feared, are closed. Most of us seem indifferent, having become intoxicated with the notion that anything government does must be good.

If Madison’s warning isn’t warning enough, how about this one from 18th-century Scottish lawyer, writer and historian Alexander Fraser Tytler: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”

Government is growing ever bigger with no spending cuts, no doing away with any program or agency, no matter how useless or outmoded it has become. Republicans used to consider national debt their issue. They are now joined at the pocketbook with Democrats and can never again argue against debt with any credibility.

While I have seen this quote attributed to Tytler associated with other names, whoever first said it correctly summarized the cycle of the world’s great civilizations: “From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.”

America, you have been warned by the ghosts of the past, but how many are listening and heeding those warnings?

If uncontrolled and unlimited spending continues, we might have to change the nation’s abbreviation from USA to ATM.

– Readers may email Cal Thomas at


(7) comments

Le Ecrivain

This time the government has some economists explaining that if the government creates the money it never runs out of it. What does run out is the ability of humans to continue the charade of negotiating over budget line items and debits and credits in the constant stream of lies that produce poverty in the name of budgets and priorities.

Enough Already 2

Mr. Thomas is speaking some truth, but where in the Hell has he been for the past three years as the President has led us into the greatest national debt of all time!

We are in the rabbit hole, but the Democrats and the Republicans realize that doing nothing at this point in time would be a more immediate failure of our nation. I suppose that some simplistic commentary will say it is 1000% this or 1000% that, but just what are they saying?

Perhaps they are just trying to say something, to be saying something!

Dr. Strangelove

Well said Mr. Thomas and 1000% true.

Dr. Strangelove

I'll repeat. Cal is 1000% correct. Your turn.

Enough Already 2

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with using percentages greater than 100%. Whether this makes sense depends entirely on the context.

There are situations in which a percentage greater than 100% makes no sense. For instance, if I state: "I responded to 143% of the forum comments that I received last week. "This makes no sense because if I received 23 comments, I couldn't possibly answer more than all of them. “It's just as nonsensical as saying "I ate 4/3 of the cake."

So yes, there is such a thing as a percentage larger than 100%, but not everything can have a percentage larger than 100%.

This phrase has become a byword for foolish and insincere exaggeration, and today is often used in irony or sarcasm!

So yes, I absolutely agree with you 1000%, Mr. Rains!

Dr. Strangelove

Thank you sir. I was just giving extra positive agreement to Cal's points. Thank you for the civil reply. I appreciate it and will always try and do the same.


Brent Rains

Dr. Strangelove

Side note to Enough Already 2. I use the name Dr. Strangelove as it is one of my favorite movies of all time. Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens. Very funny and full of satire.

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