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Last December, we published a note titled The Long Now, Pt. 4 – SNIP! , as part of the Long Now series, which is still, I think, the best entry point for someone new to Epsilon Theory to figure out what all the fuss is about.

The note is about the cutting of the cord between taxes and spending, which is pretty much the last thing that keeps us citizen astronauts tethered to the spaceship of non-totalitarian government. And in that note I wrote this:

I think that whoever is elected in 2020, we will see a $2 trillion spending plan enacted in 2021.

If it’s a second term for Trump, it will be the 2021 Make America Great Again Act, and we will call them “Infrastructure Bonds”.

If it’s a first term for a Democrat, it will be the 2021 Take Back America Act or something like that (I suppose if it’s President Biden we can hope for the 2021 No Malarkey Act, although I’m rooting for the 2021 OK, Boomer Act), and we will call them “Green Bonds”.

Since then we got this in April:

Trump calls for $2 trillion infrastructure package as part of coronavirus response (CNBC)

And now this on Tuesday:

Joe Biden Unveils $2 Trillion Plan to Combat Climate Change (WSJ)

LOL. See, this is why you become a paid subscriber to Epsilon Theory. We can’t always write tomorrow’s headlines today. But we do try.

More seriously, though, I want to leave you with the conclusion to Snip! . Once the tether between taxes and spending is cut:

There are no limits to the retributive and malicious use of taxation as a political weapon.

There are no limits to the retributive and malicious use of spending as a political reward.

This isn’t a Democrat thing and this isn’t a Republican thing. It’s a power thing.

The Long Now is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better, and there is strength in numbers. Watch from a distance if you like, but you are welcome to join our pack.


  1. Hey, Ben - I love you, man, but there hasn’t been any tether between taxes and spending in a long, long time.

    As long as there is nothing “backing” a currency - gold, for instance - there’s no requirement to “fund” a currency-issuing sovereign through taxes (see Ruml, 1946, “Taxes for Revenue Are Obsolete”).

    And let me be clear, I’m not bringing MMT concepts into play here. This is just plain accounting. We use taxes to achieve political purposes (see Ruml), and to battle inflation when needed, but taxes aren’t needed to fund government operations.

    If I wanted to put on my MMT hat, I’d tell you that government spending funds taxes, not the other way around. But I won’t put on that hat today.

  2. “The Long Now is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better”

    This reminds me strongly of a scene in the movie “Serenity” (look up ‘Serenity much worse’ on YouTube to see a 12-second clip of it… not sure about the policies here on URLs in comments, or I’d just paste it here).

    That scene, and this comment, both break my heart in the same way… because I know they’re both completely true, and that fills me with trepidation.

    We need to think like River Tam in this, and try to hold onto hope like Simon Tam, at the same time. That’s… daunting.

  3. It is very daunting. It’s especially so when the response by some may be to take off & nuke them from orbit, just to be sure (if you’ll please pardon my sci-fi analogy). Patience, and self-control, are both gifts of the Spirit. These times call for a double-portion of each, so that we (I) don’t get discouraged. Thanks Ben & Rusty, for your excellent efforts to bring clarity of direction out of the chaos.

  4. Ben,

    I lean towards the idea that you & Rusty are writing the headlines in advance.
    That’s scary enough.

    The scarier idea is that through their underlings they are both subscribers that walk around saying: I love that Ben Hunt guy. He keeps giving me such great ideas! :wink:

  5. Your cultural diagnosis and your inspirational call-to-arms call-to-service reminds me of Allen Ginsberg’s poem,“America” which ends:
    …America this is quite serious.
    America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.   
    America is this correct?
    I’d better get right down to the job.
    It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
    America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel."

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum


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