As Lawrence Summer eloquently noted in his June 13th WSJ op ed,
Martin S. Feldstein was a great economist who changed the world through research, teaching, public service, hundreds of op-eds in these pages over 40 years, and leadership of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Marty, who died Tuesday at 79, didn’t lack for recognition. He earned the American Economic Association’s John Bates Clark medal and then its presidency, chairmanship of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, numerous honorary degrees, and memberships in prestigious scholarly and policy groups.
It was all well-deserved and has been well-chronicled in his obituaries. For me, though, Marty’s death isn’t merely the loss of an economics superstar; it is the loss of a mentor and friend who, through his teaching, generosity of spirit and example, made possible everything I have been able to achieve professionally. Countless others can say the same about him, in their own ways.
The Journal also published on the same page an article which contained excerpts from four of Feldstein’s earlier op eds. You can read those here.
However, it was the last one, written on March 21, 2019 less than a month before he died that prompts this op ed.
The most dangerous domestic problem facing America’s federal government is the rapid growth of its budget deficit and national debt.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit this year will be $900 billion, more than 4% of gross domestic product. It will surpass $1 trillion in 2022. The federal debt is now 78% of GDP. By 2028, it is projected to be nearly 100% of GDP and still rising. All this will have very serious economic consequences, and the CBO understates the problem. It has to base its projections on current law—in this case, the levels of spending and the future tax rules and rates that appear in law today.
Those levels don’t match realistic predictions. Current law projects that defense spending will decline as a share of GDP, from a very low 3.1% now to about 2.5% over the next 10 years. None of the military and civilian defense experts with whom I’ve spoken believe that will happen, given America’s global responsibilities and the need to modernize U.S. military equipment. It is likelier that defense spending will stay around 3% of GDP or even increase in the coming decade. And if the outlook for defense spending is increased, the Democratic House majority will insist that the nondefense discretionary spending should rise to match its trajectory….
Lawmakers don’t like to cut spending, but they have to do something. Otherwise the exploding national debt will be an increasing burden on our children, economic growth and our future standard of living.
Limits! Something our finite planet’s inhabitants are constantly ignoring whether it be in spending beyond our capacity or polluting our environment as so eloquently observed by many experts or in adding human numbers who can’t be taken care of! The Population Connection’s June 2019 article citing the opinion of E.O. Wilson that “Runaway population growth (is) at epicenter of environmental problems.”
You can read his full article again here.
How long before the Armageddon predicted above occurs? I guess the human lottery game being played by all of us leaves that question for the future. Having 7 great granddaughters I truly care for their future. But the trend toward a dangerously attacked planet, our only home, has been well documented by the numerous articles on this website and others over the years. At 88 I expect to learn by 2025 that that there will be 8 billion of us which will mean world population has grown 4 times in my lifetime.
From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013
By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
The Origin of “Limits to Growth” – Interview with Dennis Meadows
UN biodiversity report: What extinctions mean for humanity | DW News
Vatican control of World Health Organization population policy: An interview with Milton P. Siegel
Catholic Church – Unethical Obstruction of Family Planning
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