Is National Or Household Debt Wealth? Or Is Wealth Assets, Low Debt, Output VS Debt?
Let’s just have a session of mental gymnastics for a moment here.
Many neo-liberal economists like to give certain nations as examples of the successes of capitalism. Such nation examples include Singapore, Japan, Germany, Austria, Israel, South Africa, South Korea, Asian Tigers and the Scandinavian countries.
However, before I advance my argument, let’s take normal people as the benchmark. If a person lives a life on debt, yet they are not earning enough to amortize [pay off] that debt in future, plus if they don’t have enough assets to sell-off to pay that debt.
Can that person be deemed as wealthy or are they perceived as someone living beyond their means and jeopardizing their future? And is a person who lives beyond their means wealthy or wealthier than those with assets and no debts?
Of particular interest for me is not just national debt but household debt in which all US colonies which are driven by US debt, feature very highly as the most indebted nations in the world.
More critically is the fact most of these highly indebted households don’t seem to have resources or assets [land, mineral claims, crop harvests, water sources, livestock, IP, property] to amortize the debt in future in an increasingly mechanizing labor market where machines are taking over jobs.
So how are they going to pay for these debts? Let‘s address that question with the famous biblical quote: “the borrower is subject to the lender” in mind. Examples of high debt, low productive ( relative to debt), no asset owning, subject economies include Japan, Korea, Germany, France, Singapore, Britain and many of those in the above list.
I won’t add South Africa, Russia and Brazil there because they have huge resources, however, South Africa is a bit of a concern and misnomer due to the fact that it’s resources are owned by Britain, US and Europe.
As an after thought, maybe it’s more scientifically accurate for South Africa to trade places with the UK as a high debt, low asset and low productive nation considering that the UK controls more than $250bil of South Africa’s resource output and reserves, while South Africa controls none of its resources.
Now based on this analysis should any of these highly indebted western nations be considered as wealthly nations, yet they are living beyond their means and probably eating into their children’s futures?
Moreover, why are most of these so called civilized nations so highly indebted considering the wealth they have pillaged and stolen from the third world for centuries? Shouldn’t such mature “civilized nations” be more circumspect to spend only that which is in their means?
Meanwhile “less civilized” Zimbabweans (and most African countries) have some of the lowest house hold debt in the world but they also have vast assets: resource claims, virgin land, cultivated land, seeds, livestock, crop harvests, water sources and their labor to gear them into a very productive future.
Something to ponder as we continue to look at neoliberal economics from a myopic, biased lense.