By RICHARD ROSE
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Additional resources for Can Government Go Bankrupt?
It is far better to avoid trouble by anticipating it than to be wise after the event. The future is open, but not unconstrained. Past events have future consequences. The greater the weight of past spending commitments, the more restricted and the Iess palatable are the choices of an overloaded government. Because there is scope for choice, no government is necessarily driven to political bankruptcy; but no government can hope to avoid the consequences of past follies by relying upon a "hidden hand" mechanism to ensure that all will turn out for the best.
Moreover, many consumer goods important today, such as television or charterflight holidays, were not available then. Mass affiuence has resulted from the pervasive distribution of consumer goods that were once the prerogative of the few. In 1950, only in America was there an average of one automobile for each family. There was one car for every four families in France, five in Britain, seven in Sweden, twenty-one in Germany, and thirtysix in Italy. By the mid-1970S conditions had been transformed.
9 Governments can finance deficits by borrowing from their own citizens, if citizens will devote so me of their takehorne pay to government bonds rather than to personal consumption. Governments can also finance deficits by borrowing money from abroad, thus temporarily augmenting their national product by importing that of other countries. Governments can use their power of printing money to invoke the illusion of economic growth, but a big increase in the money supply does not produce a big increase in the goods and services that citizens can consume.