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Index to The Happy Days Ahead

The Happy Days Ahead

By Robert A. Heinlein

 previous page

The Happy Days Ahead                           553

Time Span—The Cancerous Explosion of Government

    Will Rogers told us that we were lucky in that we didn't get as much government as we pay for.  He was (and is) emphatically right ... but he died 15 August 1935.  The Federal government spent $6,400,000,000 in the last 12 months of his tragically short life.  The year he was born (1879) the Federal government spent $274,000,000—an expensive year, as we resumed paying specie for the Greenback Inflation, $346,700,000 of fiat money.
    What would Will Rogers think of a budget of $300 billion and up?

Prepared by the U.S. Bureau of the Census)

                       Fed. Employees      Fed. Receipts
Census               + State & Local   - Fed. Expenditure
 Year      Population  Total Pub. Emp.   Surplus/(Deficit)   Fed. Public Debt
 1910      91,972,266     388,708          $675,512,000       $1,146,940,000
                             ?             $693,617,000

 1920     105,710,620     655,265        $6,648,898,000      $24,299,321,000
                             ?           $6,357,677,000

 1930     122,755,046     601,319        $4,057,884,000      $16,185,310,000
                        2,622,000          $320,211,000
                        3,223,319        $3,737,673,000

 1940     131,669,275   1,042,420        $6,900,000,000      $50,700,000,000
                        3,206,000        $9,600,000,000
                        4,248,420       ($2,700,000,000)

 1950     150,697,361   1,960,708       $40,900,000,000     $256,900,000,000
                        4,098,000       $43,100,000,000
                        6,058,708       ($2,200,000,000)

 1960     178,464,236   2,398,704       $92,500,000,000     $290,900,000,000
                        6,083,000       $92,200,000,000
                        8,481,704          $300,000,000

 1970     203,235,298   2,981,574      $193,700,000,000     $382,600,000,000
                        9,830,000      $196,600,000,000
                       12,811,574       ($2,900,000,000)

 1980     222,000,000   3,600,000      $300,000,000,000     $525,000,000,000
                       14,500,000      $310,000,000,000
                       18,100,000      ($10,000,000,000)


554               EXPANDED UNIVERSE

(1980 figures are extrapolations = wild guesses)
(Too timid?) Much too timid!—as you knew when you read them, as I knew when I prepared them.  I plotted all of the above figures on graph paper, faired the curves, suppressed what I knew by memory (even refrained from consulting World Almanacs to bridge the 9 years since the close of compilation of THE STATISTICAL HISTORY) and extrapolated to 1980 by the curves—not tangent, but on the indicated curve.
    By the best figures I can get from Washington today (20 Nov 1979) the budget is $547,600,000,000; the expected deficit is $29,800,000,000; and our current Federal Public Debt is estimated at $886,480,000,000.(!!!)
    The end of the Federal fiscal year, September 30, is still over ten months away.  In ten months a lot of things can happen.  Unexpected events always cause unexpected expense ... but with great good luck the deficit will not increase much and the National Public Debt will stay under $900,000,000,000.
    In case of war, all bets are off.
    What is happening is what always happens in fiat-currency inflation: After a certain point, unpredictable as to date because of uncountable human variables, it becomes uncontrollable and the currency becomes worthless.  Dictatorship usually follows.  From there on anything can happen—all bad.
    The Greenback Inflation did not result in collapse of the dollar and of constitutional government because gold backing was not disavowed, simply postponed for a relatively short time.  The Greenback Party wanted to go on printing paper money, never resume specie payment—but eventually we toughed it out and paid hard money for the Greenbacks that had financed the Union side of the war.  From 1862 to 1879 gold and silver were not used internally.  Our unfavorable balance of trade for 1861-65, which had to be met in gold, was $296,000,000.  Hard times and high taxes—but we made it.



For the rest of the story you'll have to get yourself a copy of the book.  And yes, there is a proposal for a good ending to it all (''Over the Rainbow" page 558), although it will most likely never happen that way.

Robert Heinlein, being the practical man that he is, applied common sense in imagining a solution.  Unfortunately, common sense was buried a long time ago in the purges that came with the implementation of the feminist curriculum that is the source of so much pride for the AAUW who are in control of virtually everything now and who perpetuate their control through the new generation of university graduates that ostensibly possess much self-esteem [*] but in fact have little common sense.  Instead of applying common sense in the remaking of our society, ideologist have put a strangle-hold on our society and its economy. [* Update 2008 05 11: It is strongly recommended to take a look at "SHOULD SCHOOLS TRY TO BOOST SELF ESTEEM? Beware the dark side", by Roy F. Baumeister]
    Most certainly we'll eventually find a way out of the educational, social and financial mess we got ourselves into.  We'll start taking it when we determine that we can no longer afford to put our emphasis on "bread and circuses," when we'll be forced to strip our style of life of everything but what is absolutely necessary and concentrate on what is required to permit us to survive.  Let's hope that we don't slide into a social chaos like that which followed the collapse of the centrally planned society and economy in the USSR.
    As many people often say: "Things've got to get a lot worse before they get better."  We came a long way since Robert Heinlein wrote down his thoughts on all of this, and things did become a lot worse.  How much worse they can become remains to be seen.  However, there is little hope now that the ultimate collapse of the social security safety-nets that some people forecast for the 2010-15 time-frame will be staved off.
    In the mean-time, as long as we have courageous people like Jean Chretien who annually declare proudly that Canada is once more the best country in the world to live in—because the UN told us so—and as long as there is a sufficient number of people to believe him, we have nothing to fear, right?*  Happiness is a state of the mind.  It can't be measured and as long as we believe what we are told we will be happy, because quite literally ignorance is bliss when it comes to the matter of refusing to accept reality.

* The Fraser Institute proposes a more realistic alternative to the United Nations' Human Development Index. According to that, Canada's rank was 16th in the world as of 1999, and the US was 1st.

The following graph and associated table show a continuation of the information that Robert A. Heinlein presented on page 553.  I'll try to update them as I find more information over time.  However, follow the advice given by Robert A. Heinlein in his foreword to "The Happy Days."  Hang on to your hat.
    Some of the population figures in the graph are projections made by the US Census Bureau (1995 - 2000).  The population figures shown for 1991 - 1994 are extrapolations I made.  The level of accuracy of the extrapolations is sufficient for the resolution of the graph, but they don't represent exact population figures.  I showed three different scales on the graph so that the bars show the relationships a bit better.
    I could not find a source that gives me a comprehensive set of these data for all of the years.

The scary thing about the situation is that the liabilities of social insurances aren't shown in the overall debt figures.  In Canada, those figures make up roughly 4/5th to 9/10th of the federal debt.  In the US not all of those liabilities apply, and I don't think that their proportion of the true debt in the US is as high, but they must still be substantial.  On the other hand,  social insurance contributions shouldn't show up in general revenues, but they do.  That makes them a tax and not an insurance premium or an investment.

US politicians, just like the Canadian ones, don't talk about those liabilities (Canada Pension, Employment Insurance, Old Age Security, Health Care Insurance).  Nobody should find fault with that.  After all, these liabilities are more than the portion of the national debt they dare talk about and are simply too embarassing.  The last time a prominent Canadian government employee spoke about them, he was fired.

In Canada, those differences are substantial if you look at them on a per capita basis ($12,000/cap. vs. $108,000/cap.).

See also Does Moral Decline equal Economic Decline?

Have a look at how things evolved over time in the US.

The information in the graph is based on the following table

Census Year Total Public 
/10000 Cap.
Fed. Public Debt/Cap. Population (100,000) Population
1930 262.6 132 1227.6 122,755,046
1940 322.7 385 1316.7 131,669,275
1950 402.0 1705 1506.0 150,697,361
1960 475.3 1630 1784.6 178,464,236
1970 630.4 1883 2032.4 203,235,298
1980 815.3 3993 2220.0 222,000,000
1990     2487.1 248,709,873
1991   14,522  2536.1  253,609,872
1992   15,955  2559.0  255,896,876
1993   17,181  2582.0  258,204,504
1994   18,122  2605.3  260,532,942
1995      2628.8  262,882,378
1996      2652.5  265,253,000
1997      2676.4 267,645,000
1998      2700.0  270,002,000
1999      2723.3  272,330,000
2000      2746.3  274,634,000

See also:

Feminism For Male College Students A Short Guide to the Truth, by Angry Harry (Off-Site)


2001 02 02 (format changes)
2001 10 29 (added footnote about UN's Human development Index)
2006 03 04 (added link to Feminism for Male College Students)