The Revolutionary Debt Bomb - And How the Founders Fixed It!

Related Article
America’s Forgotten Depression... and Roaring Recovery!


By Larry Schweikart

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think our fiscal house is about to slide into the ocean?

Whether one accepts the government’s estimates of a national debt that nears $10 trillion, or whether one thinks the numbers provided by Richard Fisher of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, which includes all the “unfunded” parts of Medicare (A, B, and D) at another $85.6 trillion, for a total of $95.6 trillion, the United States faces a staggering level of debt.[i] And Fisher’s numbers do not include Social Security, which now, for the first time, has seen its out-flows exceed its income, and which adds another $10 trillion (at least) to the totals. The Medicare debt alone would stick each American family of four with a bill of $1.3 million, or about 25 times the average household’s income. Taken together, these levels of debt exceed the Gross National Product of probably half the nations in the world put together.

But history offers some hope. The young republic of the United States of America faced an equally daunting debt bomb in 1788, and, perhaps given the new nation’s utter lack of credit history, an even greater challenge than we face today. But the Founders dug their way out to the point of fiscal solvency fairly quickly, and within a decade the nation was viewed as a sterling credit risk. How was this possible?

It began with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton—often a punching bag for some conservatives because of his big-government proclivities. But Hamilton knew that the only way to establish credit was to pay your bills. The situation confronting the United States, coming out of the Revolutionary War and the Articles of Confederation, was this: states had issued their own debt—some more, some less than others—and the United States, through the Continental Congress had also accumulated debts. Hamilton insisted the nation had to pay them all, and that a policy of “assumption” was the only sure way to convince foreign investors that we were an honorable Republic and not a banana republic! Despite fierce battles, he carried the day in Congress: the U.S. would pay all debts accumulated by the national and state governments. But how? Hamilton’s genius showed in his next maneuver, as he knew he needed to attract the “monied men,” as he called them. He structured a “menu” of new bond/debt options, in which longer-term debts received higher returns. Thus, if an investor had little confidence in the United States, he took short-term bonds which paid off less; and if an investor thought the nation would survive and prosper, he bought long-term bonds with their higher payoff. Throughout it all, Hamilton, contrary to popular opinion, did not wish to see the country saddled with debt. He said debt “is perhaps the NATURAL DISEASE of all governments,” and his first actions as Treasury Secretary were designed to reduce the nation’s indebtedness.[ii]

Hamilton’s restructuring of the debt on the surface may have resembled what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of “Koli-for-nya” did in 2004, but only on the surface. Hamilton ensured that payments on the debt went to the oldest debt first, and through a “sinking fund,” no new debt could be contracted until the old debt had been settled—in essence setting the United States up with an “American Express” version of credit instead of a Mastercard/Visa “revolving” credit line. So while the U.S. indebtedness remained at about $83 million when Thomas Jefferson became president, the payments on interest remained at a minimum.

In part, Hamilton also knew that he could count on those whom he knew well—President George Washington, plus John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson (two men quite likely to hold the office in the future)—to limit spending and to practice federal frugality. Indeed they did. They ran the government with a handful of secretaries and a few hundred public officials; they carefully watched expenditures, with the largest being the construction of four large frigates under Adams and Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana for $15 million. Yet despite the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson still managed to slice more than one-quarter off the national debt.

All the Founders recognized that for the “monied men” to ally with the new nation, it had to honor its contracts (which it did through assumption); it had to establish a sound currency (which it did by adopting a gold standard and coining money along the Spanish system of tens and fives); and by paying its debts, which it did. By the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the nation had a surplus, but more important, it had a sterling credit record, and investment money flowed into the new nation. Hamilton, Washington, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson had all adroitly kept the “Revolutionary Debt Bomb” from exploding, and instead leveraged it for the growth of future generations. The key was confidence—confidence in the fiscal frugality and restraint of the leaders, confidence by the business sector in the government. Do either of those exist today?

While the numbers are staggering, like all numbers they matter little compared to the “animal spirits” of entrepreneurship, investment, and business growth. A sunny Ronald Reagan dug the U.S. out of deep straits just 30 years ago. The Founders, operating with even less, founded a nation on confidence and freedom, and the lessons of history tell us that such turnarounds can occur if the nation is determined to once again defuse its debt bomb.

Larry Schweikart

University of Dayton

co-author, A Patriot’s History of the United States


[i]. Richard W. Fisher, “Storms on the Horizon,” Remarks before the Commonwealth Club of California, May 28, 2008.

[ii]. One of the best analyses of Hamilton’s program is in Charles Calomiris, “Alexander Hamilton,” in Larry Schweikart, ed., The Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography: Banking and Finance to 1913 (New York: Facts on File, 1990).

Bill O'Reilly joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Friday to talk about how he thinks President Donald Trump will fair in the 2020 election given the current struggling economy due to the coronavirus crisis.

O'Reilly said he believes President Trump will win in November if the coronavirus pandemic is under control by this summer, but if schools and businesses are still closed by September, it may be trouble for Trump -- even with former vice president Joe Biden's seemingly declining health.

"What I've said from the very beginning of this whole ordeal, is that if Donald Trump can get the pandemic under control this summer, he wins. If by September, it's not under control, the kids cannot go back to school in many places, people are not opening up businesses again, he loses," O'Reilly said.

However, the Democrats have a major problem because Joe Biden ... is tottering. His mental acute is not what it used to be and everyone around him knows that. That's why Andrew Cuomo is warming up in the bullpen," he added. "But Trump knows that his whole future in politics depends on getting this pandemic to subside."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

BILL O'REILLY: Trump 2020 Election Based on Controlling Coronavirus Pandemic by Summer youtu.be


In response to the COVID-19 quarantine, BlazeTV is offering our BIGGEST discount ever! Get $30 off your subscription when you use promo code GLENN. Claim your special offer at https://get.blazetv.com/glenn/.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream

Glenn gives the latest coronavirus numbers, updating YOU on everything needed to know as Americans and officials monitor China's new COVID-19 virus:

Daily Stats as of 5:30 AM CT (from John's Hopkins)

  • Total Confirmed Cases Worldwide: 1,030,324 (up from 950,638 Yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Deaths Worldwide: 54,226 (up from 48,289 Yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Recovered Worldwide: 219,896 (up from 202,631 Yesterday)
  • 5% of Active Cases are considered serious (requiring hospitalization) Steady from 5% Yesterday, but down from 19% high back in February
  • Note that 12% of US Confirmed Cases require Hospitalization, roughly on par with Italy at 12% requiring hospitalization and lower than Spain, where 18% of patients require hospitalization.
  • US has 245,380 Confirmed Cases and 6,095 Deaths, up from 215,344 cases and 5,112 deaths yesterday
  • The US currently has 228,874 Active Cases of COVID-19, with about 1% of the US Population tested
  • 15% of Americans who have been tested have been diagnosed with COVID-19
White House to Recommend All Americans Wear Face Masks in Public https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/02/coronavirus-facemasks-policyreversal/
  • The White House is poised to urge Americans to wear cloth masks or face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, in a reversal of earlier advice.
  • President Trump said Thursday at a coronavirus task force briefing that "a recommendation is coming out," but "I don't think it will be mandatory. If people want to wear them, they can."
  • Later, however, a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to relate internal discussions, said that the guidance being considered is "narrowly targeted to areas with high community transmission" and that the matter remains under discussion.
  • A new Memo from the CDC states: "In light of new data, along with evidence of widespread transmission in communities across the country, CDC recommends the community use of cloth masks as an additional public health measure people can take to prevent the spread of the virus to those around them."
  • The recommendations represent a major change in CDC guidance that healthy people don't need masks or face coverings.
  • The news comes as Laredo, TX joins more than a dozen American cities or Counties that have mandated the use of face masks for all persons in public spaces such as grocery stores or shopping centers. Violaters without a facemask risk up to a $1000 fine. https://www.foxnews.com/us/texas-city-fine-people-who-dont-cover-faces-outside-coronavirus
  • Similar provisions are being considered for the entire State of California, according to Governor Gavin Newsom's office.
Anti-body Tests Getting Accelerated Availability https://news.yahoo.com/antibody-tests-key-ending-covid-19-lockdowns-162305617.html
  • Unlike Vaccine testing and production which could take months or years, SARS-CoV-2 Antibody tests could be available in the US in a few weeks.
  • Such tests could be key in enabling the partial lifting of lockdown and shelter-in-place orders, as authorities could determine who might already have immunity to the virus and could return to work.
  • "If we can determine someone's already had the virus and now has immunity and is no longer contagious to others, that's what we're looking for here," said Anthony Fauci in Thursday's White House COVID-19 Task Force update.
  • However, it should be noted that researchers have yet to determine if anti-body production renders people permanently or only temporarily immune to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
  • While some Virus immunities, such as Chicken Pox, are generally permanent immunities, others, such as SARS-1 and Rhinovirus (the common cold) grant only short-term, multi-month immunity...which is why people can get a cold each year.
  • Most known Coronavirus immunities in humans are not permanent, researchers have noted. Influenza, for example, grants only seasonal immunity and can be caught again only a few months later.
Lord Have Mercy...Hospital Ships Sit Empty https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/nyregion/ny-coronavirus-usns-comfort.html
  • The much-touted Navy Hospital Ships in New York and Los Angeles sit 95% empty as of Thursday evening.
  • In New York, The USNS Comfort's 1,000 beds are largely unused, its 1,200-member crew mostly idle. "We're waiting for patients," one nurse was quoted by the New York Times.
  • Only 20 patients had been transferred to the ship, officials said, even as New York hospitals struggled to find space for the thousands infected with the coronavirus.
  • Another Navy hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, docked in Los Angeles, has had a total of 15 patients, officials said.
  • "If I'm blunt about it, it's a joke," said Michael Dowling, the head of Northwell Health, New York's largest hospital system. "Everyone can say, 'Thank you for putting up these wonderful places and opening up these cavernous halls.' But we're in a crisis here, we're in a battlefield."
  • What's the issue? In classic government style: Red Tape.
  • On top of its strict rules preventing people infected with the virus from coming on board, the Navy is also refusing to treat a host of other conditions. Guidelines disseminated to hospitals included a list of 49 medical conditions that would exclude a patient from admittance to the ship.
  • Ambulances cannot take patients directly to the Comfort; they must first deliver patients to a city hospital for a lengthy evaluation — including a test for the virus — and then pick them up again for transport to the ship. With 911 call centers already massively over-capacity, ambulances aren't available to take non-infected persons to each ship.
  • Meanwhile, across New York hospitals are overrun. Patients have died in hallways before they could even be hooked up to one of the few available ventilators in New York. Doctors and nurses, who have had to use the same protective gear, again and again, are getting sick.
  • "So many people are dying that the city is running low on body bags," Dowling said. "The Coroner's office told our administrator to start double-wrapping bodies in sheets for the time being."
In Hopeful Sign, University of Pittsburgh Researchers May Have Found COVID-19 Vaccine https://nypost.com/2020/04/02/scientists-believe-they-found-potential-coronavirus-vaccine/
  • Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine believe that they've found a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus.
  • The researchers announced their findings Thursday and believe the vaccine could be rolled out quickly enough to "significantly impact the spread of disease," according to their study published in EBioMedicine.
  • The vaccine would be delivered on a small, fingertip-sized patch. When tested on mice, the vaccine produced enough antibodies believed to successfully counteract the virus.
  • The scientists say they were able to act fast because they had already done research on the similar coronaviruses SARS and MERS.
  • The Trump Administration ordered the FDA to fast-track the next phase of Animal trials for the experimental vaccine.
  • Officials did warn that even if successful, human trials and ultimate production could still be as many as 12-18 months away.
  • "It's early, but this is a very positive result," the lead scientist said in an interview. "We're well on our way."
Vermont, Maryland Make Buying Seeds to Grow Food Illegal https://www.eagletimes.com/covid_19/large-retailers-stop-in-person-sales-of-nonessential-items-in-vermont/article_c1d0e43c-7432-11ea-8ca9-a30ed891d9fd.htmlimage.png Canada's Farmers Warn of Food Supply Impact Due to Non-Essential Designation https://ipolitics.ca/2020/04/02/the-sprout-canadian-farmers-worry-for-food-supply/, https://business.financialpost.com/commodities/agriculture/agriculture-sector-scrambling-to-offset-consequences-of-covid-19-crisis
  • Canada's government issues a list of industries and jobs it deemed essential, including food delivery, shipping & logistics, medical care, energy production & delivery.
  • One industry that was glaringly absent: agricultural production.
  • Like the US, Canada's agricultural industry relies on migrant and seasonal workers to plant and harvest foods, especially key fruits and vegetables that must be picked by hand.
  • Industry representatives have begun to petition the government to include Ag production an essential service so travel restrictions can be relaxed to allow workers to travel into Canada and use of public transportation systems to get to where planting activities must occur soon to allow for Fall food harvests.
  • Canada's Federation of Independent Grocers also extended a warning to the Government that it projects food costs in Canada could rise by as much as 90% in the coming months due to COVID-19 related disruptions. https://nationvalleynews.com/2020/04/01/grocers-group-warns-rising-food-costs-come/
Industry Expert Warns Illness Among Agricultural Workers Could Threaten US Food Supplies https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/markets/an-outbreak-among-farm-workers-would-be-catastrophic/ar-BB1257dl
  • Much of the US food supply chain is staffed by low-wage workers, many of them undocumented immigrants with limited ties to health services.
  • The Pew Research Center has estimated that about one-quarter of U.S. farmworkers are undocumented.
  • A 2019 U.S. Department of Labor survey estimated that the share of field workers who are undocumented is closer to half of all farmworkers.
  • The food processing industry also has high numbers of undocumented workers, as do many of the nation's smaller grocers and fast-food restaurants.
  • Immigrant farming communities are often close-knit, with laborers living and working in close proximity, with workers sharing hotel rooms and even make-shift Tents with cots, to save on costs.
  • As the California-based Western Growers Association states, "Social distancing is difficult or perhaps impossible in certain settings such as harvesting, transport (of workers) and housing."
  • One California grower told National Public Radio that if the coronavirus penetrates the agricultural community, "it will spread like wildfire."
  • The news comes as Mexico only recently restricted movements and travel, issuing shelter-in-place orders for 90% of the country.
  • The Trump Administration recently eased restrictions on H-2a Ag Worker visas, but industry experts warned many workers planned to stay in Mexico or other Central American countries due to travel restrictions now in effect in those countries. https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-03-27/state-department-eases-requirements-for-h2a-visa
  • The Western Growers Association currently estimates a 30% reduction in labor force this year, which may be further impacted if COVID-19 spreads among workers who live and work in tight close quarters.
LA Mayor: "Snitches Get Rewards" https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/03/31/coronavirus-los-angeles-eric-garcetti-snitches-get-rewards/
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced new guidelines for construction sites that continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic while encouraging the community to report businesses that violate the Safer at Home order.
  • Garcetti said that since the stay at home order was put in place, the city has been told about construction sites that have not been following the guidelines set out in that order.
  • "You know the old expression about snitches, well in this case snitches get rewards," Garcetti said. "We want to thank you for turning folks in and making sure we are all safe."
  • As of Tuesday afternoon, Garcetti said "business ambassadors" from the city had visited 540 businesses that had not complied with the Safer at Home order. Of those, 144 were visited by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department to ensure compliance with the order.
  • So far, Four businesses have been referred to the city attorney's office for misdemeanor filings.
  • The story comes as business owners across the US have been cited and even arrested for violating House Arrest orders, many turned in by way of anonymous calls to police departments. https://apnews.com/343ed4a8e95dfc8f8dda87b9e450ca57
In Germany, Hundreds of Citations Handed Out Based on Anonymous Reports and Emails to Police Departments https://news.trust.org/item/20200402160625-8y12u
  • (Headline Bloomberg News) Germans snitch on neighbors flouting virus rules, in an echo of the Stasi past
  • Law-abiding Germans are zealously helping police crackdown on people flouting new social distancing rules aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus by reporting on strangers, neighbors and friends.
  • In a country where denunciation was commonplace under the Communists in East Germany and Hitler's Nazis, police forces across the country are getting tip-offs on anything from "corona parties" to people driving to weekend cottages.
  • Rules introduced in March forcing restaurants, pubs and sports facilities to shut and banning gatherings of people have given police plenty of work. With the number of corona cases and deaths climbing fast, there is no sign of easing enforcement.
  • Since March 14, police in the German capital have ordered 830 pubs, shisha bars and other establishments to shut and recorded 898 crimes.
  • "We are getting tip-offs from the public about open restaurants or large gatherings of people in parks," said a spokeswoman, adding officers were, as always, ready to deal with information from the public.
  • Forces around Germany are in a similar situation. Munich police took up to 150 calls every day last week from citizens reporting alleged breaches of corona rules, according to Spiegel Online.

For weeks now, our political leaders and the media have been repeating the World Health Organization's claim that non-medical-grade face masks don't work when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. So, why are infectious disease experts now reconsidering their guidelines?

According to the New York Times, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, said the guidance on wearing non-medical masks is "being critically re-reviewed, to see if there's potential additional value for individuals that are infected or individuals that may be asymptomatically infected."

In actuality, they didn't trust the American people to do the right thing and prioritize healthcare workers to receive masks first, opined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday. But they do work, and "if we're going to open the country up, we are going to all have to wear face masks," he said.

Listen to the clip to hear more details:

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Face Masks DO Work, US Cases Per Capita, and WHO Lies for Communist China youtu.be

In response to the COVID-19 quarantine, BlazeTV is offering our BIGGEST discount ever! Get $30 off your subscription when you use promo code GLENN. Claim your special offer at https://get.blazetv.com/glenn/.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

William "Bill" Kelly is 95-year-old World War II veteran from Oregon. He lived through the Great Depression.
He served in the South Pacific during World War II. And now he has just fought the coronavirus -- and won.

Bill joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to share his experience and a hopeful message about why the younger generations can overcome this crisis.

"I want to tell the people, it wasn't pleasant, but on the other hand, you know, if you do what you're supposed to do, and you have some loved ones around you, and do a lot of praying, why, you'll come through okay. We [American's] have been through a lot. We've been through Pearl Harbor. We've been through the Great Depression, and who knows what else. We're tough. We'll get through it. Hang in there," Bill said.

"You know, it's just -- it's in our American blood," he added. "We're that type of people. We take care of each other, and we are not going to break down. We're going to make it through, every time. Every time."

"There are people that don't think we are those people anymore. That it was the greatest generation -- your generation -- that did it, but now we're not the same people. Do you agree with that? Glenn asked.

"No," asserted Bill. "And the reason I say that is because I remember when I was a young kid, you know, and people, the older people, said 'all those young kids are soft' ... but when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor -- sneak attack, you know -- it's surprising how those so-called goofy kids turned into mighty fine fighting people. And they're very loyal. I have lots of faith in them ... no, I don't have any problems with this new generation. They'll take care of us. We're Americans."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

In response to the COVID-19 quarantine, BlazeTV is offering our BIGGEST discount ever! Get $30 off your subscription when you use promo code GLENN. Claim your special offer at https://get.blazetv.com/glenn/.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.