Section 4

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, section 4


The debt ceiling has been used by both sides of the political divide in order to try to protect it’s agenda while at the same time using it as agitprop against the other party.  But there is an argument that is far above the political crap that has been going on here.  The argument is that section 4 of the 14th amendment of the constitution protects the government from defaulting on it’s debt.  It makes the point that the government is obliged to pay it’s debts.  To ignore our debt, or to let the debt ceiling lapse (for lack of a better term) causing the government to default is unconstitutional.

Both sides of the political debate have made this point, albeit to themselves more or less. It is no surprise then, that the combination of bumping into the debt ceiling, and the breakdown in negotiations due to the political hostage taking that the political right has been foisting on the American people, has brought this argument to the fore.

Any attempt by congress to even attempt to drop the ball here is blatantly and simply against the law, entirely unconstitutional. Any argument that allows our debts to go unpaid goes against the law of the land, of the Constitution of the United States itself.


Viddy of the day: Breakingviews: U.S. default argument–it’s unconstitutional.  The first two minutes are about the debt ceiling argument, the second half is about tech stocks.  Good stuff.


I do find it curious, but not surprising, that with this little piece of knowledge about the 14th amendment floating around that there are people, even people in the know, who continue to argue about this subject like the debt ceiling is somehow important.  How could it be, if the law simply states that DEBTS GET PAID, NO IF’S ANDS OR BUTS?  I find it curious indeed.

But then again, with the amount of arguing that people have been doing on this subject, and knowing that when people invest that much sweat into an argument, they are generally loathe to give that argument up, it isn’t a surprise that this debt ceiling horse-crap has lasted as long as it has.

Most people usually think they are right simply because they hold an opinion.  Usually up until the point that the wrongness of their points are rubbed, figuratively, in their faces (and sometimes even that won’t suffice.)  So, it really isn’t a surprise that the debt ceiling, as an argument used to score political points, or as anything but the anachronistic thought that it is, is still here.

One wonders why those who knew this, who thought about this issue in it’s proper light from the beginning didn’t simply scream this from the mountaintops.  I for one never even thought about reading the constitution when thinking about the debt.  Silly me.  Why I do not know.  Perhaps because I was reading this as a news and economic event, rather than in it’s true light.  Which is that it is a legal matter.

That is what I get for attaching myself too closely to my normal sources of information.

And this whole story begs other questions, on which I may write on at a later date, one which I will ask but not answer, not yet anyway.

Why have we worked with and lived with the idea of a debt ceiling for the better part of 90 years, when it is clearly unnecessary horse manure, when it hasn’t kept us from spending, hasn’t made us more fiscally responsible, and hasn’t had any real legal strength since it’s inception?


That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

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