National debt scaremongering: A century-long historical walkthrough.

This post contains an historical walkthrough of national debt scaremongering as done in political cartoons.

An alternative history is by Rodger Malcom Mitchell, in his 2020 post, Your periodic reminder. After 80 years, the federal debt still is a “ticking time bomb.” It documents debt scaremongering in popular “news” articles, from 1940 through today. In addition, it contains a section summarizing the reality of the national debt, via links to his past articles.

Related post: The reality of the national “debt” (that isn’t)
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These resources were created by Activist #MMT, the podcast (Twitter, Facebook, web, please consider becoming a monthly patron). This post was last updated September 9, 2020.

Disclaimer: I am a layperson who has studied MMT since February of 2018. I’m not an economist or academic and I don’t speak for MMT. The information in this post is my best understanding but I don’t assert it to be perfectly accurate. In order to ensure accuracy, you should rely on the expert sources linked throughout. If you have feedback to improve this post, please get in touch.

A history of political cartoons scaremongering about the national debt.

The below political cartoons make the false assumption that government (public) debt is the same as household (private) debt. This is the household analogy and it is… very incorrect. This scaremongering has been going on since the beginning, always predicting gloom at some point in the future.

The red-bordered screenshots (including the top-image to this post) come from Stephanie Kelton’s 2018 lecture, “But How Will We Pay for It? making Public Money Work for Us.” This was part of the Stonybrook University Presidential Lecture Series. (With thanks to Joe White in the Facebook group Intro to MMT – Modern Monetary Theory for directing me to this video.)