Since the unfunded liabilities do, unfortunately, exist I reluctantly believe in them. I would prefer to hide my head in the sand, and not believe in them, but they are real, despite any attempts at levity about them.
Oh I DO BELIEVE that they are tallied up somewhere in some ledger.
I do not however believe that they are the ticking time bomb they're cast as because the bigger time bomb is what we're doing now in the name of unfunded liabilities, which is basically actions which threaten to turn us third world in the next decade or even sooner.
Banking excesses, irresponsible lending practices, "malinvestment", credit-induced asset bubbles, the impact of wealth inequality and low interest rates on the poor and elderly, and even the overreach of government are all valid concerns.
The Unfunded Liabilities theory, on the other hand, carries the stench of End Times biblical prophecy and anti-government libertarian anarchy. Close the gates, shoot the poorz, man the battle stations!
We must shut off ALL spending!
To do what? No one is actually serious about cutting spending.
In fact, it's almost as if the unfunded liabilities gang wants to speed up the process of collapse because it fits their agenda of a dire spiral into world-wide chaos and rise of evil governments, which are to be defeated by a biblical savior.
There is a desire on the part of some to see financial collapse as it justifies their world view, political aims, and religious beliefs which dwarfs the occasional leftist grumble about hopes for a recession by several orders of magnitude.
It is pure apocalyptic paranoia.
A currency-issuing nation cannot have insolvency unless its significant debt is in another currency. See Argentina for examples.
There is no collapse of the US Dollar unless idiots in DC commit the monumental error of deliberately defaulting on our debt obligations.
Unfunded liabilities are simply an accounting entry that tries to forecast what our future monetary obligations are in certain categories - TRANSLATION: social security, healthcare, infrastructure, education.
Does the military get slammed with 20, 40 or 75 year unfunded liabilities? What about Congress? Nope, only the US Post Office so far! They're stuck paying for benefits 75 years into the future, for postal employees who aren't even BORN YET.
And I will make a wager here: Not ONE PENNY of the USPS 5 billion dollar annual ransom being paid will EVER get spent on benefits for future US Post Office employees. That money is in a lockbox alright, but that lockbox WILL BE PICKED and broken open, and the money will be spent TODAY, in this generation, just like the Social Security Trust Fund was raided before.
And that is one reason I think unfunded liabilities are BS.
No amount of money we put into a lockbox will EVER go to paying down debt. It will be raided, and in future it will most likely be raided by the private sector if Trump gets his way.
Consider the folly of taking a trillion dollars that could be being productive today and literally locking it up.
Does that help those in the future?
All it does is increase the likelihood of unemployment today due to a poor economy, if we assume that money could otherwise have been used to buy goods and services.
Money changes hands between the living. Money today is used for people today. Money in the future will go to people in the future. No tax today can be saved up by the government and spent 20, 40 or 75 years from now.
Nobody 75 years from now will give a damn what it was locked up for, and that money will be raided.
The REAL "unfunded liability" for this and all generations is the capital development of our nation. Our real "un-produced" liability is the real goods and services necessary to meet the real needs of our people.
State-of-the-art public infrastructure, roads, transportation systems, hospitals, schools, training facilities, research laboratories, continual improvement of our agriculture, food production, and the quality and nutritional value of our nation's food supply, investments in cleaner and sustainable energy sources that lower energy costs for business and consumers.
The nation will need doctors, technicians, engineers, tradesmen, researchers, there is a screaming need for a highly skilled and capable workforce, but screeching about unfunded liabilities is an excuse to skip out on investing in that, and kicking the can down the road.
There is no such thing as an unfunded liability for a currency-issuing nation.
But this toxic myth is keeping us from investing in the very things our nation needs to have a robust economy today and a prosperous future that provides for the needs of our people.
Again, no matter how many trillions you put in that lockbox, I will bet you a cool trillion that NOT ONE DIME of it will ever be used to pay down those liabilities.