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Fix the Deficit – Sell Alaska and Puerto Rico

Everyone is making such a big deal about the Federal deficit. I don’t know why because I think it’s such an easy problem to fix.

In the old days, when the US was flush with cash, we used to buy territory, such as the Louisiana Purchase. I say we just gotta put the system into reverse. While a nation is getting strong, you purchase territory. When it’s in decline, you sell it. What’s wrong with that? Companies divest stuff every day. Don’t we want to be more efficient in government anyway?

The two obvious candidates are Puerto Rico and Alaska. Puerto Rico is swimming in debt and can’t pay its pensions so by selling it we are merely getting rid of excess baggage. Alaska has more polar bears than people and fortunately they (the polar bears) can’t vote. Any place that views an Iditarod as fun needs its head read right? In any case, we can’t ship their oil to the mainland due to environmental concerns, so we don’t lose that either. .

Cuba would no doubt dearly love to buy Puerto Rico. Then it could finally become a more developed kleptocracy, just like its main allies, Russia and Venezuela. Although Cuba can’t pay using real money it could pay us in sugar which we could convert to ethanol for use in cars so we can avoid having to go electric, which everyone (except Elon Musk) knows actually create more carbon emissions than they eliminate. Or Cuba can pay us in doctors like they do Venezuela, which, at a stroke, would solve our shortage of doctors and fix Obamacare.

Speaking of Venezuela, I think it would be a motivated buyer too; it could pay us in oil which, since we have our own now, we could sell to Iran in return for enriched uranium and thus, in yet another diplomatic master-stroke, solve the Iranian nuclear weapons crisis. Nice touch, eh?

I have really high hopes for the cash we could raise from selling Alaska. I think the Russians would love to get their (bear) paws on it; after all, wasn’t Alaska’s erstwhile Governor Sarah Palin the one who said you could see Russia from Alaska?

If not Russia, then maybe China so it can get a new and vast expanse of virgin land it can pollute all over again using the deep expertise in same it has developed over the past 20 years through its impressive hyper-growth. By purchasing Alaska, China would immediately reduce its average carbon emissions, which it really, really, needs to, so that its citizens can breathe real air instead of aerosolized coal. Who said the Chinese aren’t innovative anyhow?

I guess we need to figure out how much we could get for these far-flung lands. Given what we paid for Louisiana, and figuring in interest, I calculate that Puerto Rico is worth at least a few trillion dollars and Alaska, many times more just based on size alone, let alone its oil and gas reserves. Maybe we have to add an extra premium on for that.

So let’s say around $20-40 trillion, just to keep the math simple. That would certainly pay for the pension benefits of those of my generation and, in addition, those of my kids. After that we don’t have to worry, they’re on their own, sport. If the generations after that need more money to solve their deficit, which, if they have the same system of government as we do now, they most certainly will, then they could just sell a couple more states or territories. Easy, right?

I don’t think Guam would be worth enough to pay for the next generation after ours and our kids, but how about Hawaii? The Japanese would certainly go for that; a port in a storm for any future nuclear disasters maybe? If they wanted a sweetener, we could always throw in Australia; there’s not enough Aussies to make a real fuss and in any case they could all emigrate to the US although I concede that language differences between us and them could get in the way.

There is, of course, the irritating technical issue of the currency we would get paid in. It can’t be dollars because they are worthless. It wouldn’t be too smart to accept them from the countries we suckered into using them. We all know that gold is dead. But, don’t fret, there is a solution to hand, namely bitcoins. All we have to do is to get the NSA to hack into the bitcoin money generator – child’s play to it – and hey presto, the problem is solved.

You see, it’s simple! We just keep on selling US States and territories. When there’s no more left, we can sell the lands of our allies, who don’t have the military muscle to resist our mercantilist designs. This could keep us going for many generations. Who said we need to be fiscally prudent? All you need is simple financial engineering, as invented by the good old quants in Wall Street.

What I am trying to say is that we haven’t been imaginative enough in trying to figure out how to solve the problem of the deficit. The solutions have been far too narrow and traditional, involving reliance on outdated actuarial approaches by old-time accountants who insist – can you imagine it? – that when you borrow money, you have to pay it back, in full, with interest!

Why use money at all when we can use hard assets that exist right under our Nikes? Who needs think-tanks, policy wonks, Harvard MBAs and the Fed’s quantitative easing when we have real estate in profusion worth way more than the soon-to-be-worthless dollar?

I mean, let’s get creative here! How about selling Mars to India? Think of the extra living room! Once their Mars spaceship fails they’ll be so grateful to us! In fact there’s the whole of outer space out there just beckoning to be sold to whomsoever has the folding stuff.

Let’s get that forgotten spirit of American ingenuity going again! We can all work together to fix the deficit! Yay!

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Monday, 06 July 2020

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