‘Governments should spend no more than their tax income.’ Most people in Europe and North America accept this statement as simple common sense. It resonates with the deeply engrained economic metaphors that dominate public discourse, from ‘living within your means’ to ‘balancing the budget’ – all necessary, or so conventional wisdom holds, to avoid the dangers of debt, taxation and financial ruin.
This book shows how these homely metaphors constitute the ‘debt delusion’: a set of plausible-sounding yet false ideas that have been used to justify damaging austerity policies. John Weeks debunks these myths, explaining the true story behind public spending, taxation, and debt, and their real function in the management of our economies. He demonstrates that disputes about public finances are not primarily technical matters best left to specialists and experts, as many politicians would have us believe, but rather fundamentally questions about our true political priorities.
Requiring no prior economic knowledge, this is an ideal primer for anyone wishing to cut through the rhetoric and misinformation that dominate political debates on economics and become an informed citizen.
Keywords: Debt; debt delusion; government spending; public spending; national debt; balanced budget; balance sheet; tax income; taxation; austerity; economy; economics; public finances; political economy, Public Economics, Political & Economic Philosophy, Public Economics, Political & Economic Philosophy