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You might think it’s pointless to look for something redeeming in the tiger-wire of debt crises circling the world. But it might at least teach us to start asking the right questions. Who is indebted to whom?—whoever the creditors are, they seem willing to keep right on lending. And: Why do debtors keep borrowing?—that should be easy to work out, since we, as represented by our governments, are those debtors. Answers? Well, debtors keep borrowing because, in a thoroughly democratized political system, there’s nobody to stop them/us. Candidates promise a world of balanced budgets, but as incumbents they can only keep power if they pay for bread and circuses, then call it freedom. And who is indebted? Well, “the poor” to “the rich,” right? But not really. In an important sense, the creditors are indebted to the debtors for their very existence, just like the Lakers are indebted to the Clippers (not even the Lakers can play against themselves). So it turns out that the solution to the problems of democracy is neither “more democracy,” nor “the customer’s always right.”

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