What about public debt? Rothbard provides the answer:If sanctity of contracts should rule in the world of private debt, shouldn’t they be equally as sacrosanct in public debt? Shouldn’t public debt be governed by the same principles as private? The answer is no, even though such an answer may shock the sensibilities of most people.[W]hen government borrows money, it does not pledge its own money; its own resources are not liable. Government commits not its own life, fortune, and sacred honor to repay the debt, but ours. This is a horse, and a transaction, of a very different color.
Rothbard’s recommendation: “I propose, then, a seemingly drastic but actually far less destructive way of paying off the public debt at a single blow: outright debt repudiation.” Repudiation is not only a sound economic solution to our fiscal crisis, but it is also the morally correct solution. Rothbard’s more detailed proposal, which was a “combination of repudiation and privatization,” should be considered a blueprint for an effective debt-reduction plan. As Rothbard argued, such a plan “would go a long way to reducing the tax burden, establishing fiscal soundness, and desocializing the United States.” As an added bonus, default would be as effective, if not more effective, than a balanced budget amendment, in reducing the likelihood of a future reoccurrence of the problem.
But “[i]n order to go this route, however, we first have to rid ourselves of the fallacious mindset that conflates public and private, and that treats government debt as if it were a productive contract between two legitimate property owners.”