Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Macro Debt -- The Great External Conflict

Wow, the topic of debt is a button for me.  Macro debt, that is. The debt shouldered by an individual is a personal issue and, frankly, none of my damn business... right up to the point where macro debt is pushed down to (and inflicted upon) the individual.

Grengrish please?


Loosely translated, the debt of a nation (macro debt) becomes an individual's burden through taxes. Taxes are a necessary evil to sustain a society.  However, the mismanagement of a national budget results in gross abuse of the tax burden. I could go on an absolute tear about governments taxing the same dollar six to eight times, both for corporations and individuals (the US is particularly bad about it). But, because this blog isn't about my political bents, I'll spare you my campaign for annihilating the current US state and federal tax systems in favor of a flat consumer tax.

This blog is about writing, and macro debt is magnificent source of conflict if you write books about protagonists who control or influence nations. 

  • Protagonist wants to go to war? Awesome. How is she paying for it? Taxes.
  • Protagonist wants to defend kingdom from magic incursion? Whee! Dragons don't work for free.
  • Protagonist wants to fight famine? Plague? Pestilance? Mother-in-Law? He's paying for the countermeasures through... say it with me ... taxes.

What about the non-violent things? The stuff of unicorn farts and puppy kisses? Rebuilding the nation? Educating the youth? Sheltering widows and orphans? Finding the cure to zombie apocalypse? All that requires MONEY! ~sends out the tax man~

Don't worry, the protagonist isn't the only one fucked by debt. You can totally screw over the antagonist too by messing up his/her flow of money. Remember, we're talking macro debt, so it's all about disrupting the collection of taxes and/or orchestrating the heist of national treasury. These approaches have a high risk for the protag because he/she can become an antagonist in the eyes of the people if she/he disrupts services. (Hiya, Robin Hood, lookin' at you).

If you want to see how macro debt can cripple a nation, take a gander at feudal-era history...
...or, ya know, read current events.


  1. Nice way to corral a huge subject and bring it back to the writing!