“why don’t we just give ’em bread?”

About two years ago, I taught Government & Economics to a special group of students.  Intelligent, unique, and highly motivated…most of the time.  One day I pulled up the US Debt Clock, which tracks the money our government owes to other countries in real time.  My class was astonished, and without my prompting they began trying to devise a solution to this astronomical problem. 

Today I came across this article, which reminded me of one of my own student’s solutions to the US debt crisis.  It went something like this:

“We owe most of our money to China, right?  China has too many people, and they need food.  So why don’t we make a deal with them and just trade them bread to pay back the money we owe?”

I tried to answer him, but I couldn’t decide if it was the most illogical thing I had ever heard, or the smartest idea ever.