OK kids get a cup of coffee and study this thing:
I spent a decent amount of time making sure the above works. I confess I didn’t actually fill in the whole table; I just did the beginning, then skipped to the end and worked backwards. But I’m pretty sure I could fill in the middle part with appropriate taxation of everybody, to get it to all work out and be internally consistent.
Assuming I don’t have any mistakes in the above, are any of you going to tell me with a straight face that Krugman’s readers understood that the above outcome is possible, when he kept telling them (paraphrasing), “The present generation can’t impose burdens on future generations by running deficits today. Sure, they can cause redistribution within a given future generation among people who are living simultaneously. But that’s not at all what people mean when they say that today we can make future generations poorer collectively, the way debt can make a family poorer in the future.”
UPDATE: OK I definitely made at least one mistake in my original version of this; there are only 65 descendants who get hurt by this scheme. This makes sense, because the government debt was original 65 apples, and it is paid down one apple per year.
However, I’m having trouble reconciling that with the brute physical fact that Al and Bob clearly eat 99 more physical apples lifetime than they otherwise would. Since the total number of apples isn’t changed, and since we have each new descendant (up to and including Daniel Kuehn) eating one fewer physical apple lifetime, shouldn’t that imply there are 99 such descendants getting dinged?
I have already spent way too much time on this today. If you guys can help me see what bonehead mistake I’m making, that would be great…