Fair enough. This analogy seems incomplete, though. We should take it further. If the typical family — let's call them the Smiths — really did spend like the federal government, a few other things would also be true:
-- The Smiths would spend 20 percent of their budget, or $12,800 each year, on an arsenal of guns, tanks and drones to defend their house against threats or to invade the occasional neighbor over lawn-pesticide disputes and access to the gas station.
-- The Smiths would spend another third of their income financing retirement and health care for Grandma and Grandpa. Part of that would have been prepaid by money that Grandma and Grandpa socked away while they were working, but some of it would be paid for by the parents and kids who are chipping in.
-- Actually, come to think of it, the Smiths spend nearly half their money — 43 percent — operating a massive insurance conglomerate whose main beneficiaries are family members.
-- Over the past few years, the Smiths have been able to borrow a vast amount of cash at negative interest rates. Banks have essentially been paying the family to hold their money. That's partly because everyone assumes the Smiths are more or less immortal and will always be good for it. They're the wealthiest, most dependable family in a neighborhood full of upstarts and imploding Greek restaurants. Plus they have all those tanks.
-- Of the $312,000 that the Smith parents have borrowed so far, about 47 percent of that is owed to outsiders, including the Chens down the street. But much of the rest they borrow from their kids with a promise to repay.
Anyway, it's a good analogy. The U.S. federal government really does resemble your typical money-printing family that owns lots of tanks, operates a giant insurance conglomerate, can borrow money at extremely low rates, and is assumed to be immortal.