February 15, 2011


Jefferson, on debt

“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat in our drink, in our necessities and comforts, in our labors and in our amusements, for our callings and our creeds…our people.. must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live.. We have not time to think, no means of calling the mis-managers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow suffers. Our landholders, too…retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must…be contented with penury, obscurity and exile.. private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance.

This is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering…

And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt
And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.”

Posted by: Douglas Oosting at 03:50 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Posted to category: Quotes

1 ...and to forestall the first comment some smart-arse will leave, yes, that applies to "compassionate conservatives" as well.  President G.W.Bush set the precedent, and President Obama is running away with it in grand fashion, this reckless, destructive spending well beyond our means.  This isn't a party-line issue, it's a common-sense issue; stop writing checks we can't back up. 

If I tried to pay my mortgage this way, I'd be looking for a new place to live.

Posted by: Douglas Oosting at February 15, 2011 04:01 PM (sdWdc)

2 I kinda feel like the first change needing to be made is to figure out a way to stop people in government, of all branches, from so easily being able to shift the blame for their own bad actions onto others. We have such crazy debt because we have a system that is built for abuse without consequence. Sure people get caught every so often, but what do you imagine is the realistic percentage of people who face justice for their abuses? I still think that government should be revamped with an eye towards holding corruption in check, instead of an assumption that elected officials are beyond reproach and the surprise and shock when we discover otherwise. You're damn skippy you'd be looking for a new house if you conducted your affairs the way the government does, if you hadn't already found a nice, cozy cell. That is bad policy, and bad intention. And you're also right that the issue is systemic, not ideological or even political.

Posted by: Kevin Pettway at February 16, 2011 07:51 AM (80DX0)

3 The only reason that you can't run your finances the way the government does is that you don't have the same options. What private individuals might refer to as things such as "armed robbery" and "counterfeiting" are referred to by the government as "taxation" and "monetary policy". But I think the major focus needs to be on constructing government systems such that the most rewarding path for our representatives is the best path for the country as a whole. I think the real horror we face is the specter of cooperation (though conspiracy or collusion are similar terms that should probably be used as replacements whenever a politician uses "cooperation" or "bipartisanship"). Any time a representative makes an agreement (explicit or otherwise) of the general form of "I'll let you hurt my constituents just a little bit in order to help yours a lot, if in exchange you hurt your constituents a little bit to help mine a lot" we need to make sure we understand that everyone is getting hurt. The purpose of my congressional representatives *should* be to protect me from the predation of the other 532 congresspeople. Preying upon those other 532 *shouldn't* exist, but when it does, it should be secondary to the primary goal, and more importantly should fail spectacularly when attempted.

Posted by: lazlo at February 16, 2011 01:56 PM (rcSfN)

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