Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thomas Jefferson's Message To Bush & Obama

Thomas Jefferson eloquently spoke about the dangers that occur when a government amasses excessive debt through reckless spending. If Bush, Obama and the majority of the senate had heeded Jefferson's advice, our nation would in much better economic, social and political shape.

In the following verses Jefferson wrote about the evil of burdening future generations with debt:

"I sincerely believe... that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale."

--Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. ME 15:23

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."

--Thomas Jefferson to A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, 1820. FE 10:175

"We believe--or we act as if we believed--that although an individual father cannot alienate the labor of his son, the aggregate body of fathers may alienate the labor of all their sons, of their posterity, in the aggregate, and oblige them to pay for all the enterprises, just or unjust, profitable or ruinous, into which our vices, our passions or our personal interests may lead us. But I trust that this proposition needs only to be looked at by an American to be seen in its true point of view, and that we shall all consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves; and consequently within what may be deemed the period of a generation, or the life of the majority."

--Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813. ME 13:357

In the following verses Jefferson wrote about the economic, political and moral ruin brought on when government spending burdens the nation with excessive debt:

"To preserve [the] independence [of the people,] we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the 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, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes, have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers."

--Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:39

Jefferson repeatedly warned how engaging in needless warfare was the surest way to mire a nation in heavy debt and taxation. And in the face of crushing public debt the need to cut the size of the military was a painful, but inescapable necessity:
"Our distance from the wars of Europe, and our disposition to take no part in them, will, we hope, enable us to keep clear of the debts which they occasion to other powers."

--Thomas Jefferson to C. W. F. Dumas, 1790. ME 8:47

"There [is a measure] which if not taken we are undone...[It is] to cease borrowing money and to pay off the national debt. If this cannot be done without dismissing the army and putting the ships out of commission, haul them up high and dry and reduce the army to the lowest point at which it was ever established. There does not exist an engine so corruptive of the government and so demoralizing of the nation as a public debt. It will bring on us more ruin at home than all the enemies from abroad against whom this army and navy are to protect us."

--Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon, 1821. (*) FE 10:193

No earthly consideration could induce my consent to contract such a debt as England has by her wars for commerce, to reduce our citizens by taxes to such wretchedness, as that laboring sixteen of the twenty-four hours, they are still unable to afford themselves bread, or barely to earn as much oatmeal or potatoes as will keep soul and body together. And all this to feed the avidity of a few millionary merchants and to keep up one thousand ships of war for the protection of their commercial speculations."

--Thomas Jefferson to William H. Crawford, 1816. ME 15:29

Jefferson spoke about the wisdom of levying taxes at the same instant of borrowing moeny as a warning to the citizenry about the costs and hazards of borrowing money. Such a tax would surely dampen the zeal of those who demand more government services:

"It is a wise rule and should be fundamental in a government disposed to cherish its credit and at the same time to restrain the use of it within the limits of its faculties, "never to borrow a dollar without laying a tax in the same instant for paying the interest annually and the principal within a given term; and to consider that tax as pledged to the creditors on the public faith." On such a pledge as this, sacredly observed, a government may always command, on a reasonable interest, all the lendable money of their citizens, while the necessity of an equivalent tax is a salutary warning to them and their constituents against oppressions, bankruptcy, and its inevitable consequence, revolution."

--Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813. ME 13:269

"Our government has not as yet begun to act on the rule of loans and taxation going hand in hand. Had any loan taken place in my time, I should have strongly urged a redeeming tax."

--Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813. ME 13:273

Jefferson even spoke of the importance of maintaining good credit:

"I told... President [Washington] all that was ever necessary to establish our credit was an efficient government and an honest one, declaring it would sacredly pay our debts, laying taxes for this purpose and applying them to it."

--Thomas Jefferson: The Anas, 1792. ME 1:319

"I deem [this one of] the essential principles of our government and consequently [one] which ought to shape its administration:... The honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith. " --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801. ME 3:322

"I once thought that in the event of a war we should be obliged to suspend paying the interest of the public debt. But a dozen years more of experience and observation on our people and government have satisfied me it will never be done. The sense of the necessity of public credit is so universal and so deeply rooted that no other necessity will prevail against it."

--Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 1814. ME 14:217

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