Monday, 14 January 2013

G Dub/AH on public credit

Washington's Farewell Address, 1796 (drafted by Alexander Hamilton):



As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public
credit
. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as
possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but
remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger
frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding
likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of
expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the
debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned
, not ungenerously
throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The
execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is
necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them
the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should
practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be
revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be
devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant
; that
the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the
proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a
decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the
government in making it
, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the
measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any
time dictate.



[Emphases mine.]



NB: I published an extended discussion of this graf on Bloomberg here.

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