Sunday, February 22, 2009

If only, Mr. Washington.

From George Washington's Farewell Address which was more an open letter to the American people.

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 exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen, which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should cooperate. 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.

Tell me. Did we, the American public, recently incur over $1.5 trillion in the debts to which Mr. Washington refers, and to which we should defer to our representatives to repay? Clearly not as he is referring to taxes for defense and war. The failure of corporations, even huge financial corporations, are not public exigencies. How is ungenerously burdening our posterity with the debt of bolstering failing businesses a proper function of government? How do these recent actions of our government in any way contribute to our strength and security? Where are our representatives who understand this?

It is all of us who must incur the intrinsic embarassment inseparable from allowing, and in some cases encouraging, our once unique (the only one instituted to protect individual rights) and honorable (representatives who understood their roles in safeguarding our rights) government to spend money, our money, our children's money, perhaps our grandchildren's money, improvidently when cloaked in the name of "public good" rather than as circumscribed by our founding fathers in the Constitution.

As an individual who still has convictions in keeping with the founding of the United States of America, I honor President Washington on his birthday.


Beth said...

Well chosen, timely quote from Mr. Washington. Thank you for the reminder of his greatness.

LB said...

Cherish public credit - an interesting idea.