Eat, drink and be merry … and leave the tab for your grandchildren to pay

The U.S. government’s unfunded liabilities have passed $1.1 million per taxpayer — and the Debt Clock keep whirling.

On Sept. 6, 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison from Paris, where he was the U.S. ambassador. In the letter he outlined his thoughts and experiences on what we now know as generational grand theft:


“The question Whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government. The course of reflection in which we are immersed here on the elementary principles of society has presented this question to my mind; and that no such obligation can be so transmitted I think very capable of proof.–I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident, ‘that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living’: that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. The portion occupied by an individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society. If the society has formed no rules for the appropriation of it’s lands in severality, it will be taken by the first occupants. These will generally be the wife and children of the decedent. If they have formed rules of appropriation, those rules may give it to the wife and children, or to some one of them, or to the legatee of the deceased. So they may give it to his creditor. But the child, the legatee, or creditor takes it, not by any natural right, but by a law of the society of which they are members, and to which they are subject. Then no man can, by natural right, oblige the lands he occupied, or the persons who succeed him in that occupation, to the paiment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might, during his own life, eat up the usufruct of the lands for several generations to come, and then the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living, which would be the reverse of our principle. …”

Jefferson then uses France and its debts as an example:

“To render this conclusion palpable by example, suppose that Louis XIV. and XV. had contracted debts in the name of the French nation to the amount of 10,000 milliards of livres, and that the whole had been contracted in Genoa. The interest of this sum would be 500. milliards, which is said to be the whole rent roll or nett proceeds of the territory of France. Must the present generation of men have retired from the territory in which nature produced them, and ceded it to the Genoese creditors? No. They have the same rights over the soil on which they were produced, as the preceding generations had. They derive these rights not from their predecessors, but from nature. They then and their soil are by nature clear of the debts of their predecessors.

“Again suppose Louis XV. and his cotemporary generation had said to the money-lenders of Genoa, give us money that we may eat, drink, and be merry in our day; and on condition you will demand no interest till the end of 19. years you shall then for ever after receive an annual interest of 125/8 per cent. The money is lent on these conditions, is divided among the living, eaten, drank, and squandered. Would the present generation be obliged to apply the produce of the earth and of their labour to replace their dissipations? Not at all. …”

Jefferson seemed to be predicting our current financial debacle: and suggested a solution:

“At first blush it may be rallied, as a theoretical speculation: but examination will prove it to be solid and salutary. It would furnish matter for a fine preamble to our first law for appropriating the public revenue; and it will exclude at the threshold of our new government the contagious and ruinous errors of this quarter of the globe, which have armed despots with means, not sanctioned by nature, for binding in chains their fellow men. We have already given in example one effectual check to the Dog of war by transferring the power of letting him loose from the Executive to the Legislative body, from those who are to spend to those who are to pay. I should be pleased to see this second obstacle held out by us also in the first instance. No nation can make a declaration against the validity of long-contracted debts so disinterestedly as we, since we do not owe a shilling which may not be paid with ease, principal and interest, within the time of our own lives.”

It sounds like Jefferson is suggesting to our children and grandchildren: Go ahead and default. It’s not your debt.

43 comments on “Eat, drink and be merry … and leave the tab for your grandchildren to pay

  1. Nyp says:

    That WSJ poll — wow.

  2. Milty says:

    “That WSJ poll — wow.”

    I heartily concur with the part of that poll where 60% said that they would favor throwing out every member of Congress.

  3. Milty says:

    Some funny things about how the data in this poll is reported. One example is that everyone is reporting about how bad Senator Cruz’ numbers are (14% positive, 28% negative). No one seems to be reporting that Senator Reid’s numbers are just as bad (18% positive, 32% negative).

  4. Nyp says:

    It definitely needs to be unskewed

  5. Milty says:

    I wouldn’t say that the poll is skewed. It seems to be a case of bad news for the Democrats, much worse news for the Republicans.

    One of the questions on the poll was about who was more to blame for the shutdown. The choices given were President Obama or the Congressional Republicans. 53% blamed the Congressional Republicans more, 31% blamed President Obama more. However, that choice seemed limited because Senator Reid and the Senate Democrats weren’t offered as an option in answering the question. During this shutdown, Senator Reid has been the Democrats’ point man, while President Obama has tried to remain aloof from the conflict, so it would seem more natural for many to view the President as not being part of the problem. If the question has been, “Who’s more to blame, the House Republicans or the Senate Democrats?” the poll results may have been different.

    Another issue on the poll that many in the media are emphasizing is how people would vote in the 2014 Congressional elections. Democrats defeated Republicans in a generic election by a 47-39 margin. However the Democrats have beaten the Republicans on this question in almost every NBC/WSJ poll going back to last year’s election. The gap is wider now, but the Democrats have won out on this question in most of the polls going back a year.

    Like I said, pretty bad news for the Republicans, but I wouldn’t call it good news for the Democrats. And Jon Ralston’s comment on Twitter (“Never seen a poll released before that essentially is a death knell for a political party”) may come to pass but right now it seems a bit premature.

  6. nyp says:

    Well, I agree with you that it is not a “death knell.” Or even a death panel.
    I also think that the GOP approval numbers will gradually begin to revert towards the mean. But this debacle certainly accentuates long-term structural problems for the GOP. I know that I’m being a concern troll, but America really needs a Republican Party that is capable of responsible governance. It doesn’t have it right now. You guys are kind of like what the Democrats were in the early 70s when we were under the partial sway of the New Left. It took us decades to recover as a party.

  7. Winston Smith says:

    Jefferson was sort of stating a secular version of the Old Testament’s 50-year Jubilee Cycle, based on his understanding of the concept of natural rights instead of Leviticus. This system was set up to keep the banksters throughout history from gaining the upper hand on the populous, as often happens, especially when politicians that promise the moon are involved.

    Here is Murray Rothbard’s take on the concept:

    Of course, since our national debt is so interconnected with the global financial structure, the fascist/globalist banksters (and their klepto-republicrat toadies) would never allow such a thing. But, like it or not, the USD is facing a rather questionable future, as some oil-producing countries are looking to end the 40 year domination of the petro-dollar, as Kissinger negotiated with OPEC (causing the “oil shortage”, BTW).

    Anyway, Jefferson was right (again!) and understood world history and the foibles of mankind enough to see into the future and realize that there is nothing new in heaven or on earth, or, as later so eloquently stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

    Hey Petey, pop quiz: Was that George Santayana or Carlos Santana?

    War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Bliss

  8. nyp says:

    “the fascist/globalist banksters (and their klepto-republicrat toadies”

    See, Milty, you have to jettison these guys. You really do.

  9. Winston Smith says:

    Oh dear petey, you just can’t handle the truth sometimes, that your heroic leftists are actually just minions of banksters, not the glorious Marxist levelers that you imagine. In fact, Marx himself was just a minion, as were Lenin and Stalin and Mao. Communism was empowered and funded by American and European financiers (fascist/globalist banksters), who were simply setting up the loyal opposition in the Hegelian Dialectic Process. You really need to read the non-controlled version of history, assuming, of course, that you aren’t afraid to.

    War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is BLISS!

  10. Milty says:

    “See, Milty, you have to jettison these guys. You really do.”

    I think there’s been a bit of a misunderstanding, Nyp. I quit the Republican Party in 2003. I still vote Republican in most elections (“the lesser of two evils”), but I leave my ballot empty on some other elections where the saying “the lesser of two evils is still evil” applies.

    For most of my life, I was a Republican, so I guess I still talk/write like one in a lot of ways. Hopefully, when I write like a Republican, it’s the Republicanism of a generation ago.

    The two major parties are coalitions. The Reagan Republican coalition was ecomomic conservatives, national defense hawks, social conservatives and libertarians. Thru the end of the Cold War, I was a combination economic conservative, national defense hawk and libertarian. I disagreed with President Clinton’s ventures in nation building, then was appalled when President Bush43 took those ventures to an even higher level in Iraq. I thought the combination of a Democratic President and a Republican Congress in the mid to late 1990s was good for fiscal restraint, then saw Republican control of the White House and Congress in the early to mid 2000s go completely off the tracks fiscally.

    As Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.” When a Republican governor and a Republican state senate majority colluded in enacting the biggest tax hike in Nevada history in 2003, that was the last straw for me as a Republican.

  11. nyp says:

    Wow – Marx was in bed in the Rothschilds!
    Makes, sense, I suppose.

  12. nyp says:

    You ought to go back. Your party needs you.

    I obviously do not agree with any aspect of Republican ideology, although I concede that the Nixon-Kissinger-Baker realist approach to foreign policy is more fundamentally sound than the Democratic Wilsonian approach. But a centrist Republicanism on domestic policy can moderate my party’s own extreme tendencies. If you guys walk away it doesn’t leave us much we can work with.

    Healthcare is a good example. A hard-headed Republican realizes that healthcare is killing US competitiveness. He tries to come up with an approach that brings the US into the civilized world when it comes to universal coverage, while avoiding command & control government solutions. RomneyCare was an extremely sensible approach that won over guys like me who would be instinctively attracted to single-payor. In an alternative universe the Republicans would have championed a national version of RomneyCare and could have shaped it to their own preferences. Capping malpractice. No medical device tax. Expanded HSAs. You name it. Obama would have all that away in exchange for five Republican votes in the Senate. But the Tea Party wouldn’t let you do it.

    Guys like you need to re-engage, purge your party of the nutjobs, grab back the Latinos, and keep us Democrats from dominating the middle the way we have done in California. The only problem is that it will take a few election cycles, and you have to hope that we Democrats don’t permanently screw up the country too much in the meantime.

  13. Steve says:

    “keep us Democrats from dominating the middle the way we have done in California.”

    Thing is California is one of the main reasons for such entrenchment by conservatives.
    Not to mention California (Like Massachusetts) elects quite a few Republican governors and still the negatives of Democrat fringe elements seem to float to the surface.

    Ben Franklin is proving truer and truer with each passing election cycle.

  14. nyp says:

    California is shut out to conservatives for the forseeable future. All it takes is one more Latino-leaning state to tip (Florida, Texas, Georgia, Virginia?) and the GOP becomes a regional party.

    That is not good for anyone.

  15. Winston Smith says:

    “Wow – Marx was in bed in the Rothschilds!”

    And related to them besides…ya don’t get that in your controlled history books…

    On 22 October 1806 in London he married Hannah Barent-Cohen (1783–1850), daughter of Levy Barent Cohen (1747–1808) and wife Lydia Diamantschleifer and paternal granddaughter of Barent Cohen and wife, whose other son Salomon David Barent-Cohen (d. 1807) married Sara Brandes, great-grandparents of Karl Marx.[1] Their children were:

  16. nyp says:

    See, Milty, what you have to put up with?

  17. Winston Smith says:

    Oh petey, fret you not, Milty won’t become a 9/11 truther, the worst of all possible political flavors…

  18. A lot of those Florida Latinos are Cuban Republicans, though second and third generations are going mushy.


  19. Winston Smith says:

    Or is it the Birthers?

  20. Milty says:

    “Or is it the Birthers?”

    That’s another issue. Since he took office, I would listen to my friends spout off about how President Obama was a closet Muslim and was born in another country and has been using a stolen social security number. And I would tell them, “Look, the way things are going, this guy can be beaten on the issues. But if all you’re going to talk about is his birth certificate and and how he’s a closet Muslim, then all you’re doing is guaranteeing him a second term.”

    And then in 2012, the Republicans had a decent shot at taking over the Senate, but they had candidates talking about how legitemate rape doesn’t result in pregnancy, implying that if the woman got pregnant, she wasn’t really raped and that she actually wanted to have sex with the rapist.

    And I’m opposed to same sex marriage, but I fully recognize that the political tide is going against me on this issue, and I can accept that so long as it’s being done thru the legislative process and not the judicial process. But now we have the Republican governor of Pennsylvania likening same sex marriage to marriage between a brother and sister? Like I said, I’m opposed to same sex marriage, but this guy sure isn’t speaking for me when he says stuff like that.

    I’ve been a believer in small government, low spending, low taxes, balanced budgets, and personal liberty and freedom. Quite frankly, a lot of the people in today’s Republican Party are simply not recognizable to me.

  21. Winston Smith says:

    Milty, quite right about last year’s election, it was winnable for the Republicans, if they had nominated a classical conservative who would continue the Tea Party’s agenda of reducing the size of government, but Romney was not the guy. When The Donald picked up the Birther baton, I knew the fix was in, and any candidate with an outlier belief system would be de-legitimatized by the mainstream media. After all, if you think anything conspiritorial is going on, you must be a right-wing, gun-toting, tin-hat wearing nut-job, right petey?

    It was essentially a replay of 1996 with Mr. Boredom, Bob Dole. The entrenched neo-con RINO leadership of the Republican party didn’t like the 1994 paleo-conservative “Republican Revolution”, so they picked Gingrich to be the Speaker so that he could lead the new House Reps astray and keep them from actually fixing anything. Same thing happened again when the Tea Partiers won in 2010, and were given Boehner as their leader. Both Gingrich and Boehner are neo-con klepto-republicrats (yes, an Official Term created by me to irritate NYP).

    Anyway, here’s a nice quote from Georgetown University’s Carroll Quigley, one of Bill Clinton’s heroes, explaining in his book, “Tragedy and Hope”, why the entrenched Democrats and Republicans both support our Orwellian Warfare/Welfare State:

    “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy.”

    BTW, Rand Paul is planning to grill the Bankster Yellen:

  22. Nyp says:

    If only your Presidential candidates were much more conservative. — yup, that must be it.

  23. If only one of our presidential candidates would be the least bit conservative.

  24. Nyp says:

    Btw, Rand Paul does not actually sit on the Committee before which Janet Yellen will appear.

  25. Wendy Ellis says:

    You guys all seem to know each others’ true identities. This puts me at an extreme disadvantage. Do you hang out together for drinks and cigars, too? It seems that Thomas Mitchell’s name is the only one I know. He is a real person, and I have met him. C’mon guys, take of your masks. Mitch, is it okay if I change my name?

  26. Nyp says:

    I for one would look forward to that hearing. Bit it is not going to happen.

  27. Rincon says:

    “If only one of our presidential candidates would be the least bit conservative”. Romney lost because he was too conservative. Run a Tea Party presidential candidate….please!

  28. Milty says:

    “Milty, quite right about last year’s election, it was winnable for the Republicans, if they had nominated a classical conservative who would continue the Tea Party’s agenda of reducing the size of government, but Romney was not the guy.”

    But what Republican has fit the bill of “reducing the size of government” in recent history? Barry Goldwater said, “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size.” What Republican leader has put these words into action since 1964? The Republicans have controlled the White House for 28 years since 1964. They controlled the White House and both houses of Congress for four years recently (2003-2007), but all they did was grow government and feather their own nests.

    The saying “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” definitely applies to today’s Republican Party. That’s why I told Nyp two weeks ago that he had nothing to worry about regarding the debt ceiling, because the Republicans were going to cave. And that’s exactly what it appears they’re about to do.

  29. Rincon says:

    Sticking to your guns isn’t always the best way. I have a friend whose marriage was getting into difficulty. He was very logical and she wasn’t and it led to long, unresolved arguments. I heard of his frustrations for years. Finally, things got much better rather suddenly. When I asked him about it, he said the change occurred when he came to the realization that the important thing wasn’t who’s right; the important thing was to make it work. I wish the members of Congress were as wise as my friend.

  30. Wendy Ellis says:

    You guys are a closed club.

  31. Sure, Wendy, just don’t go by Julia. That was Winston Smith’s girlfriend in “1984.”


  32. Romney of Massachusetts?


  33. Steve says:

    Wendy, people who post do so under relatively anonymous names as the open internet is not a good place for personal information. I can say with certainty my first name is Steve and I have not personally met any of the posters on this website.
    I also know from the tone of the writings when someone posts it is actually the same person behind the words that always goes by the same screen name. Even when they are using another computer and forget to update the name field in the details box.

    Don’t fall into the silly “real name” argument so many people try to use on forums like this, its a false premise and will get you nowhere fast.

    Take the posts at face value, if you get to meet IRL then things would be different.

  34. Winston Smith says:

    Milty, every Republican President in my lifetime has wooed the classic, small-government conservatives at the base of the party with the correct rhetoric, yet once elected became a big-spending neo-con RINO. Even Reagan, whom I voted twice for, didn’t keep his promises to end the unconstitutional departments of Energy and Education, amongst other questionable decisions.

    Now, either they were never true conservatives, or something abruptly changed once in the W.H. I suspect a combination of both. The Bush family track record, especially, was pretty evident that they were minions of the banksters, starting at least with Prescott Bush, who was nearly arrested for trading with the enemy during WWII as an agent for Brown Brothers Harriman.

    Of course, as has been argued here before, Lincoln was certainly no small-government Constitutionalist, and most Republicans since have been quite sketchy in their adherence to Foundational principles. Nothing compared to Democrats, though, who have rarely met a government program they didn’t like, no matter how expensive, corrupting or tyrannical.

    War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength

  35. Rincon says:

    Democrats occasionally complain about big government programs, i.e., wars, homeland security, and other defense spending, draconian drug laws which fill prisons, agricultural and corporate subsidies, the bank bailout in the last recession and of course, big tax deductions for the rich.

  36. Wendy Ellis says:

    Definitely not Julia. Winston can attest to how that turned out. I will think of another name. I must be naive…being willing to make statements I stand by in real life, eh?

  37. Wendy Ellis says:

    I would really like to meet the people who post here, in person. I hold no animosity towards anyone, I like people and enjoy exchanging ideas. I am interested in the opinions others have, even if I don’t agree with them.

  38. Winston Smith says:

    I suggested a coupla weeks ago a meetup sometime in Rachel to watch for the UFOs. Been awhile since I’ve seen the saucers 🙂

  39. Rincon says:

    I propose Illinois. No UFO’s, but we can watch them harvest corn – and it’s closer for nyp!

  40. Athos says:

    Wendy, the reason I go by an alias IS the anonymity. The cabal of weasels sitting in seats of authority, are the most immoral, degenerate group of power mad psychopaths that I’ve ever seen (and I worked as a “Young people for Nixon” volunteer!) At least Nixon was dignified, and had enough humility to do what’s right for the country, and resign.

    Paranoid? You betcha! These vermin will stop at nothing to attain their fundamental transformation of this country. And as you can see, they are incapable of defending their positions. Just make up stuff, deflect the argument or attack the messenger. Or sic the IRS on them (right, Lois Lerner??)

    But then again, it’s hard to argue against the facts, isn’t it?

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