"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 debt, 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 calling and our creeds...[we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers... And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for [another ]... till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery... And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Crisis and Leviathan
In 1987, when Little George and his band of thugs were only an ugly speck on the horizon, Robert Higgs wound up his great book Crisis and Leviathan by writing, in part:
". . . Assuming that our luck holds and our society survives, we do know something -- at least abstractly -- about the future. We know that other great crises will come. Whether they will be occasioned by foreign wars, economic collapse, or rampant terrorism, no one can predict with assurance. Yet in one form or another, great crises will surely come again . . . . When they do, governments almost certainly will gain new powers over economic and social affairs. Everything that I have argued and documented in the preceding chapters points toward this conclusion. For those who cherish individual liberty and a free society, the prospect is deeply disheartening.
"Can such an outcome be avoided? I think not, but I hope I am wrong." (p. 262)
Higgs was, of course, right. I suppose the pain of being a libertarian prophet in our time is assuaged somewhat by the proof that one's analysis is sound.
Robert Higgs, CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN: CRITICAL EPISODES IN THE GROWTH OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987)