Our Most Important Virtue

I came across this quote today by the third President of the United States.. it seems to speak to the current state of affairs in our country and in the world:
“I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.” -Thomas Jefferson
Thought I might comment on the points made in the quote:
  • Economic Virtue: So often we forget that how we use money is indicative of the condition of our national heart.. where our national treasure lies says much about the heart of our nation.
  • Perpetual Debt: This phrase sends shivers down my spine. I cannot fathom living my life in such a way that my children would be burdened with my debt when I die.
  • Taxing the Essentials: Jefferson certainly did not envision a nation that taxed meat and drink much less comforts and amusements. Somehow our government has gotten so big it needs to tax our necessities.
  • Wasting our Labor: This phrase is so graphic. It paints a picture of how the hard labor and sacrifice of citizens is squandered by career politicians who have lost their way and consequentially caused our nation to lose it's way.
  • Pretense of Caring: This one just breaks my heart. President Jefferson seemed to have an insight into the nature of the political machine and of uncaring and power hungry career politicians.
Writing this post has saddened me.. it is so easy to lose heart when you read some of these phrases. I guess I am just wondering where we are heading. I don't think that the founders of our country ever envisioned the behemoth that we now call our government. I guess it just strengthens my resolve to stand against career politicians of all stripes and parties.. we need a grass roots movement to take our government back.


  1. big fan of TJ

    The instition of government is so out of control... you mention career politicians and i think that's part of it... even in local towns and states, you see kingdom building and self-preservation as the primary drivers -- not prudence, practicality, or as you say, economy.

    a friend of mine works at a board of ed -- and the boss comes around in december telling everyone they need to go to two conferences that month because there's money left in the budget and if unspent, they won't get it next year.

    this is impervious -- and has nothing to do with political party or affiliation.

  2. ... there's nothing left to say.

  3. Great post, and I think the quote from Jefferson is very appropriate to today's debate (I can't even use the word dialogue, because that implies civility) in Washington. I've recently been reading some of the letters of Abraham Lincoln, and he echoed some of the same points, particularly in the area of the government only doing that which can be paid for (i.e. if the money isn't in the treasury to build a new highway, don't build the new highway).

    You mention the debt for future generations; I heard earlier this week that the budget just passed by Congress assumes that the annual deficit will be $500 billion per year - in perpetuity! That's an obscene amount of money, made all the worse by commentators now daring to use the word "quadrillion" when describing the debt.

  4. That Jefferson had a great head on his shoulders. It all changed with the passing of the income tax. That is the day we opened our pocket books and lives to the kind of things Jefferson talked about.

  5. Ditto what you said about the income tax Scott.. probably one of the worst enabling things that our government has done.


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