Public debt

I regret, as much as any member, the unavoidable weight and duration of the burdens to be imposed; having never been a proselyte to the doctrine, that public debts are public benefits. I consider them, on the contrary, as evils which ought to be removed as fast as honor and justice will permit.

Most urgent fiscal consideration

No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: On none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable … Cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible: avoiding occasions of expence [and] avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt … not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear.

Real wealth and virtual wealth

Debts are subject to the laws of mathematics rather than physics. Unlike wealth, which is subject to the laws of thermodynamics, debts do not rot with old age and are not consumed in the process of living. On the contrary, they grow at so much per cent per annum, by the well-known mathematical laws of simple and compound interest … It is this underlying confusion between wealth and debt which has made such a tragedy of the scientific era.