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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 389 of my colleague Larry White’s splendid 2012 volume, The Clash of Economic Ideas (footnotes excluded):

Adam Smith, by contrast, did not take the path of [government] spending as given.  He particularly worried about constraining government’s propensity to overspend by waging unnecessary and overly lengthy wars.  Borrowing made it easier for government to overcome public resistance to war making, he warned, and therefore promoted wasteful spending that consumed capital and impoverished the nation.  If a government had to finance its war making entirely out of current taxes, the cost would be more sharply felt, and so “wars would in general be more speedily concluded, and less wantonly undertaken.”  David Ricardo echoed the same argument.

For references to the Smith and Ricardo writings mentioned by Larry, see this earlier post.