… is from page 1 of the original printing of James M. Buchanan’s and Richard E. Wagner’s January 1967 monograph, Public Debt in a Democratic Society :
Ordinary common sense suggests, and experience has shown, that the experts can make errors. When these errors seem likely to impose costs on the citizens, the ordinary man is probably wise when he tries to figure out for himself what the talk is all about. Why is the government so different from anything else? If one need not worry about public debt, what does this imply about private debt? Most private debts are also owed to fellow citizens, in one form or another; we also “owe this to ourselves.” Either there must be some mysterious difference between public and private debt or at least some of the experts must be wrong. Too many persons know the consequences of following the private-debt siren to accept unwittingly the fiscal perpetual motion machine that sometimes seems to be offered by public debt.