Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on April 19, 2022

in Budget Issues, Debt and Deficits, History, Reality Is Not Optional

… is from page 643 of Will Durant’s 1944 volume, Caesar and Christ; in this part of the book, Durant writes about Rome during the late 3rd and early 4th centuries C.E.:

The bureaucrats found their task too great for human integrity, their surveillance too sporadic for the evasive ingenuity of men. To support the bureaucracy, the court, the army, the building program, and the dole, taxation rose to unprecedented peaks of ubiquitous continuity. As the state had not yet discovered the plan of public borrowing to conceal its wastefulness and postpone its reckoning, the cost of each year’s operations had to be met from each year’s revenue.

DBx: The same economic laws that operated in ancient Rome operate in modern America, in modern Europe, in any time and place where there is human society. Humans today are no less venal in spirit and limited in intelligence than were humans when Rome was in its so-called glory and in its decline. Reality is no more optional for us than it was for ancient Romans.

And as would have been true had the ancient-Roman state “discovered the plan of public borrowing to conceal its wastefulness and postpone its reckoning,” so it is actually true today that public borrowing conceals the modern-state’s wastefulness – and, thus, encourages further such wastefulness – and postpones its reckoning as it worsens its consequences.

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