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Jefferson’s Inaugural Address

When Jefferson was reelected for a second term of presidency, he said, In a time of war, if injustice by ourselves or others must sometimes produce war, increased as the same revenue will be by increased population and consumption, and aided by other resources reserved for that crisis, it may meet within the year all the expenses of the year without encroaching on the rights of future generations by burdening them with the debts of the past.”

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Jefferson’s words on military spending are included on the first page of Yale’s transcript of his 1805 inaugural address. This quotation intrigues me, considering the current debate on military spending and its burden on future generations. It is interesting to see that the views of one of our Founding Fathers align with current leftist criticism of government budget allocation. Brown University estimates that the cost of the 20-year War on Terror has amounted to eight trillion dollars (2021). In his inaugural address, Jefferson insists that war expenses should be met within the same year by raising taxes so as not to burden future generations with debt.

The U.S. government did the exact opposite – it raised these eight trillion dollars for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq by borrowing money, increasing the national debt by two trillion, and shifting the financial burden of war to future generations (Peltier, 2020). The ballooning of national debt directly leads to inflation, slowing income, depreciation of house values, and less availability of funds for social support programs such as education and healthcare since trillions will be spent on interest rates. This quotation is interesting because in my opinion, the people who fervently support the War on Terror are usually the ones who often quote the Constitution and idolize our Founding Fathers, yet here is Jefferson speaking out against funding war through loans.

References

Brown University. (2021). Costs of the 20-year war on terror: $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths. Web.

Peltier, H. (2020). The cost of debt-financed War: Public debt and rising interest for post-9/11 spending. Brown University. Web.

Jefferson, T. (1806). Second inaugural address. Yale Law School. Web.

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