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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser


Wealth of Nations

Adam Smith


In Wealth of Nations (1776), Smith talked about Britain's debt. Britain had been going to war partly on credit, and Smith said that although it may be intended to pay back war debt in times of peace, through history, no significant debt had been paid down in that way. Nations typically had to devalue their currency or default in some way. Across the pond, one of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, worried the same might happen in America if the government were permitted to take on public debt.

Now, it does seem that Britain made progress on their debt in the next 100 years, and following WWII, so perhaps over long periods debt retirement is possible. Perhaps good news for the burdensome colonial project of the mother country, which appears to not have taken Jefferson's advice.