WOW, absolutely magnificent reading in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers this week. Our Founders, old white guys that they were, nonetheless had a keen understanding of the eternal nature of governments, government spending, and the need or desire for a large standing military.
Here is a prescient quote from the Anti-Federalist #8:
The power to borrow money is general and unlimited, and the clause so often before referred to, authorises the passing any laws proper and necessary to carry this into execution. Under this authority, the Congress may mortgage any or all the revenues of the union, as a fund to loan money upon, and it is probably, in this way, they may borrow of foreign nations, a principal sum, the interest of which will be equal to the annual revenues of the country. — By this means, they may create a national debt, so large, as to exceed the ability of the country ever to sink. I can scarcely contemplate a greater calamity that could befall this country, than to be loaded with a debt exceeding their ability ever to discharge.
DANG, who does that sound like? The current Administration and previous Congress loved to denigrate that pesky Constitution, but clearly our Founders knew a little something about the government trough and the dangers of being in debt to Foreign governments.
What's more interesting is the overall knowledge base of our Founders. Even more than politics, literature, and philosophy, they had a pretty darn good understanding of military history and the state of military science at the time. From Federalist Paper #8:
The nations of Europe are encircled with chains of fortified places, which mutually obstruct invasion. Campaigns are wasted in reducing two or three frontier garrisons, to gain admittance into an enemy's country. Similar impediments occur at every step, to exhaust the strength and delay the progress of an invader.......The history of war, in that quarter of the globe, is no longer a history of nations subdued and empires overturned, but of towns taken and retaken; of battles that decide nothing; of retreats more beneficial than victories; of much effort and little acquisition.
And of course, the writer finished off with a pretty good assessment of American Security Strategy for the next 100 years or so:
If we are wise enough to preserve the Union we may for ages enjoy an advantage similar to that of an insulated situation. Europe is at a great distance from us. Her colonies in our vicinity will be likely to continue too much disproportioned in strength to be able to give us any dangerous annoyance. Extensive military establishments cannot, in this position, be necessary to our security. But if we should be disunited, and the integral parts should either remain separated, or, which is most probable, should be thrown together into two or three confederacies, we should be, in a short course of time, in the predicament of the continental powers of Europe --our liberties would be a prey to the means of defending ourselves against the ambition and jealousy of each other.
So, what does this all mean? Should we just come home, build our wall and forget the rest of the world and its problems? Unfortunately, that just isn't possible. BUT what is possible is being able to engage the world in a stronger position, by being less dependent on what goes on in unstable and hostile regions of the world. Let's face it, if Saudi Arabia and Libya didn't have oil or if we were energy independent would we give a rat's ass about what's going on there? No, we would not. If we didn't owe China billions, would we be putting up with their counterfeiting American products and their unfair trade practices? NO
So what would our Founding Fathers think of our current financial and foreign policy dilemmas?
Not much, I suspect........