… if injustice by ourselves or others must sometimes produce war, increased as the same revenue will be by increased population & consumption, & aided by other resources reserved for that crisis, it may meet within the year all the expences of the year, without encroaching on the rights of future generations by burthening them with the debts of the past. War will then be but a suspension of useful works; & a return to a state of peace a return to the progress of improvement.
Thomas Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders know great conflicts are just around the corner.
Thomas Jefferson outlined in the previous post how peacetime taxes should be spent. In this continuation, he deals with wartime spending.
First, spending on “useful [domestic] works” must be suspended. An increasing population with increasing consumer demands should boost federal revenues. Added to those funds would be money previously set aside to be used only in a time of war. Those two sources should allow war to be conducted on a pay-as-you-go basis. Regardless, war was not to be funded with debt that would burden future generations.
When peace returned, government could once again resume spending on “useful works,” i.e. domestic improvements.