Chapter 12: The Opinion that no Expense at Home can be hurtful

The absurd notion that national opulence consists in money has another bad effect.

  • It is commonly imagined that whatever people spend in their own country cannot reduce public opulence, if you take care of exports and imports.
  • But when any man wears and tears and spends his stock, without employing himself in any species of industry, the nation is at the end of the year so much the poorer by it.
  • To illustrate this, suppose that my father at his death, instead of 1,000 pounds in cash, leaves me the necessaries and conveniences of life worth 1,000 pounds, which I would have bought if I received cash instead.
  • Another illustration of the public hurt from such practices:
  • This shows the absurdity of the opinion that no home consumption can hurt the country's opulence.
  • Upon this principle:

  • But upon reflection, we will find that it is the same thing to the nation, how or where its stock be spent.
  • But in maintaining an army in a distant war, it is the same thing whether we pay them in goods or money, because the consumption is the same at any rate.
  • From the above considerations:

    On the same absurd principles, an apology is made for the public debt.

  • But the interest of this 100 million is paid by industrious people and given to support idle people employed in gathering it.
  • When there are such heavy taxes to pay, every merchant must carry on less trade.
  • To stop this clamour, Sir Robert Walpole tried to show that the public debt was no inconvenience.

  • Words: 1850
    Next: Section 2, Chapter 13