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Calvin Coolidge

“We are often told that we are a rich country, and we are. We are often reminded that we are in the best financial condition of any of the great powers, and we are. But we must remember that we also have a broader scale of existence and a higher standard of living. We have a freer Government and a more flexible organization of society. Where more is given, more is required…

Our own Constitution requires that revenue bills should originate in the House, because that body is supposed to be more representative of the people. These precautions have been taken because of the full realization that any oppression laid upon the people by excessive taxation, any disregard of their right to hold and enjoy the property which they have rightfully acquired, would be fatal to freedom. A government which lays taxes on the people not required by urgent public necessity and sound public policy is not a protector of liberty, but an instrument of tyranny. It condemns the citizen to servitude.”


From President Calvin Coolidge’s speech “An Economy in the Interest of All”, given on June 30, 1924, just five years before the onset of the Great Depression. Find it in Amity Shlaes’s excellent biography of Coolidge.

Read about another moment in American history where budget negotiations took an urgent tone:

Thomas Jefferson engraving after painting by Rembrandt Peale.

How Jefferson Fostered Compromise on the National Debt

For left-wingers, check out a post which I wrote about how the imperial project threatens our financial standing.

Mideast Iraq One Year On

The Engines of America’s Endless Wars

And for the libertarians/conservatives out there, read one of the best modern formulations of the philosophy that taxation equals tyranny:

Robert Nozick

Robert Nozick on Taxation