"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

James Wilson on Budgets

There is currently quite a bit of national debate on this year's budget crisis - the government is in danger of shutting down and despite numerous speeches from congressional members it appears there is still not much hope of a resolution any time soon. What are we as citizens to think when these partisan struggles seem to prevent a speedy resolution every term? What can we do to help the political process? For starters - we can take a cue from our Founding Fathers.

It is often difficult to recognize patterns in history when faced with an immediate crisis. It is very easy to assume that the current situation is the first of its kind, but any good historian will tell you that this is simply never, ever true. Thankfully, useful bits knowledge from the past is exactly what the Lost and Founders are here to impart.

Today we examine the life of one James Wilson. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, one of the first six appointed justices of the Supreme Court, and a man well-respected both for his words of wisdom and his remarkable ability to dance to literally anything played on a piano. In 1779, Wilson made the following comment in reference to a discussion on the powers of Congress:

"To prevent government shut down due to the inability to pass a federal budget, will be the noblest end and aim of our newly formed Congress. To punish them by means of incessant bitching and media coverage, is one of the means necessary for the accomplishment of this noble end and aim."

James Wilson, Of the duties of the Congress, 1779

Wilson's words ring as true today as they did in 1779. - it definitely sounds like he is saying that is it our duty as a people to come down hard on Congress to see that this and any future budget issues get resolved in a more timely manner. Although we here at Lost and Founders consider ourselves impartial historians and tend to not claim any particular stance - you really can't argue with history, its already happened.

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