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John James Cowperthwaite

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The fact that previous generations have handed down to us a substantial public heritage by way of roads, port, etc. almost completely free of debt, seems to me to impose some limitation on the validity of the theory that by borrowing we should, or could, pass on the burden of development to the next generation.
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February 28, 1962, page 55.

 
John James Cowperthwaite

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I am also, I must confess, a little sceptical of the theory that we have a right, if we could, to pass on our capital burden to future generations. I remarked last year in this context that our predecessors had not passed any significant part of their burden on to us.

 
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I say, the earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and incumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on. For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation. Then, no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.

 
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Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didnít pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

 
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I don't have a trace of moral scruple, when it comes to the state I feel completely free. It's committed such terrible crimes against us all, against our generation, that we have a right to anything. I'm not worried about doing it damage, we'll just be recovering some damages for our entire battered generation. Who taught me how to steal, who made me do it, if not the state? Commandeering, that's the word they used during the war, or expropriating ó Versailles called it reclamation. Who taught us how to cheat if not the state ó how else would we know what money saved up by three generations could become worthless in a mere two weeks, that families could be swindled out of pastures, houses, and fields that had been theirs for a hundred years? Even if I kill someone, who trained me to do it? Six months on the drill field and then years at the front! We have an excellent case against the state, by God, we'll win in every court. It can never pay off its terrible debt, never give back what it took from us. Once there might have been a reason to have some qualms, back when the state was a good custodian, thrifty, decent, proper. Now that it's behaved like a hoodlum, we have the right to be hoodlums too.

 
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Our generation faces only one danger, that we might say to ourselves this is not our problem, and that we will pass it off to the distant future. That we might shrug and say to ourselves that a thousand years is a long time. That we will become complacent and conclude that this problem will take care of itself.
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