Throw your problems in a lake?
That’s the answer from a viral Tik Tok video that imagines a heated conversation between a Wolf-Blitzer-type interviewer and the first president of the United States.
“Milk is up a dollar per gallon. How can we fix inflation?,” the would-be Blitzer asks.
“Have you tried throwing it in a lake?, responds the President. “That’s what we did for tea. They charged us three extra pennies so we threw it all in a lake. Literally fixed everything.”
“Wasn’t that a harbor?”
“No. I threw all my problems in a lake…”
But seriously, how would George Washington address inflation today?
George Washington Inflation
George Washington did not directly address the topic of inflation in any of his known writings or speeches. During his time as the first President of the United States (1789-1797), the United States was still in its early stages of development, and inflation as we understand it today was not a prominent economic concern. Washington’s writings and speeches primarily focused on issues related to the formation of the new nation, governance, foreign policy, and his role as a leader. Therefore, there is no specific statement or quote from George Washington about inflation.
Did any of the Founding Fathers address inflation?
The term “inflation” as we understand it today did not exist in the same form during the time of the Founding Fathers, and economic issues were discussed in different terms. However, some of the Founding Fathers did express concerns and thoughts about economic stability, the value of currency, and related topics.
Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States, was wary of excessive government debt and favored a limited role for the federal government in economic matters. He believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution and was generally suspicious of a strong central bank.
Alexander Hamilton: Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, was a proponent of a national bank and a strong federal government role in regulating the economy. He argued for a national bank to stabilize the economy and the value of currency, which he believed would help prevent financial instability.
James Madison: Madison, often called the “Father of the Constitution,” expressed concerns about the potential for economic instability caused by state-issued paper money. He believed that the federal government should have the power to regulate currency to prevent states from issuing their own potentially inflationary currencies.
While these Founding Fathers had differing views on economic matters, their discussions primarily revolved around issues such as fiscal policy, monetary policy, and the role of government in economic affairs. The concept of inflation as it is understood today with modern central banking and economic theories was not a central concern during their time.
Surely Ben Franklin had something to say about inflation…
Benjamin Franklin, another prominent figure from the American Revolutionary era, did have some thoughts on economic matters, including inflation. While he didn’t use the term “inflation” as we do today, he did address issues related to currency and its value.
Franklin is often attributed with the famous saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” This aphorism reflects his understanding of the importance of preserving the value of money and being frugal. It implies that if you can save money and prevent it from losing its value, you effectively “earn” more.
In his writings, Franklin also discussed the detrimental effects of excessive printing of paper money without sufficient backing, which could lead to a decrease in its value. He understood the importance of maintaining the stability and trustworthiness of a currency.
While Franklin may not have provided detailed economic theories about inflation, his writings and sayings suggest that he was aware of the importance of sound monetary policy and the consequences of currency devaluation. His practical wisdom and economic insights continue to be relevant in discussions about financial responsibility and the value of money.
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