Malthus argued that redemption of the public debt wold be unwise given England’s economic circumstances, which were characterized by an excess of capital relative to aggregate demand and, consequently, a low rate of profit.
That is from Nancy Churchman, her full piece is here. Referring to the early 19th century, she also writes:
There was broad agreement that the debt had reached a dangerously high level and that action of some sort should be taken to address it.
There is good ‘ol Lord Lauderdale, circa 1803:
He constantly links the welfare of the country with the continuance of a high rate of yield to holders of the public debt.
Say himself advocated public works to remedy unemployment, and criticized Ricardo for neglecting the possibility of hoarding if there was a lack of investment opportunities.
And turning to Ricardo:
Ricardo’s theory of public loans then was based on an emphasis of the fact that the primary burden to the community was derived from the wasteful nature of public expenditure itself rather than from the methods adopted to finance such expenditure.
I like this one from Ricardo, in favor of tax rather than debt finance, from his Essay on the Funding System:
When the pressure of war is felt at once, without mitigation, we shall be less disposed wantonly to engage in an expensive contest.
Ho hum, ho hum. Go back and read the classics, and hang your heads in despair.
As I’ve mentioned, it sometimes feels like we are living in the early 19th century.