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America's Founders' Financial Advice

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

America is broke. Wall Street is going out of business. The government is borrowing and bailing like there is no tomorrow. Americans anxiously await the full impact of a second Great Depression. And we all are longing and looking for solutions and saviors.

Who will deliver us from our certain financial despair and ruin? The president? The secretary of the Treasury? The Federal Reserve? Congress? An ad hoc committee of Harvard MBAs? Some of America's best and biggest financial moguls? A new president? Have no fear. Our Founders are here.

It's true that we can't repeat the past eight years of government. But it's even truer that we can't repeat the past 38 years of the government's financial mismanagement, especially when only four of them since 1970 haven't been deficit-building years. What we need is to turn back the financial clock 200 years and return to the fiscal prudence of our Founding Fathers.

With small variances, our Founders agreed on five basic approaches to fiscal management, which I describe in far more detail in the third chapter ("Stop America's nightmare of debt") of my new New York Times best-seller (as of the list of Sept. 28), "Black Belt Patriotism," in which I resolve eight major problems facing America with our Founders' solutions. If we're going to awaken America from its economic slumber, then we must go back to those who discovered and established the American dream. Their financial principles were:

--Restrict spending within constitutional limits. The 10th Amendment restricts the size of government, and that always should bear out in spending and the federal budget. That means cutting hundreds of billions the Fed shouldn't be spending. That means following congressional protocol. That means understanding that income and export taxes were unconstitutional to our Founders.

--Don't bail out debt with more debt. George Washington wrote in 1799 to James Welch, "To contract new debts is not the way to pay for old ones." Thomas Jefferson similarly admonished Samuel Kercheval in 1816, "To preserve (the) independence (of the people), we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt." (Some are quick to point out that Thomas Jefferson financed the Louisiana Purchase with government loans, but they overlook the fact that Jefferson's administration lowered the federal deficit by nearly one-third during his eight years in office.)

--Have a pay-as-you-go government. If we don't have the money, we shouldn't spend it. Period. No more debt. No more bailouts. No more spending. As Thomas Jefferson wrote to Fulwar Skipwith in 1787, "The maxim of buying nothing but what we (have) money in our pockets to pay for … (is) a maxim which, of all others, lays the broadest foundation for happiness."

--Minimize taxes to citizens. Our earliest government's primary tool to raise revenue was from tariffs, not through the countless taxes placed upon citizens today. That is one reason I say to abolish the unconstitutional Internal Revenue Service and implement a "fair tax," which doesn't penalize productivity and will bring American manufacturing back within our borders. As James Madison said in 1783: "Taxes on consumption are always least burdensome because they are least felt and are borne, too, by those who are both willing and able to pay them; that of all taxes on consumption, those on foreign commerce are most compatible with the genius and policy of free states."

--Get over the greed. We're in this financial mess because of greed. Why is government spending out of control? Greed. Why do we, as individuals and as a nation, keep falling deeper into a pit of debt? Greed. Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the Treasury, believed that a government that could use greed to motivate its people would become powerful and wealthy. Unfortunately, we've taken it to the extreme. We've become a nation that confuses our needs and greeds, and we've got to get back to the basics if we're ever to understand and overcome the heart of this financial crisis.

Call me altruistic; say the plan is oversimplified. But even mom always taught me when I was young, "If you get in a pinch, go back to the basics." It works in martial arts. It works in the movies. It works in marriage. It works in financial markets. And it worked for our Founding Fathers.

What we need today are far more men and women in government with our Founders' financial forethought, cautiousness and discipline. But that is not what we have. That is why I've joined the voter revolution across this land to oust political corruption and stalemate. If you're ready to join millions of other Americans in that commitment, then give me three steps: Make a pledge to bring about political change in future elections; recall unconstitutional congressional incumbents; and rise up and elect above-reproach, non-greedy and selfless representatives who aren't afraid to stand up to governmental status quo and corruption, will vote for constitutional restrictions of government, reduce big government (deficits, budgets, spending and taxes), reform the tax code (by providing a "fair tax" or its equivalent) and fight for a constitutional amendment that would mandate a balanced federal budget

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