167.: ricardo to mcculloch1[Answered by 190] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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ricardo to mcculloch
[Answered by 190]
London, Upper Brook Street Grosvenor Square 9 June 1816
I beg to return you my thanks for the pamphlet which you were so kind as to send me, and which I have read with much pleasure. I cannot however agree with you in the necessity of adopting the violent remedy you propose for our present difficulties, of reducing the interest on the National Debt, because though such a measure might be beneficial to one class at the expence of another, it would afford very little relief to the country, and would be a precedent of a most alarming and dangerous nature. Many persons are of opinion, that the present agreement between the value of paper money and bullion, has been brought about by the fall in the value of the latter. If so the proposed remedy would be one of positive injustice, even to those stockholders who have lent their money to Government during the latter years of the war, and still more so to those who have been proprietors of stock for a longer period. My own opinion is that there has been both a fall in the value of the precious metals and a rise in the value of paper. Inasmuch as the latter has taken place the stockholder has been benefited, but if it would be wise to legislate for every alteration in the value of the currency we ought to have begun long ago, when the stockholders were suffering from a fall in the value of money; and such has been their situation ever since the commencement of the National Debt. No relief is ever afforded to those who suffer from a fall in the value of money, but every heart sympathizes with those who are losers by its rise.
Much of our present distress arises from a fall in the value of raw produce, which would have taken place under the present circumstances if our currency had uniformly consisted of the precious metals. It is a fall totally independent of any variation in the value of money. It is confined to raw produce alone, and those who suffer by it have no more claim to relief than the West India planters, or distillers, when adverse circumstances occur in their business.—The price of raw produce cannot for any length of time keep so low as to prevent farmers from getting the general profits of stock however high they may be taxed. All taxes I apprehend fall ultimately on the consumers.—Our financial prospect is not very encouraging. The first duty of ministers, it appears to me, is to lessen our expences as much as possible, —the second is to raise the taxes till they equal our expenditure. They should I think not meddle with the sinking fund, and still less should they interfere with the dividends of the [stockhol]ders. It is expenditure which will ruin u[s, not the taxes] which are necessary to pay the int[erest on that ex]penditure.—You will, I am su[re] excuse me for so freely expressing my opinion [on] matters which are interesting to us all, and on which our object can only be to discover truth, and improve the science of Political Economy.
I am Sir Your obedt. and humble Servt.
J. R McCulloch Esqr.