— Russell Kirk in Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered
Genuine reform, in order to reduce abuses, must be accomplished gradually, the reformer sounding the lead all along the way.
Early reformations are amicable reformations with a friend in power.
Late reformations are terms imposed upon a conquered enemy.
Early reformations are made in cool blood.
Late reformations are made under a state of inflammation. In that state of things the people behold in government nothing that is respectable.They see the abuse and they will see nothing else. They fall into the temper of a furious populous provoked at the disorder of a house of ill fame. They go to work by the shortest way, they abate the nuisance, they pull down the house."
- Edmund Burke’s eternal wisdom, later paraphrased as “Early reform is an accommodation made with a friend while late reform is capitulation to an enemy.”
In other words: Let’s deal with the debt (not just the deficit) now while we still can, before our debtors impose terms upon us as a conquered, indebted enemy.