It’s been a very long time indeed since we’ve heard words like these from a politician, said by the Chinese Ambassador to the UK in response to suggestions earlier in the week that China should use its own huge cash reserves to produce “a fiscal boost for the world”:
"[China's] reserves are not the money of the government. The Premier cannot write a cheque on it. It's the money of the Chinese people and the Chinese businesses who left it in the safe-keeping of the central bank..."
Like I say, it’s been a long time since we’ve heard words like these from a politician. The last time I can recall was in 1887, when President Grover Cleveland vetoed an appropriation to help drought-stricken counties in Texas, saying:
I feel obliged to withhold my approval of the plan to indulge in benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of public funds. ... I find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution.
Cleveland was almost certainly echoing James Madison, who in 1792 when Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist some French refugees he wrote disapprovingly:
I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.
Seems one modern politician at least has some idea of whose money it is that’s being spent.