This essay is written for a Festschrift to commemorate Jürgen Backhaus’s contributions to political economy on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Erfurt. Jürgen is a penetrating and wide-ranging scholar from whom I have learned much since we first met in 1974. It would be easy to write a book to commemorate the numerous paths of influence and insight I have received from Jürgen. But I have only this paper through which to offer my commemoration and I have chosen a topic that arose at our very first meeting. That topic was the debate between Joseph Schumpeter and Rudolf Goldscheid regarding different approaches to the discharge of Austria’s public debt at the end of the First World War and the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That point of departure leads quickly into a consideration of divergent approaches to the theory of public finance, and particularly the conceptualization of capital accounts for political entities and the place of political presuppositions within a theory of public finance.