Widespread interest in public expenditure belongs to modern times, yet we do not find its importance entirely ignored, even at the beginning of the study of fiscal problems. Carafa, the statesman of Naples, near the end of the fourteenth century, became concerned about the expenditure of the kingdom. He made three important classes of the purposes for which public funds were used: (1) for the defense of the nation; (2) for the support of the ruler; (3) for contingencies. He contended for a reserve fund to meet emergencies, and for close official supervision of the public accounts.
Bodin, the first important French student of fiscal problems, wrote in the latter part of the sixteenth century, and contended that the public funds should be used for the honor of the state. He recommended, furthermore, that an annual statement be made which would show the condition of the state's finances. His classification of expenditure was somewhat more definite than that of Carafa, and included provisions for the care of the poor as well as for improvements.
Sir William Petty, near the middle of the seventeenth century - the first English fiscal writer of note - gave a rather detailed classification of the important needs for public funds. It will be interesting to compare the relative importance of the items in his list with a modern list of expenditures, which will be given later.1 His classes of expenditures were for: (1) defense; (2) maintaining the government; (3) religion; (4) education; (5) orphans; (6) public works. Yet, notwithstanding the consideration which fell to expenditure, revenue systems received the major portion of the early study and investigation.