Chapter 8


September 30, 2015

Section 2: The different Modes of Assessment, and the Classes they press ups respectively.

A 1% tax on the redemption of ground-rents and rent-charges was virtually a penalty upon an act, equally advantageous to the parties and to the community at large; a fine upon the meritorious exertions of prudent land-owners to pay off their incumbrances.

Taxation is a requisition by the government upon its subjects for a portion of their products, or of their value. It is the business of the political economist to explain the effects resulting from the nature of the products put in requisition, and from the mode of apportioning the burthen, as well as upon whom the burthen of the charge really falls, since it must inevitably fall upon some one or other. The application of the above principles in a few specific instances will show, how they may be applied in all others. The law of Napoleon, exacting from each scholar, educated in a private academy, a specified payment into the chests of the public universities, operated as a penalty upon that mode of education, which alone can soften national manners and fully develop the faculties of the human mind. 86

When a government derives a profit from the licensing of lotteries and gambling-houses, what does it else but offer a premium to a vice most fatal to domestic happiness, and destructive of national prosperity? How disgraceful is it, to see a government thus acting as= the pander of irregular desires, and imitating the fraudulent conduct it punishes in others, by holding out to want and avarice the bait of hollow and deceitful chance! 87

The public authority levies the values taken in the way of taxation, sometimes in the shape of money, sometimes in kind, according to its own wants, or the ability of the tax-payer.

In whatever shape it is paid, the actual contribution of the tax- payer is always of the value of the article he gives. If the government, wanting or pretending to want corn, or leather, or woollens, makes a requisition of those articles upon the tax-payer, and obliges him to furnish them in kind, the tax paid amounts exactly to what the payer has expended in pro- curing those articles, or what he could have sold them for, if the government had not taken them from him. This is the only way of ascertaining the amount of the tax, whatever price or rate the government may set upon it in the plenitude of its power.

On the contrary, taxes, that check and confine the excesses of vanity and vice, besides yielding a revenue to the state, oper- ate as a means of prevention. Humboldt mentions a tax upon cock-fighting, which yields to the Mexican government 45,000 dollars per annum, and has the further advantage of checking that cruel and barbarous diversion. Exorbitant or inequitable taxation promotes fraud, falsehood, and perjury. Well-meaning persons are presented with the distressing alternative, of violating truth, or sacrificing their interests in favour of less scrupulous fellow-citizens. They can not but feel involuntary disgust, at seeing acts, in them- selves innocent, and sometimes even useful and meritorious, branded with the name, and subjected to all the consequences, of criminality.

So, likewise, the charges of collection, in whatever shape they may appear, are always an aggravation of the assessment, whether they accrue to the profit of the state or not. If the tax- payer be obliged to lose his time, or transport his goods, for the purpose of paying the tax, the whole of the time lost, or expense of transport, is an aggravation of the tax. Among the contributions, that a government exacts from its subjects, should likewise be comprised, all the expenses which its political conduct may bring upon the nation. Thus, in esti- mating the expenses of war, we must include the value of equipment and pocket-money, with which the military are supplied by themselves or their families; the value of the time lost by the militia; the sums paid for exemption and substi- tutes; the full charge of quarters for the troops; the pillage and destruction they may be guilty of; the presents and atten- tions lavished on them by friends or countrymen on their re- turn; to all which must be added, the alms extorted from pity and compassion by the misery consequent upon such mis- rule. For, in fact, none of these values need have been taken from the members of the community under a better system of government. And, although none of them have gone into the treasury of the monarch, yet have they been paid by the people, and their amount is as completely lost, as if they had contrib- uted to the happiness of the human species.

These are the principal rules, by which present or future taxation must be weighed, with a view to the public prosperity. After these general remarks, which are applicable to, taxation in all its branches, it may be useful to examine the vari- ous modes of assessment; in other words, the methods adopted for procuring money from the subject; as well as to inquire, upon what classes of the community the burthen principally falls.

Hence, we may form some notion of the extent of the na- tional sacrifices. But, from what source are they drawn? — Doubtless, either from the annual product of the national in- dustry, land, and capital; that is to say, from the national rev- enue; or from the values previously saved and accumulated; that is to say, from the national capital. only real subject of taxation; and the specific commodity is selected only as a more or less effective means of discover- ing and attacking that revenue. If individual honesty could in every case be relied on, the matter would be simple enough; all that would be requisite would be, to ask each person the amount of his annual profits, that is to say, his annual rev- enue. The contingent of each would be readily settled, and one tax only necessary, which would be at the same time the most equitable, and the cheapest in the collection. This was the method adopted at Hamburgh, before that city fell into misfortune; but it can never be practised, except in a republic of small extent, and very moderately taxed.

When taxation is moderate, the subject can not only pay his taxes wholly out of his revenue, but will not be altogether disabled from besides saving some part of that revenue= and although some of the tax-payers may be obliged to trench upon their capital for the payment of their taxes, the loss to the general stock is amply reimbursed by the savings, which this happy state of affairs allows others to effect. As a means of assessing direct taxation proportionately to the respective revenues of the tax-payers, governments some- times compel the production of leases by landlords, or, where there is no lease, set a value on the land, and demand a cer- tain proportion of that value from the proprietor; this is called a land-tax.(Contribution-fonciere.) Sometimes they estimate the revenue by the rent of the habitation, and the number of servants, horses, and carriages kept, and make the assessment accordingly. This is called in France, the tax on moveables.(Mobiliere) Sometimes they calculate the profits of each person’s profession or calling, by the extent of the population and district where it is followed. This is called in France, the license-tax.(Les Patentes) All these different modes of assessment are expedients of direct taxation. But it is far otherwise, when military despotism or usurped authority extorts excessive contributions. Great part of the taxes is then taken from the vested and accumulated capital; and, if the country be long subjected to its domination, the revenues of each successive year are progressively reduced, and the ruin and depopulation of the country, will recoil upon its rulers, unless their downfall be accelerated by their own folly and excesses.

Under the protecting influence of just and regular govern- ment, on the contrary, there is a progressive annual enlarge- ment of the profits and revenues, on which taxation is to be levied; and that taxation, without any alteration of its ratio, gradually becomes more productive by the mere multiplica- tion of taxable products.

In the assessment of indirect taxation, and such as is intended to bear upon specific classes of consumption, the object it- self is alone attended to, without regard to the party who may incur the charge. Sometimes a portion of the value of the spe- cific product is demanded at the time of production; as in France, in the article of salt. Sometimes the demand is made on entry, either into the state, as in the duties of import;(Douanes) or into the towns only, as in the duties of entry.(Octroi) Sometimes a tax is demanded of the consumer at the moment of transfer to him from the last producer;’as in the case of the stamp duty in England, and the duty on theat- rical tickets in France. Sometimes the government requires a commodity to bear a particular mark, for which it makes a charge, as in the case of the assay-mark of silver, and stamp on newspapers. Sometimes it monopolizes the manufacture of a particular article, or the performance of a particular kind of business; as in the monopoly of tobacco, and the postage of letters. Sometimes, instead of charging the commodity it- self, it charges the payment of its price; as in the case of stamps on receipts and mercantile paper. All these are different ways of raising a revenue by indirect taxation; for the demand is not made on any person in particular, but attaches upon the product or article taxed. 88

Nor is the government more deeply interested in moderating the ratio of taxation, than its impartial assessment upon every class of individual revenue, and its equal pressure upon all. In fact, when revenue is partially affected, taxation sooner reaches the extreme limits of the ability of some classes, while others are scarcely touched at all= it becomes vexatious and destructive, before it arrives at the highest practical ratio. The burthen is galling, not because of its weight, but because it does not rest upon all shoulders alike. The different methods employed to reach individual revenues, may be classed under two grand divisions — direct, and indi- rect, taxation; the former is the absolute demand of a specific portion of an individual’s real or supposed revenue; the lat- ter, a demand of a specific sum on each act of consumption of certain specified objects, to which that income may be applied.

In neither case, is the real subject of taxation that commodity, on which the estimate is made, and which forms the ground- work of the demand for the tax; or of necessity that value, whereof a part is taken by the state; individual revenue is the

tion into private circumstances; nor does it make one person suffer for the default of another. The inconvenience of appeals and private animosities, as well as of levy by distress or imprisonment, is avoided altogether.

It may easily be conceived, that a class of revenue, which may escape one of these taxes, will be affected by another; and that the multiplicity of the forms of taxation gives a great approximation to its equal distribution; provided always, that all are kept within the bounds of moderation.

Another advantage of indirect taxation is, that it enables the government to bias the different classes of consumption; favouring such as promote the public prosperity, as does reproductive consumption of all kinds; and checking such as tend to public impoverishment, as do all kinds of unproductive consumption; discouraging the costly and insipid indul- gences of the wealthy, and promoting the simpler and cheaper enjoyments of the poor and industrious.

Every one of these modes of assessment has peculiar advantages and peculiar disadvantages, besides the general evil of all taxation, to wit, that of appropriating a part of the products of the community to purposes little conducive to its happiness and reproductive powers. Direct taxation, for instance, is cheap in the collection; but, on the other hand, it is paid with reluctance, and must be enforced with considerable harshness and rigour. Besides, it bears very inequitably upon the individual. A rich merchant, charged only 120 dollars for his license, makes an annual profit, perhaps, of 20,000 dollars; while the retailer, who can scarcely be supposed to make more than 300 dollars, is charged for his license 20 dollars, which is the lowest rate. The revenue of the landholder is already affected by the land-tax, before it is further reduced by the tax on moveables; while the capitalist is subjected to the latter burthen only.

It has been objected to indirect taxation, that it entails a heavy expense of collection and management, and a large establishment of clerks, officers, directors, and subordinate agents; but it is observable, that these charges may be vastly reduced by good administration. The excise and stamp-duties in En- gland cost but 3¼ per cent in the collection, in the year 1799. 90

There are few classes of direct taxation, that are managed so economically in France. Indirect taxation has the recommendation of being levyable with more ease, and with less apparent vexation or hardship. All taxes are paid with reluctance, because the equivalent to be expected for them, that is, the security afforded by good order and government, is a negative benefit, which does not immediately interest individuals; for the benefit afforded consists rather in prevention of ill, than in the diffusion of good.

But the buyer of the taxed commodity does not suspect himself to be paying for the protection of government, which probably he cares very little about; but merely for the commodity itself, which is an object of his urgent desire, although, in fact, that price is aggravated by the tax. The inducement to consume is strong enough to include the demand of the government; and he readily parts with a value, that procures an immediate gratification.

It has been further objected, that its product is uncertain and fluctuating; whereas, the public exigencies require a regular and certain supply= but there has never been any lack of bidders, whenever such taxes have been let out to farm; and ex- perience has shown, that the product of every class of taxation may always be nearly estimated and safely reckoned upon, except in very rare and extraordinary emergencies.

Besides, taxes on consumption are necessarily various; so that, the deficit of one is covered by the surplus of another. Indirect taxation is, however, an incentive to fraud, and obliges governments to brand with the character of guilt, actions that are innocent in their nature; and, consequently, to resort to adistressing severity of punishment. But this mischief is never considerable, until taxation has grown excessive, so as to make the temptation to fraud counterbalance the danger incurred.

All excess of taxation is attended with this evil; that, without enlarging the receipts of the public purse, it multiplies the sufferings of the population.

It is this circumstance, that makes such taxes appear to be voluntary. And, indeed, so much so were they considered by the United States before their emancipation, that, although the right of the British Parliament to tax America without her consent was stoutly denied, yet she was ready to acknowledge the right of imposing taxes upon consumption, which every body could evade if he pleased, by abstaining from the articles taxed. 89 Personal taxes are viewed in a different light, and have more of the character of ostensible spoliation.

Consumption, and, consequently, individual revenue, are unequally affected by indirect, as well as by direct, taxation= for the private consumption of many articles is not proportionate to the revenue of the consumer.

The possessor of an annual revenue of 20.000 dollars does not consume in the year an hundred times as much salt, as the possessor’ of a revenue of 200 dollars only. But this inequality may be obviated by the variety of taxes on consumption. Moreover, it is to be recollected, that such taxes fall upon incomes already charged with the taxes on land and on Indirect taxation is levied piecemeal, and paid by individuals according to their respective ability at the moment. It involves none of the perplexity of separate assessments on each province, department, or individual; or of the inquisitorial inspec

analogous to that of gunpowder, which at the same time propels the bullet, and makes the piece recoil. moveables. A person, whose whole income is derived from land, in respect to which he is taxed in the first instance, pays on the same income a second tax under the head of moveables; and a third on every taxed article, that he buys and consumes.

By laying a tax upon the consumption of woollens, their con- sumption is reduced, and the revenue of the wool-grower suf- fers in consequence. It is true, he may take to a different kind of cultivation, but we may fairly suppose, that, under all the circumstances of soil and situation, the rearing of sheep was the most profitable kind of culture; otherwise, he would not have chosen it. A change in the mode of cultivation must, therefore, involve a loss of revenue. But the clothier and the capitalist will each be subjected to a portion of the loss re- sulting from the tax.

Although all these kinds of taxes be paid in the outset, by the persons of whom they are demanded by the public authority, it would be wrong to suppose, that they always ultimately fall on the original payers, who, in many instances, are not the parties really charged, but merely advance the tax in the first instance, and contrive to get indemnified wholly or partially by the consumers of their own peculiar products. But the rate of indemnity is infinitely diversified by the respective cir- cumstances of the individuals.

Each concurrent producer is affected by a tax on an article of consumption, in proportion only to the share he may have in raising the product taxed. Of this diversity, we may form some notion, by the consider- ation of the following general facts: When the taxation of the producers of a specific commodity operates to raise its price, part of the tax is paid by the con- sumers of the commodity. If its price be nowise raised, it falls wholly upon the producers. If the commodity, instead of be- ing thereby advanced in price, is deteriorated in quality, a portion of the tax at least must fall upon the consumer; for a purchase of inferior quality at equal price is equivalent to a purchase of equal quality and superior price.

When the owner of the soil furnishes the greatest part of the value of a product, as he does in respect to products con- sumed nearly in the primary state, he it is that bears the greatest part of that portion of the tax, which falls on the producers. A duty of entry upon the wine imported into the towns, falls heavily upon the wine-grower; but an exorbitant excise upon lace will affect the flax-grower in a degree hardly per- ceptible; whereas, all the other producers, the dealers, the operative and speculative manufacturers, who create the far greater proportion of the value of the lace, will suffer very severely.

Every addition to price must needs reduce the number of those possessed of the ability to purchase; or, at any rate, must di- minish the extent of that ability. 91 There is much less salt con- sumed, when it sells for three cents, than when it sells for one cent per lb. Now, the ratio of the demand to the means of production being lowered, productive agency in this depart- ment is worse paid; that is to say, the master-manufacturer of salt, and all the subordinate agents and labourers, together with the capitalist that supplies the funds, and the landlord of the premises where the concern is carried on, must be content with smaller profits, because their product is less in demand. 92 The productive classes, indeed, naturally strive to indemnify themselves to the amount of the tax; but, they can never suc- ceed to the full extent, because the intrinsic value of the com- modity, that, I mean, which goes to pay the charges of pro- duction, is really diminished. So that, in fact, the tax upon an article never raises its total price by the full amount of the tax; because, to do so, the total demand must remain the same; which it never can do. Wherefore, in such cases, the tax falls, partly upon those, who still continue to consume, notwith- standing the increase of price, and partly upon the producers, who raise a less product, and find that, in consequence of the reduced demand, they really obtain less on the sale, when the tax comes to be deducted. The public revenue gains the whole excess of price to the consumer, and the whole of the profit, which the produce is thus compelled to resign. The effect is When the value of a product is partly of foreign, and partly of domestic creation, the domestic producers bear nearly the whole burthen of the tax. A tax upon cottons in France will reduce the earnings of her cotton manufacturers, by lowering the demand for their product; thus, part of the tax will fall on them. But the wages of the productive agency of the cotton- growers in America will be very little affected indeed, unless there be a concurrence of other circumstances. In fact, the tax would reduce the consumption in France 10 per cent per- haps, and demand in America 1 per cent only, if the demand from France were but one-tenth of the general demand upon America. The taxation of an object of consumption, if it be one of pri- mary necessity, operates upon the price of almost all other products, and consequently falls upon the revenues of all the other consumers. An octroi upon meat, corn, and fuel, at their entry into a town, enhances the price of every thing manufac- tured in it; while a tax upon the tobacco there consumed makes no other commodity dearer; the producers and consumers of tobacco alone are affected; and for a very plain reason; the producer who indulges in superfluities has to maintain a com- petition with another, who abstains from them; but, if he pays the satisfaction it yields to the occupier, is a product of manu- facture and not of land; and the high rate of house-rent reduces the production and consumption of houses, in the like manner as of cloth or any other manufactured commodity.

Builders, finding their profits reduced, will build less; and consumers, finding the accommodation dearer, will content themselves with inferior lodging.

a tax upon necessaries, he need fear no competition for his neighbours will be all in the same predicament. The direct taxation of the productive classes must, a fortiori, affect the consumers of their products, but can never raise the prices of those products so much, as completely to indemnify the producer; because, as I have repeatedly explained, the increased price abridges the demand, and the contraction of the demand reduces the profits of all the productive agency, that has been exerted in the supply. From all those circumstances, we may judge of the temerity of asserting as a general maxim, that taxation falls exclusively upon any specific class or classes of the community. It al- ways falls upon those who can find no means of evasion; for every one naturally tries to shift the burthen off his own shoul- ders if possible; but the ability to evade it is infinitely varied, according to the various forms of assessment, and the posi- tion of each individual in the social system. Nay, more; it varies at different times even in the same channel of produc- tion. When a commodity is in great request, the holder will not part with the possession, unless indemnified for all his advances, of which the tax he has paid is a part= he will take nothing short of a full and complete indemnity. But, if any unlooked for occurrence should happen to lower the demand for his product, he will be glad enough to take the tax upon himself, for the sake of quickening the sale. There are few things so unsteady and variable, as the ratio of the pressure of taxation upon each respective class of the community. Those writers, who have maintained, that it bears upon any one or more classes in particular, or in any fixed or certain propor- tion, have found their theory contradicted by experience at every turn. Of the concurrent producers of a specific product, some can more easily evade the effect of the tax than others. The capi- talist, whose capital is not absolutely vested and sunk in a particular business, may withdraw it and transfer it elsewhere, from a concern that yields him a reduced interest, or has be- come more hazardous. The adventurer or master-manufac- turer may, in many cases, liquidate his account, and transfer his labour and intelligence to some other quarter. Not so the land-owner and proprietor of fixed capital. 93 An acre of vine- yard or corn-land will only produce a given quantity of corn or wine, whatever be. the ratio of taxation; which may take the ½ or even ¾ of the net produce, or rent as it is called, and yet the land be tilled for the sake of the remaining ½ or ¼. 94 The rent, that is to say, the portion assigned to the proprietor, will be reduced, and that is all. The reason will be manifest to any one, who considers, that in the case supposed, the land continues to raise and supply the market with the same amount of produce as before; while on the other hand, the motives in which the demand originates remain just as they were. 95 If, then, the intensity of supply and demand must both remain the same, in spite of any increase or diminution of the ratio of the direct taxation upon the land, the price of the product supplied will likewise remain unchanged, and nothing but a change of price can saddle the consumer with any portion whatever of that taxation. 96

Furthermore, the effects I have been describing, and which are equally consonant to experience and to reason, are uni- form in their operation and of equal duration with the causes in which they originate. The owner of land will never be able to saddle the consumers of its produce with any part of his land-tax; not so the manufacturer. A manufactured commod- ity will invariably feel a diminution in its consumption, in consequence of the price being raised by taxation, supposing other circumstances to be stationary; and its production will be a less profitable occupation. A person, who is neither pro- ducer nor consumer of an object of luxury, will never bear any portion whatever of the tax that may be laid upon it. — What, then, must we think of a proposition, unfortunately sanctioned by the approbation of an illustrious body, 98 that has too much neglected this branch of science, namely, that it is of little importance whether a tax press upon one branch of revenue or another, provided it be of long standing; because every tax in the end affects every class of revenue, in like manner, as bleeding in the arm reduces the circulating blood of the whole human frame. The object of comparison has no analogy whatever with taxation. Social wealth is not a fluid, tending constantly to find a level. It rather resembles the veg- Nor can the proprietor evade the tax even by the sale of the estate; for the price or purchase-money will be calculated according to the revenue which may be left him by taxation. The purchaser makes his estimate according to the net rev- enue, charges and taxes deducted. If the ordinary interest on such investments of capital be five per cent, an estate that before would have sold for 20,000 dollars, will fetch but 16,000 dollars when it comes to be charged with an annual tax of 200 dollars; for its actual product to the proprietor will not exceed 800 dollars. The effect is precisely the same, as if government were to appropriate to itself 1-5 of the land in the country; which would make no difference at all to the’ consumers of its produce. 97 But property in dwelling-houses is otherwise circumstanced; a tax upon the ownership raises the rents; for a house, or rather

Nor is this mere theory= the neglect of these principles has occasioned may serious practical errors; like that of the Con- stituent Assembly of France, which carried to excess the sys- tem of direct taxation, especially upon land; being misled by the prevailing and fashionable doctrine of the economists; — that land is the source of all wealth, the agriculturist the only productive labourer, and France naturally and essentially an agricultural country.

etable creation, which admits of the loss of a limb without the destruction of the trunk, and in which the loss is more to be lamented, if the branch be productive, than if it be barren. — But the tree will bear cutting and hacking in every part, be- fore it becomes barren all over, or necessarily falls into de- cay. This is a far more apposite case; but neither will do to reason upon. Comparisons are not proofs, but mere illustra- tions, tending to make that intelligible. which can be made out in proof without their assistance. It seems to me that, in the present stage of political economy, the principles of taxation will be more correctly laid down as follows:

When speaking of taxes upon products, which I have some- times called taxes upon consumption, although not paid en- tirely in all cases by the consumer, I have hitherto made no mention of the particular stage of production, at which the tax may be demanded, or of the consequence of this particu- lar circumstance, which deserves a little of our attention. Taxation is the taking a portion of the general product of the community, which never returns to the community in the chan- nel of consumption. It takes from the community over and above the values actually brought into the exchequer, the charges of collection, and the personal trouble it entails; to- gether with all those values, of which it obstructs the cre- ation.

Products increase in value progressively, as they pass through the hands of the different concurrent producers= and even the most simple undergo a variety of modifications, before they arrive at a fit state for consumption. Wherefore, a tax does not take the proportion of the value of a product which it professes, unless it be levied at the precise moment, when it has arrived at the full value, and has undergone all the productive modifications. If a tax be imposed on the raw mate- rial in the outset, proportioned, not to its then value, but to the value it is about to receive, the producer, in whose hands it happens to be, is obliged to advance a tax out of proportion to the value in hand; which advance, besides being highly inconvenient to himself, is refunded with equal inconvenience by every successive producer, till it reach the hands of the last, who is in turn but partially indemnified by the consumer. And there is this further mischief in such an advance of tax; that it prevents the class of industry, which is called upon to make it, from being originally set in motion, without a larger capital than the nature of the business requires; and that the additional interest of the capital, which must be paid, part by the consumers, and part by the producers, is so much addi- tional taxation, without any addition of public revenue. 99 The privation resulting from taxation, whether voluntary or compulsory, affects the tax-payer in his quality of producer, whenever it operates to curtail his profits; that is to say, his income or revenue; and affects him in his character of con- sumer, whenever it increases his expenditure, by raising the prices of products.

An increase of expenditure is precisely the same thing as a diminution of revenue, whatever is taken by taxa- tion may be said to be so much deducted from the revenues of the community.

In a great majority of cases, the tax-payer is affected by taxa- tion in both his characters, of producer and consumer; and, when he can not manage to pay the public burthens out of his revenue, along with his personal consumption, he must en- croach upon his capital. When this encroachment of one per- son is not counterbalanced by the savings of another, the wealth of the community must gradually decline. Thus, both theory and experience lead to the conclusion pre- cisely opposite to that drawn by the sect of economists; and show that portion of the tax, which presses upon the consumer’s revenue, to be always the more burthensome, the earlier it is levied in the process of production. Direct and personal taxes, which operate to raise the price of necessaries, or such as fall immediately upon necessaries, are liable to this inconvenience in the highest degree= for they oblige each producer to advance the personal tax on all the producers that have preceded him= so that the same amount of capital will set in motion a smaller amount of industry; and the tax- payers pay the tax, plus a compound interest upon it, yielding no benefit to the exchequer.

The individual actually paying the tax to the tax-gatherer is not always the party really charged with it, at least, not the party charged with the whole that is paid. He frequently does no more than advance the tax, either wholly or partially; be- ing afterwards reimbursed by the other classes of the community, in a very complicated way, and perhaps after a vast variety of intermediate operations; so that a great many persons are paying portions of the tax, at a time when probably they least suspect it, either in the shape of the advanced price of commodities, or of personal loss, which they feel but can not account for.

The careful study of these principles will give some insight into the mode, in which the annual and really monstrous ex- penditure of national governments, in modern times, has habituated the subject to severer toil and exertion, without which it would be impossible that, after providing for the subsistence, comfort, and pleasures of himself and family, accord- ing to the habits of the time and place, he should be able to meet the consumption of the state, and the collateral waste and destruction it occasions, the amount of which it is impossible to ascertain, though in the larger states it is confessedly enormous.

The individuals, on whose revenues the tax ultimately falls, are the real tax-payers, and contribute value greatly exceed- ing the sum that is brought into the exchequer, even with the addition of the charges of collection. The misconduct of the government in the matter of taxation, is proportioned to this excess of the payment above the receipt.

A country heavily taxed may be considered in the same light as one labouring under natural impediments to production.

With a heavy charge of production, it raises a very small product. Personal exertion, capital, and the productive agency of land are all but poorly recompensed= and more is expended in earning a less profit.

This very profusion, though it proves the vices and defects of the political system and organization, has been attended with one advantage at any rate; it has operated to stimulate the approximation to perfection in the art of production, by oblig- ing mankind to turn the natural agents to better account. In this point of view, taxation has certainly helped to develop and enlarge the human faculties; se that, when the progress of political science shall limit taxation to the supply of real pub- lic wants only, the improvements in the art of production will prove a vast accession to human happiness. But, should the abuses and complexity of the political system lead to the preva- lence, extension, increase, and consolidation of oppressive and disproportionate taxation, it is much to be feared, that it may plunge again into barbarism those nations, whose pro- ductive powers are now the most astonishing; and the condi- tion of the labouring classes, who are always the bulk of the community, may in such nations present a picture of drudg- ery so incessant and toilsome, as to make them cast a wistful eye upon the liberty of savage existence; which, though it offer no prospect of domestic comfort, at least promises eman- cipation from perpetual exertion to supply the prodigality of a public expenditure, yielding to them no satisfaction, and, perhaps even operating to their prejudice. 102

Book 1 explained the difference between positive and relative dearness. High price resulting from taxation is positive dearness= it indicates a smaller product raised by the efforts of a larger amount of productive agency.

Besides which, taxation generally occasions a cotemporary advance of commodities in comparison with sil- ver; that is to say, raises their money price= and for this reason; because specie is not an annual, regenerative product, like those that are swallowed up by taxation.

Government is not a consumer of specie, except when it happens to export it for the payment of its armies, or foreign subsidies= it refunds in the purchases it makes all the specie it obtains by taxation= but the value levied is never refunded. 101 Wherefore, since taxation paralyzes one part of the sources of production, and effects the rapid destruction of the product of the other, when its ratio is excessive, it must gradually render products more scarce in proportion to the specie, which is not varied in quan- tity by the operation. Now, whenever the commodities to be circulated become fewer in proportion to the specie that is to circulate them, their relative value to the specie must rise; the same money will purchase a smaller quantity of products. It might be supposed, that such a superabundance of gold and silver specie ought to operate in exoneration of the pub- lic= yet it can not have that effect; for, however plentiful it may be in proportion to other commodities, still individuals can only obtain it by giving their own products in exchange, and the raising of those products has become more difficult and more costly.


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How to Fix Afghanistan

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