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Bold indeed, but not fool-hardy:
Feeling God's sure hand on thee.
Voices from the Martyr Ages,
Voices from the Heights of Fame,
Ever speak to thee the same.
Wounded, dying, night and day,
Thou shalt echo what they say.
*You have told us of measures for the organization of Labour and Credit; you have spoken of reform in the administration of Justice, of a costly system of Education, and of Religious Worship. But our great evil is the excessive burthen of Taxation. Unrelived from that, what power have we?'
I purpose here to consider the question of Taxation.
The net revenue of the Country, taking an average of the three last years, amounts to about fifty millions. This fifty millions is applied much in the following manner.
I use round numbers. Interest of Debt (called National)
£28,000,000 Army, Navy, and Ordnance
£15,500,000 Civil Service
£50,000,000 This sum is raised as under :
Profit of Post Office and Crown Lands ... £1,000,000
• The thirty two millions of Customs and Excise are paid by the wholesale dealer. They are so much capital invested chargeable with interest, with not less than forty per cent, it is calculated, by the time the indirect tax is paid by the consumer. The globe puts down the total cost to consumers of beer and spirits at four times the original amount of the tax.
Instead of this complicated, indirect, and burthensome system, I propose one single direct impost, in the shape of a land-tax: one equal rent-charge for every cultivable acre of the Nation's Land. I propose also to reduce the cost of our war-establishment by at least two-thirds. The saving to be effected by the two mcans would stand thus. Saving in Collection
£3,500,000 Interest of Customs and Excise
£13,000,000 Reduction of Army, Navy, and Ordnance £10,500,000
£27,000,000 So reducing the amount of taxation from sixty-six millions to thirty-nine. Of which, setting aside the Interest of the Debt, the public service requires
[only £11,000,000 Add provision for infirm and aged e
£4,000,000 Total ...
£15,000,000 That is to say the whole cost of the public service, even under the present extravagant arrangements, and including an ample provision for the infirm and aged, might be met by a rent-charge of five shillings an acre, on the sixty-millions of cultivable land belonging to the Nation.
There remain the two important items of the DEBT and EDUCATION.
The interest of the Debt should no longer be collected as a yearly-tax upon the Community. Let the State take possession of the Railways' (the public
• An uniform charge, because the main difference in value of the land is the result of individual labour. The tax would be the Nation's rent. See Organization of Labour on the Land, page 121.
• In the Republic every man would learn the use of arms. Every man would possess arms, and be liable to be called out in case of invasion. With this national guard, our unjust possessions given up to their rightful owners, and our colonies left to support themselves when they could, we should need scarcely any standing army; the ordance department might be proportionably reduced; and even the navy bear some considerable retrenchment were it only in the items of retiring Admirals, Captain's not sea worthy, unused stores and dockyard experiments.
& The advantage of directness. The Income of Property Tax is collected at a cost of less than £400,000. The Land Tax could be collected for the same amount, or less.
• Saving all the present poor-rates. The able-bodied, having ready access to the Land and to Credit, would no longer be a burthen to the community. See organization of Land and Credit, pages 121, and 154.
As the present Acts of Parliament empower the State to do. The State would pay a fair price for all justifiable outlay. Nothing of course, for money merely squandered; but for all bonafide work. Here a rough statement of the position of the Railways. Number of miles of railways, Jan: 1, 1851
about 3600, Cost of laying down, etc. getting laws, etc....
£200,000,000, Cost per mile
£55,000. Cost per mile of American railways, ...
£8,000. Cost of French,
£27,000. Money squandered, not to be considered in purchase, at least £100,000,000. That is to say there is about one hundred millions on account of Railways; to be paid back to the speculators. Put this in the shape of an Annuity terminable at a certain number of years ; and apply the remaining profits to the payment in the same manner to clearing off the National Debt. The profits of Railways are capable of immence increase by roads) and the Mines; and out of the profits accruing from them pay, not the eternal interest, but in terminable annuities the principal of the Debt. 5
There are in England and Wales some 22,000 miles of turnpike-roads, upon which the rails are not yet laid. Some 50,000, railway and common road, in Great Britain and Ireland; which, if all railway, might be worked at a daily profit of £2 a mile (the present daily profit on 1160 miles in New-York and New-England), -and so yield a revenue of £36,500,000 a year. I have no data for calculating the likely profits of Mines.
But the laying down the rails on the turnpike-roads must be paid for. In the Southern and Western States of America the lines are altogether constructed at a cost of £4000 a mile. £3000 a mile (the roads here being almost ready to our band) for 46,000 miles is a total of £138,000,000. To meet that, provide for the next ten years £57,000,000 a year, by a rent-charge of nineteen shillings, upon every acre of cultivable land. Public Service
15,000,000 Interest of Debt
28,000,000 Remaining for new railways
£57,000,000 The nation would still save ten millions a year (the present burthen being actually £67,000,000),— besides Poor-rates, high-way rates, and tolls. This also is making no allowance for the profits of the railways during the ten years. I believe, during that time the railways would pay their own cost, reducing our real taxa. tion for ten years to an average of £43,000,000 a year. At the end of ten years our taxation might be reduced to £15,000,000, and the whole burthen of the Debt provided for by the rails. Again, I make no account of the Mines : setting their profits against any possible exaggeration of railway capabilities. The real extent of my proposition is a saving of £240,000,000, besides poor-rates, etc., during the next ten years; and a further saving of £1000,000,000 in the following twenty years; the nation at the expiration of thirty years to be out of debt.
The cost of Education would, of course, be immense. The maintenance and instruction of the whole population during the years between infancy and maturity. But is not that a charge now? On the closest ground of economy, will not this maintenance and education cost less under arranger
nt for numbers, than when, as now, provided for by individuals ? Can you calculate the cost of this Nation's Youth under the present circumstances of inefficiency and isolation ? Be sure it exceeds the necessary cost of a comprehensive arrangement. One need not care to add this to the statement of general taxation.
alteration of the present expensive system of management-long trains, heavy engines, and numerous servants,--and allowing also for reduction of fares to one penny a mile for first class, and one halfpenny a mile for second class passengers.
Let it not be said that it would be unjust to interfere with present proprietors. The injustice is in not interfering, in permitting private speculators to monopolize the public wealth, to possess the high roads of the country.
& Adding nine millions a year to the present interest would pay off the whole Debt in thirty years. But, considering how often the creditors have been paid already, continuing the present payments for thirty years more would be a very handsome composition,
Who cares to calculate it now? Then as now it must be paid; and no pennywisdom will be an educational economy.
I do not enter here into any lesser questions of saving in this or the other branch of the public service. Doubtless many are to be effected, and the service be no worse. But it is not little economies which can help our need. A million or more is of little consequence. The public expenditure will have to be altogether reorganized in accordance with republican requirements. But even allow. ing that the Republic might be as costly as the Monarchy, I submit to our political economists these three broad propositions :
1—The settlement of the National Debt, by Terminable Annuities, to be paid out of the profits of Mines and Railways : similar compensation being given to the present ' proprietors; the present railway-fares being also considerably reduced.
2—The consolidation of all charges for the maintenance and education of the Youth of the Country in one national system : with a saving to the public of the difference between wholesale and retail management.
3—The reduction of our war-establishment to a cost of five millions ; thereby enabling the public service (excepting education, but includiug a sufficiency for the infirm and aged) to be provided for at a maximum of FIFTEEN MILLIONS, to be raised by one direct and uniform tax or rent-charge of five shillings for every acre of cultivable land.
I believe indeed that this sum of fifteen millions would be far more than sufficiert for all the ordinary service of the State. I set it down as the very highest figure. The one tax of five shillings an acre would be scarcely felt by men freed from all tithes, poor-rates, and exorbitant rents. There would, of course, also be local taxation for local purposes, --improvements, police, bye-roads, etc., -to be determined by each locality. But this enters not into the general question.
It seems to me that such a measure of financial reform would be immediately feasible in the Republic, under the direct sovereignty of the People.
I have put down the cost of collecting this one tax at the rate of collecting one tax now: it might however be much less. Let the tax be made payable on certain given days, with a grace of so many days, at the District Banks. If not brought there within the time, by the Landlord, (the holder directly from the State), process would issue against the occupied. And one receipt for the tax being the only legal title to possession of the land, the landlord by omitting payment, would forfeit all hold upon his tenant. This in the case of subletting. There would be no difficulty with those holding directly from the State. With them the tax would be their rent.
i See Organization of Labour, page 121, for the way in which rents might be kept down. Tithes would be abolished, the expences of the Organization of Religious Worship being paid for out of the revenues of the State. Of the poor-rates I have already spoken.
'You do not sufficiently bethink you, my republican friend! Our ugliest anomalies are done by universal suffrage, not by patent.'
And if so, I will get prefer my own ugliness to being ugly by attorney. I will even sin for myself: and so have at least a chance of repentance and attainment of health! But the ugliest of all anamolies l' Is it not that very attorneyship’which pretends to be handsome for others, your self-patented kingship or governorship, which thinks it has found out God's blunder,—the blunder of giving souls to all men, --souls, capabilities of growth. There is no growth by power of attorney.
John ‘Pigsouled,' be he never so piggish, cannot be saved by John Russell, -nay, nor by Thomas Carlyle. God's law is that he save himself, whatever the difficulty. A sad error of Providence, Mr. Carlyle! altogether ugly and anomalous perhaps ; but- since it is so : What might your Reverence advise? A reformation of Downing Street,' some new patent King Compost from the old Cess-pool, the Right Honourable Carlyle-Charlemagne-Russell as Prime Minister, ‘Beneficient Whips ' in ordinary, and heroic arrangement of our troughs and order of grunting? An excellent unanomalous recipe of salvation, may it please the Pigs !
ROBERT BLUM was born at Cologne, on the Rhine. His father was a cooper. The family were so poor, that they had no means of educating the boy; enough if he could learn to work : at an early age therefore he was apprenticed to a tinker. This occupation was, however, so little to bis taste, that he left it, to become errand-boy to one Mr. Ringelhardt, the manager of a theatre. Here he learned many things: reading, writing ; something, it is likely, from witnessing the representations of the dramas of the German Poets. So that by and bye Ringelhardt employed him as a secretary, afterwards as money-taker. The boy was manifestly a scholar and to be depended on. With Ringelhardt and his Company he sojourned in several German towns, selling tickets at the theatredoor; and thus at last became an inhabitant of Leipsic: Ringelhardt being for many years a successful manager there.
Blum first made himself known as a good speaker at dinner parties and such liberal meetings as in those days were allowed in Germany. The Saxon liberals found him useful, and got for him a small property in the city, sufficient to enable him to become a citizen and eligible as a town-commissioner. He was elected; and soon rose to be the leader of the liberal party in that body. But neither