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So, too, is it in Russia — the tendency there being, everywhere, towards a limitation of the proportion of personal service due to both proprietor and government, for the use of land, and towards the substitution of direct and certain demands, for the indirect and uncertain ones heretofore in use.*
Look where we may, among the advancing nations of the world, we find a diminution in the proportion of the product of labor and land, required for the maintenance of government, accompanied by a growing tendency towards an honest appeal to reasoning men for the payment of direct taxes, and towards an abandonment of the system which looks to filching from them a large proportion of the products of their labor.
$ 12. The more rapid the circulation, the greater is the tendency in the direction above described — the value of land and man increasing, in the direct ratio of increase in the rapidity with which consumption follows production. The slower the circulation, the larger is the proportion taken by gorernments, and the greater is the tendency towards indirect taxation — the first lookPrussia, they sent deputation after deputation to Frederic William, to assure him of their support; in one province the peasant proprietors elected his brother as their representative; and in others they declared, by petition after petition forwarded to the chamber, and by the results of the elections, how strongly they were opposed to the anarchical party in Berlin.”- KAY: Social Condition of the people of Englund and of Europe, vol. i. pp. 33, 273.
* The free peasants of Russia constitute, as yet, a small class, but they live “as free and happy men, upon their own land; are active, frugal, and, without exception, well off. This they must be, for considerable means are necessary for the purchase of their freedom; and, once free, and in possession of a farm of their own, their energy and industry, manifested even in a state of slavery, are redoubled by the enjoyment of personal liberty, and their earnings naturally increase in a like measure.
“The second class, the crown peasants, are far better off (setting aside, of course, the consciousness of freedom) than the peasants of Germany. They must furnish their quota of recruits; but that is their only material burden. Besides that, they annually pay to the crown a sum of five roubles (about four shillings) for each male person of the household. Supposing the family to include eight working men, which is no small number for a farm, the yearly tribute paid amounts to thirty-two shillings. And what a farm that must be which employs eight men all the year round! In what country of civilised Europe has the peasant so light a burden to bear? How much heavier those which press upon the English farmer, the French, the German, and above all the Austrian, who often gives up three-fourths of his harvest in taxes. If the crown peasant be so fortunate as to be settled in the neighborhood of a large town, his prosperity soon exceeds that even of the Altenburg husbandmen, said to be the richest in all Germany. On the other hand, he can never purchase his freedom: hitherto, at least, no law of the crown has granted him this privilege."-JERMANN: Pictures from St. Petersburgh,
ing towards the Man, recognised by Adam Smith as the subject of social science; the last towards the slave — the subject treated of by Messrs. Malthus and Ricardo — required, as he is, to give to his various masters, a constantly increasing proportion of a constantly diminishing quantity yielded by the earth.
How small were the rights of person in Jamaica, and in the other British islands, is shown by the fact, that, out of 2,000,000 of persons imported, less than 800,000 were found existing at the date of emancipation - all the remainder, together with the millions that should have resulted from their natural increase, having been hurried from existence by the driver's lash. How little the rights of property have been respected, is shown in the adoption of a series of measures, resulting in the total ruin of nearly all the persons by whom the land was owned. Seeking the cause of this, we find it in a system that, by limiting the planters to the labors of the field, produced a necessity for making all their exchanges elsewhere -- thus affording an opportunity for taxation, used with such sererity, that the producer perished in the field, while the Englishman who, could he have sold his labor, would gladly have been his customer, was driven to the poorhouse to seek for bread.*
How small has been the security obtained in India, in return for taxes paid, is shown in the gradual disappearance of the whole class of small proprietors — the men who paid directly to the government — and the substitution of great zemindars, a class of middlemen, through whose hands must pass all the moneys contributed by the people for the service of the State.How miserable is the present condition of the people, is shown in the fact, that it is precisely as we recede from Bengal, the country longest subjected to the Company, we find the Hindoo becoming more and more a Man. I
Throughout the country, the whole system of taxation tends towards stoppage of the circulation the amount of contribution increasing with every additional effort on the part of the laborer, and diminishing as he ceases to apply himself to any pursuit calculated to aid production. Offering, therefore, a premium for inactivity, the result is seen in the payment, as taxes, of a * See ante, vol. i. P. 296.
† Ibid, p. 355. Ibid, p. 356.
Ibid, p. 342.
larger proportion of the produce of land and labor, than in any other country of the world. Inquiring into the cause of this, we find it in the great facts, that the circulation of society has been annihilated, and that the cotton which leaves him at a penny a pound, comes back at a cost of thirty pence— the whole difference having been absorbed, on its passage from his little field to the bodies of himself, his wife, and children.
Turning next to Ireland, we find a steady decline in the value of land and labor, accompanied by an increase in the proportion of taxation to production, strikingly manifested in the extension over her, of a tax on profits that, when Ireland was comparatively prosperous, was limited to Britain alone. Desiring to understand the cause of this, the reader may find it in the facts before referred to, that Irish food and wool are so heavily taxed on their road from the field in which they are produced, to the backs on which the cloth is worn, that circulation of labor, or of its products, can scarcely be said to have existence.
Coming now to the United States, we find the government contracting debts in the free-trade period from 1818 to 1825 — paying them off in the protective one from 1826 to 1834 — recontracting them in the free-trade one from 1836 to 1842—pay. ing them off in the protective one from 1843 to 1846 tracting them again between 1847 and 1850 — and then again paying them off, by means of revenues derived from enormous importations, based upon private debts, requiring an annual payment of interest, to an amount greater than the average export of food to all the world. Indirect taxation, and interference with commerce, having now become recognised as the proper and permanent source of revenue, the result is seen in the fact, that the public expenditure has quintupled, in a period within which the population has little more than doubled.
Lastly, arriving in England, we find expenditures increasing as profits are more and more taking the place of production, and as taxes on consumption more and more replace the few direct ones which previously had existed. At the date of the repeal of the house-tax, the average amount of contributions for the support of government was £46,000,000. Since then, it has grown rapidly — having reached an average of £48,000,000 in the period from 1836 to 1841 – £53,000,000 in that from
1844 to 1849 – £54,000,000 in 1854 — and £71,000,000 in 1856.
Look where we may, we shall find evidence that, as men become more free, the proportion of taxation to production tends to decline — that diminished proportion tending, more and more, to assume the form of a direct and honest application on the part of those who govern, to those who are governed, with constant growth in the feeling of responsibility on the part of those by whom the public revenue is expended. Where, on the contrary, man declines in freedom, the proportion grows, with constant increase in the necessity for privately abstracting from the pocket of the contributor what dare not be asked directly; and as constant decline in the feeling of responsibility on the part of governors towards those who are governed — abundant proof of this, being found in the phenomena which now meet our view, in Ireland and India, Jamaica and Turkey, Virginia and Carolina, Great Britain and the United States.
§ 13. Why not, then, it will be asked, at once abolish all the duties of excise, duties of customs, and other interferences with commerce-establishing perfect and entire freedom of intercourse between man and man, throughout the world ? Such is the idea at times suggested by men who hold, that the happiness and prosperity of men are to be advanced by extending the dominion of trade, and who see, in the growth of the number and size of ships, the most conclusive evidence of that advance.
As well, however, might they ask – Why not give to each and every man a farm ? Why not make all men proprietors ? Why not, at once, quadruple the wealth of the community, and thus enable every member of it to feel himself enriched ? In the natural course of things, land tends to become divided ; men's faculties tend to become developed; wealth tends to increase; the division between the few and the many tends towards the production of equality; and taxation tends to become more direct. All these phenomena, however, are evidences of civilization - appearing, invariably, in all communities in which the circulation increases in rapidity, and disappearing as the circulation dies away. The more the demand for human force tends to become instant upon the existence of the power to produce it, the greater is the tendency towards that state of things in which direct taxation becomes possible. The longer the interval elapsing between production and consumption, the larger are the proportions borne by movable to immovable capital, and the greater must be the tendency towards seeking to obtain, by indirect and deceptive means, the supplies that cannot be directly asked for. In proof of this, we beg the reader to turn again to the diagram in the previous pages, with a view to see where, on the left, he can find the means of direct taxation. Man is there a mere slave, and land is so utterly valueless, that hundreds of square miles would be given in exchange for a single dollar. Coming nearer, we find the government purchasing millions of acres, for an amount of money that would be refused in France or England, were it offered in payment for & single property. Where, then, are the subjects of direct taxation ?
Passing further east, the margin for profits decreases, with constant diminution in the power of indirect taxation. Land and labor steadily assume larger proportions — the slave of the earlier period being replaced by the freeman of the later one, and the wretched owners of vast bodies of land, being replaced by thousands, and tens of thousands, of wealthy farmers, owners of the soil they cultivate. The man and his land may now be taxed; but, before they are so, the freeman must be consulted, as to the mode of taxation to be adopted — the extent to which it may be carried - and the purposes to which the proceeds are to be applied.
Taxation tends to become direct, as men become free; and the greater that tendency, the more rapid is the diminution borne by the claims of government, to the power of the community to meet them. Men become free, as the prices of raw materials tend more and more to approximate the former rising and the latter falling. That approximation takes place in the ratio of the existence of the power of association and combination — that, in turn, being found in the ratio of the diversity in the demand for labor. The more perfect the society — the more various the demands for mental and physical faculties the more rapid must be the circulation, the greater the power of accumulation, the