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larger the proportion borne by fixed to movable capital, and the greater the power to obtain, through direct taxation, the means of meeting those expenditures required for maintaining order, and thus securing all in the peaceful enjoyment of the rights of person and of property. Such are the tendencies in all the countries following in the lead of France—land and labor there rising in value, as prices more and more approximate, and direct taxation tending, there, to the supercession of that which is indirect. The reverse of this, is found in all of those which follow in the lead of England. India gives more cotton for less iron, lead, tin, copper, and gold, than she did forty years since. Land and labor declining, therefore, in value, her government becomes, from year to year, more dependent on salt and opium monopolies for support. How, under such circumstances, attempt to abolish indirect taxation ? Jamaica gives more sugar for all the metallic products, than she did forty years since, while having less to sell. Portugal, Turkey, and Ireland, are in the same condition—all having less to sell, and obtaining lower prices for what is sold. So, too, is it in the United States, all of whose rude products have declined steadily in price, during a period of forty years; whether measured by copper or iron, tin or lead, silver or gold. Throughout the country, the proportion of movable to fixed property is a steadily increasing one — producing a constant increase in the necessity for looking to interferences with commerce for the means of obtaining revenue. So was it, in the period from 1817 to 1824, and in that from 1835 to 1842 – both of which are now recognised as the periods when the policy of the country was directed towards the maintenance of such interference, as a part of the systematic policy of the government— protection being then regarded merely as an incident attendant upon the acquisition of revenue. So was it not, in the periods from 1828 to 1834, and 1842 to 1847 — the demand for the means of supporting the government having then assumed a more direct form — protection having then become the distinct object of the tariffs of those periods, leaving the question of revenue to occupy the incidental place. Land and labor then rapidly increased in value; and for the reason, that the prices of rude and finished commodities steadily approximated to each other—thus affording the highest evidence of that approach towards civilization, required for enabling a government to apply directly to the people for all the means of its support. Commerce becomes free, as indirect taxation ceases to exist. The power of indirect taxation diminishes, as the farmer is more and more freed from the oppressive tax of transportation. That tax diminishes, as the faculties of man are more developed, and as the power of association more and more arises. That it may arise, and may extend itself, diversity in the modes of employment is an indispensable requisite. The production of such effects having been the intent and meaning of the protective tariffs of 1828 and 1842, and those effects having been realised, not only in this country, but in all of those which follow in the lead of France, adopting the policy of Colbert, the experience of the world may be adduced in proof of the assertion, that the road to perfect freedom of commerce is to be found in the adoption of measures tending to the creation of a domestic market, and to the consequent relief of the farmer from that first and most oppressive of all taxes — the one resulting from the necessity for effecting change of place. Such, precisely, was the idea of Adam Smith, when enlarging upon the advantages to commerce, resulting from combining tons of food with hundreds of pounds of wool, in the form of pieces of cloth, that could so readily be transported to the most distant quarters of the world.
§ 14. The more perfect the commerce among its people, the greater is the power for honest and direct taxation, and the greater the strength of the State. Commerce grows as employments become diversified, as individuality becomes developed, and as agriculture becomes a science. That the countries which follow in the school of Colbert, are becoming stronger, has been proved by the facts, that Russia maintained her credit during an exhausting war, while Prussia maintained neutrality, in despite of every effort of the Western Powers. That those which follow in the train of the economists of England, are becoming weaker, is proved by the cases of Turkey, Portugal, Ireland, and the Indies of both the West and East. It is further proved, by all the experience of the United States — comparing the States of the South and West, with those of the North and East, or the union with itself, at different periods. Florida and Mississippi follow in the train of England, and stand, at the present moment, in a state of repudiation. California now does the same, while Massachusetts enjoys a credit equal with that of any country of the world. The Federal Government extinguished its debt, in 1835, by help of the tariff of 1828; whereas, in 1842, with no war upon its hands, it was unable to borrow at any rate of interest. The strength of the State grows with growth in the value of land and labor, and with increase in the proportion borne by fixed to movable capital. American policy tends towards increasing the movable capital at the expense of that which is fixed, and hence the growing weakness of the State.
§ 15. The views thus presented, differing wholly from those of the Ricardo-Malthusian school—trade being there regarded as first among the pursuits of man, and slavery, as the goal at which he must arrive— we may, for a moment, turn to one of its most distinguished professors, for the reasons offered in support of the doctrines therein taught. “Indirect taxes,” says Mr. McCulloch, “have been the greatest favorites of princes and subjects;” “there being,” as he thinks, “very sufficient reasons for the preference”—constituting, as they do, “an ingenious plan” for extracting from the people a portion of their substance, leaving their “prejudices” untouched.* In support of this view, he quotes from the Marquis Garnier, who highly approves of filching the means of maintaining governments—it being “in the midst of the profusion of the repast, that the taxes have ever been and still are paid —the public treasury thus finding a source of profit in the provocatives to expense excited by the gaiety of feasts.” This is, certainly, a very proper argument, to be used by those who regard man as a mere beast of burden—an animal that must be fed, that will procreate, and that can be made to work; but, how far it is a proper one to be addressed to the thinking MAN–the being created in the image of his Maker, and endowed with faculties qualifying him for obtaining dominion over nature, the reader may determine for himself. Mr. McCulloch is opposed to direct taxation in general, but more especially to taxes on land, as “perpetual premiums” to “those who had been idle and improvident”—leaving their properties unimproved; while their neighbors had been causing theirs to produce twenty, thirty, or forty bushels to the acre, where five, six, or eight, had been, before, the usual crop. The reply to this would seem to be found in the fact, that the most rapid augmentation in the productiveness of agriculture, recorded in British history, is that of the half century preceding the abolition of the land-tax—that period, too, having been marked by a great improvement in the condition of the agricultural laborer. Since then, direct taxes have disappeared, but the rental of the land of the United Kingdom has remained, for forty years, nearly stationary; while the condition of those who plough the land has much deteriorated.* Turning to the continent, we find land increasing rapidly in value, where taxation is becoming more and more direct, while diminishing, in all of those in which it is becoming more indirect. Looking to Italy and Greece of ancient times, we see direct taxation to have been in use when land was rising in value, and man was becoming free—indirect taxation having taken its place, as land became consolidated, and man became re-enslaved. Mr. McCulloch's theory would seem, therefore, to be little more than a record of the phenomena observed in all countries, in which, as now in Britain, land was becoming monopolised, and small proprietors were disappearing from the land. The owner of large estates can afford to be “idle and improvident;” small proprietors cannot. Taxes on land being thus objectionable, Mr. McCulloch finds no substitute in those which might be imposed upon stock in banks and insurance companies—holding, that they “would really be a tax on the property of some of the most useful and industrious classes of the community.” Such taxes, tempting many persons to keep their capital idle at their banker's, or in the strongbox, would, as he thinks, do an injury to the industrious classes, without securing any corresponding advantage to the State.”f * See ante, vol. ii. p. 95. The land of England was assessed, in 1814–15, at £34,330,463, and that of Scotland at £5,075,242—making a total of £39,405,705. In 1848, the total was £47,982,221. In the same time, the
* McCULLoch : Taxation and Funding, p. 147.
Taxes on the accumulations of the past, tending, thus, in Mr. McCulloch's view, to produce idleness and improvidence, he turns, necessarily, to interferences with commerce, and taxes on the labor of the present, for the means of making working people more industrious. It being, as he thinks, “abundantly certain, that taxes, when judiciously imposed, and not carried to an oppressive height, occasion an increase of industry and economy,” “he finds, in contributions by malt, beer, cloth, and other articles, on their way from the producer to the consumer, “the fairest, most equal, and least burdensome of taxes”—quoting Arthur Young in support of the idea, that the Dutch, “deservedly esteemed the wisest nation in Europe,” have been “enabled to preserve their industry,” under heavy burdens, “principally by their having adopted this mode of taxation.”f It may, however, as he says, “be doubted, whether the taxes on tobacco and spirits have added materially to the wages of the laborer.”f Equally, as we think, might it be doubted, if the necessity for carrying all his products to his master, leaving to him the work of distribution, “added materially to the wages” of the slave of Brazil, or Carolina.
The taxation of the United Kingdom, including poor-rates and local expenditures, being, according to Mr. McCulloch, f73,000,000, and largely exceeding the rental of landed property, were the whole confiscated, it would still, as he says, “be necessary to raise several millions a-year by additional taxes.” $ The question, however, is: Would the amount of taxation be one-half of what it now is, or even one-third of it, had those who have directed the affairs of government, been compelled, at all times, to go directly to the people for the revenue they needed ? Would the American Revolution, or the series of wars that terminated at Waterloo, have taken place, had it not been that ministers were, by means of the system advocated by Mr. McCulloch, enabled to filch from the people, the contributions that they dared not ask from the holders of fixed capital * Had there been no such wars, should we now see Great Britain — wielding, by means of her machinery, a power of hundreds of millions of men — struggling under a weight of
* On Tazation and Funding, p. 6. Ibid, p. 241. t Ibid, p. 93. Ibid, p. 51.