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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/491

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PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.

a duty of eighty francs per hectolitre upon all high-grade liquors imported, and by a graduated scale of duties upon all containing less than seventy-two per cent of alcohol. No one except the Federal Government is permitted to import alcohol for industrial purposes, because the reducing process must undergo inspection in order to prevent fraud. In getting its supply for the home market the Government may purchase three fourths of the demand for all kinds of spirits anywhere it chooses. The other fourth, as mentioned above, must be of home manufacture, and the Government has not exceeded that limit, because spirits can be bought cheaper abroad than at home."

The financial operations of this branch of administration in 1891 amounted to about 13,660,000 francs, from which the net revenue was 5,830,000 francs ($1,165,000). "This net gain was chiefly due to the mercantile profit on liquors for drinking purposes, since industrial spirits must be sold at cost. Hence, as a business enterprise, the monopoly is certainly a success. When we inquire into the moral and social results, there is at present less that is tangible to be observed. The expectation of the promoters of the scheme was that the evils of drunkenness would be reduced, both by decreasing consumption and providing a purer quality of drink. This latter end is obtained by Government inspection, not only of the monopoly distilleries, but also of the smaller establishments manufacturing free products."

"In the matter of consumption there would seem to have been a decrease. In 1885, before the introduction of the monopoly, the total demand of distilled liquors for drinking purposes was about 150,000 hectolitres, while in 1889 the amount sold by the Federal Government for such use was 67,342 hectolitres. But it would not be safe to say that the country had become temperate to this extent, for there is strong reason to believe that much of the reduced alcohol intended for the arts is either purified again and used for drinking, or consumed outright in its mixed state. The use of liquor will by no means be brought under control so long as the distillation of low grades of fruit spirits and the manufacture of malt drinks are under no restriction. No one can tell whether the apparent decrease in consumption is not merely a diversion of appetite to applejack and absinthe, or perhaps to an increased use of wine and beer."

Small amounts to the credit of the Federal revenue also accrue from the postal and telegraph service, from the lease of public domains, the monopoly of the manufacture and sale of gunpowder, from military exemptions, and the like; but the aggregate income from these sources is comparatively unimportant. The powder monopoly at one time yielded considerable revenue, but when new and more powerful explosives came into favor the