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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/497

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PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.

is only mitigated by the aid. that comes through the extraordinary pension fund established and distributed by the British Colonial government. The Duke of Argyll, who has been Secretary of State for India, tells us that "those only who have had any share in the government of India can know what the anxiety is arising out of such conditions of population"; and extensive emigration is now advocated as the best remedial action that can be taken. Making allowance for different standpoints of observation, Mr. Keay and Sir Richard Temple were, therefore, both right in their conclusions.D. A. W.

 

To the Reader: With the publication of the chapter in this number of the Popular Science Monthly on "The Tax Experiences of Switzerland," the first part of the plan laid out by the writer for discussing the Principles of Taxation comes to a conclusion. This plan, apart from an introductory survey of the subject, and a review of the interesting and most instructive tax experiences of the United States consequent on the civil war, and with which the writer (as chairman of the United States Revenue Commission in 1865, and as United States Special Commissioner of Revenue from 1866 to 1870), was officially and closely associated (Chapters I and II), was to set forth the position of taxation in literature and history; and more especially to narrate the most notable experiences of different countries and nations in compelling contributions or exactions for the support of the state from the people governed, and the far-reaching and important results that have been contingent upon and have followed the different policies that have been adopted for such a purpose. The underlying idea that suggested this plan was as follows:

Every person of ordinary intelligence, if questioned, will probably admit that the subject of taxation is one of the most important that can concern the masses of the people; and that their well-being and the continuance of good government, and even of civilization itself, are more dependent on the involved power of its administration and discretionary incidence than upon any other agency—a power so great that its right exercise in even the smallest degree, according to the late Chief-Justice Marshall, "involves the right to destroy." And yet the same citizen will probably say that the subject, as ordinarily presented and discussed, is so dry and uninteresting as to be exceedingly unattractive, and even repellent; that the conflict of opinion on the part of those who through study claim to understand it is so diverse that any general concurrence of opinion in regard to fundamental principles is impossible; and, finally, that all experience shows that by reason of this state of things mercenary and political considerations necessarily predominate in the construction of any general system of taxation.