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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/52

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.
By DAVID A. WELLS, LL.D., D. C. L.,

CORRESPONDANT DE L'INSTITUT DE FRANCE, ETC.

VII.—RULES OR MAXIMS ESSENTIAL TO AN ADMINISTRATION OF RIGHTFUL TAXATION UNDER A CONSTITUTIONAL OR FREE GOVERNMENT. PART II.

IN continuance of the discussion entered upon in the preceding part of this chapter, as to whether under a constitutional and free government, and in virtue also of the natural and inalienable rights of the people governed, a state has a lawful right to levy and expend taxes in furtherance of private interests, more especially by way of bounties, the following additional points may be worthy of consideration:

Probably no better exposition of the limitation on the exercise of the taxing power incumbent on a free government professing a regard for the rights of the people, and more especially on the Federal Government of the United States, under its Constitution, in respect to the granting of payment of bounties for the promotion of the private interests of any of its citizens, can be found than the following, accredited to Justice Thomas M. Cooley:

"It is not in the power of the state, in my opinion, under the name of a bounty, or under any other cover or subterfuge, to furnish the capital to set private parties up in any kind of business, or to subsidize their business after they have entered upon it. A bounty law of which this is the real nature, is void, whatever may be the pretense on which it may be enacted. The rig-ht to hold out pecuniary inducements to the faithful performance of public duty in dangerous or responsible positions stands upon a different footing altogether; nor have I any occasion to question the right to pay rewards for the destruction of wild beasts and other public pests, a provision of this character being a mere police regulation. But the discrimination by the state between different classes of occupations, and the favoring of one at the expense of the rest, whether that one be farming or banking, merchandising or milling, printing or railroading, is not legitimate legislation, and is an invasion of that equality of right and privilege which is a maxim in state government. When the door is once open to it there is no line at which we can stop and say with confidence that thus far we may go with safety and propriety, but no further.

"Every honest employment is honorable; it is beneficial to the public; it deserves encouragement. The more successful we can make it the more does it generally subserve the public good. But it is not the business of the state to make discriminations in favor of one class against another, or in favor of one employment against another. The state can have no favorites. Its business is to protect the industry of all, and give all the benefits of equal laws. It can not compel an unwilling minority to submit to taxation in order that it may keep upon its feet any business that can not stand alone."