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PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.

to explain the guinea-pig's molars; and a microscope and a frog's leg made real to them the circulation of the blood.

In spite of the time required for the physiology, the fifth-year children have about thirty lessons on minerals; the sixth-year, the same number on plants; and the seventh-year, on animals; and it would be difficult to decide which of these subjects rouses their greatest enthusiasm.

 

PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.[1]
By the Late Hon. DAVID A. WELLS.

XX.—THE LAW OF THE DIFFUSION OF TAXES.

PART I.

NO attempt ought to be made to construct or formulate an economically correct, equitable, and efficient system of taxation which does not give full consideration to the method or extent to which taxes diffuse themselves after their first incidence. On this subject there is a great difference of opinion, which has occasioned, for more than a century, a vast and never-ending discussion on the part of economic writers. All of this, however, has resulted in no generally accepted practical conclusions; has been truthfully characterized by a leading French economist (M. Parieu) as marked in no small part by the "simplicity of ignorance," and from a somewhat complete review (recently published[2]) of the conflicting theories advanced by participants one rises with a feeling of weariness and disgust.

The majority of economists, legislators, and the public generally incline to the opinion that taxes mainly rest where they are laid, and are not shifted or diffused to an extent that requires any recognition


  1. It is fortunate that Mr. Wells had practically completed his essays on taxation before death put an end to his activity. The manuscript of two chapters was found among his papers—one on the Best Methods of Taxation, and the other on the Law of the Diffusion of Taxes, begun in this number. The first manuscript has some pages missing, and it has been thought best to postpone its publication, in the hope that the missing pages may be found. It is evident that the last touches were yet to be put upon the chapter on the diffusion of taxes—a chapter that was to sum up the theory of taxation developed by the writer. So much of that summary is contained in it as to make the meaning of Mr. Wells unmistakable, and its publication is further amply justified by the number of practical illustrations and happy application of theory to fact, in the selection and explanation of which the author excelled. The entire series, which has been running in the Popular Science Monthly for more than three years, will now be collected in a volume—a worthy memorial to one whose powers of popular exposition of abstract problems placed him among the first of economists in the United States.
  2. On the Shifting and Incidence of Taxation, by Prof. Edwin R. Seligman, 1892.