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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/762

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Spain from necessity has mortgaged her taxes to the bank, with the task of collecting them.

Of the same general character are the state lotteries, of which some few and quite important instances may still be found in action. Of the immorality of these instruments there can be little doubt, and there is quite as unanimous an opinion as to their inefficiency as fiscal instruments. Yet it is only within very recent years that state lotteries have been discarded even in the most advanced countries. The machinery of lotteries has often been modified, but, no matter how altered in details, they all have appealed to the love of games of chance. Adam Smith asserted that the "absurd presumption" of men in their own good fortune is even more universal than the overweening conceit which the greater part of men have in their own abilities.[1] Yet another assertion of the same writer is as true: "The world neither ever saw, nor ever will see, a perfectly fair lottery, or one in which the whole gain compensated the whole loss." Where the state undertakes it, there is a profit generally assured to the state, but that profit is by no means certain, and can not make good the demoralization introduced among the people. State lotteries are still a part of the revenue system in Italy and Austria (proper), where the receipts are important, but show a decided tendency to diminish; Hungary and Denmark, where they are of little moment; and in Spain, where they are retained because of the general incapacity of the administration to reach other and more profitable sources of revenue. The experience of the State of Louisiana in connection with a State lottery is too recent to require examination. It is not probable that once abandoned such an instrument for obtaining money from the people will be revived, save as a last resort.

The state monopoly in the manufacture and sale of an article for fiscal purposes holds a place in European countries of high importance, and is met elsewhere under conditions not so favorable to its maintenance. As an example of the latter may be cited the colonial policy of the Dutch in their possessions in the East. After the termination of the trading companies, the Government undertook the entire control of the colonies, and sought to make them a source of revenue. The natives were to be taxed, but, having little of their own to be taxed, and practicing no occupation that could of its own volition become a profitable source of revenue, the state undertook to organize industry, and, by creating an opportunity for employing the labor of the natives, to receive the profits of production for its own uses. The native chiefs were made "masters of industry" and collectors of the revenue; and a certain part of the labor of the natives, one day in every five, was decreed to the state. In order to derive


  1. Wealth of Nations, vol. i, p. 112 (Rogers's edition).