Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/150

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authorities as unfitting the tax for use by the federal government, and its application has been denounced in many quarters as an invasion of the proper field of state taxation.

In the efforts now being put forth to establish a federal income tax the same tendency is to be seen. While it can not be denied that the federal government should have the authority in time of need to levy a federal income tax, yet it is distinctly questionable as to the wisdom of such a tax in time of peace for federal purposes. The problems which confront the states at the present time are indeed serious. Upon them fall all of the burdens of maintaining local government, and these, with the growth of wider ideas regarding the development of society, constantly tend to increase rather than diminish. The states are now called upon to develop extensive educational systems, to care for the insane, to punish criminals, to maintain courts, to preserve order, to build roads, and support the poor, besides erecting public buildings, and in the municipalities providing water, light, paving and the other necessary improvements of modern towns and villages. To have the federal government, therefore, step aside and reach out into the states for additional funds for federal support means interference with the states' fiscal systems and in the long run the weakening of their financial power. In the customs duties and the internal revenue, the federal government has every facility to secure sufficient revenue for the conduct of its business.

What has already been said regarding the history of federal legislation in connection with the interstate commerce act, the national bank act, the pure food and dairy legislation, and the tariff indicates clearly the slowness with which congress meets the problems of legislation, and how difficult it is to secure modification of a law by a body so overwhelmed with legislation for a country as big as America. In nearly every instance the states began the legislation, and carried it forward to a point where it was necessary to look to congress for some wider interpretation in order that relief might be given. The work which congress has done, while commendable in many cases, shows clearly that it can not act intelligently in every instance because of its distance from the problem, and that while it does work out in general some specific lines of action, it can not by the very nature of things meet local needs.

Sixteen years after the introduction of the Began bill came the interstate-commerce act, and for as many more no modification of the law was made, despite the insistent demands for such changes. The national bank act remained practically unchanged after the date of its passage until the year 1900. Examples of this kind go to show that federal legislation is attended by many disadvantages. Undoubtedly congress can deal with large problems on general principles, but on that very account it is often unwise for it to attempt to work out experiments and changes in the law.