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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 48/March 1896/Principles of Taxation: In Literature and History V

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 48‎ | March 1896

APPLETONS’

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

MARCH, 1896.



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

CORRESPONDANT DE L'INSTITUT DE FRANCE, ETC.

II.—THE PLACE OF TAXATION IN LITERATURE AND HISTORY.
PART II.

TAXATION IN Ancient Greece.—In Athens, according to Boeckh, the revenues of the state were derived from receipts from the public domains, including mines, partly from taxes analogous to our "customs" and "excise," and some taxes upon industry and persons which only extended to aliens and slaves; from fines and justice fees, from the proceeds of confiscated property, and from tribute from allied or subject states. All exports and imports into Athens, at one period, were subject to a small duty of two per cent; and in addition to this, foreign ships lying in the harbor paid a small fee, as did also aliens for the privilege of selling commodities, arriving by sea, in certain designated market places. "A special tax was also levied upon the proprietors or occupants of houses, the doors or windows of which opened outward on the public footway. And, as throwing further light on the social system of ancient Greece, we have the statement on good authority that the Greeks, having no pockets, used to leave valuable articles in sealed packets, trusting to the laws which punished the violation of a seal. Direct taxes," according to Boeckh, "imposed upon the soil, upon industry, or upon persons, excepting in cases of emergency, were looked upon in Greece as despotic and arbitrary; it being considered as a necessary element of freedom that the property of a citizen, as well as his occupation, should be exempt from all taxation, except when a free community taxed itself, which, however, is obviously an essential part of liberty." Poll taxes were exacted by the Athenian state, but as such taxes were considered ignominious and as implying subjugation, they were only assessed upon slaves or subjugated foreigners; and failure to pay was regarded in the light of a capital offense.

The income of Athens from fines appears to have been considerable, and to have constituted a singular and permanent feature of the fiscal policy of the state. Its method of assessment may be best illustrated by examples. Thus, if duly authorized officials did not hold certain assemblages, according to rule, or properly conduct the appointed business, they had each to pay a thousand drachmas ($200). If an orator conducted himself indecorously in a public assembly, he could be fined fifty drachmas (ten dollars) for each offense, which might be raised to a higher sum at the pleasure of the people. A woman conducting herself improperly in the streets paid a similar penalty. If a woman went to Eleusis in a carriage, she subjected herself to a fine of a talent ($1,180). In the case of wealthy or notable persons, fines for omissions or commissions in respect to conduct were made much greater, and so more productive of revenue; and there were very few notable or wealthy citizens of Athens who under the rule of demagogues, and through specious accusations of offenses against the state or the gods, escaped the payment of heavy fines; the experiences of Miltiades, Themistocles, Aristides, Demosthenes, Pericles, Cleon, and Timotheus being cases in point.[1] Every person who failed to pay a fine owing to the state was reckoned as a public debtor, and was subject to imprisonment and a practical denial of citizenship; Miltiades, the victor at Marathon, for example, having been cast into prison (where he afterward died) through an inability to pay a fine assessed against him of fifty talents.[2]

Another curious feature of the fiscal policy of Athens was an indirect augmentation of the public revenues, by diminishing the public expenditures by an institution which was essentially one of differential exaction (miscalled taxation), and was known as "liturgies." They consisted in the conferring upon ambitious and wealthy citizens certain honorary public offices to which nothing of salary or compensation was attached, but which entailed large expenditures for the entertainment of the people or defense of the country. The acceptance of these offices was compulsory; parsimony in expenditure on the part of the holder exposed him to public censure; and the institution undoubtedly found favor with the masses as a method of dividing the property or consuming the incomes of the wealthy. The system of liturgies was not, however, peculiar or restricted to the Athenian state. It existed in the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and also to a certain extent in Rome, where the persons accepting the office of ædile, whose business it was to take care of public edifices and superintend public festivals, were expected to appropriate large sums from their private resources for the convenience and amusement of the people. The office of ædile in Rome, which was one of great honor, was thus only made accessible to the very wealthy. But as the office was, however, in the direct line of preferment to some lucrative office in the provinces, the expenditures of its occupant were probably regarded in the light of an investment, from which more than complete remuneration was to be expected in the future. The principle involved in the liturgies would also seem to find recognition and exemplification in modern times, and under a different civilization, but in accordance with the same human nature; as, for example, in Great Britain, which by requiring members of Parliament to serve gratuitously, virtually restricts membership in that body to wealthy citizens; and also in the United States, which, by paying her judges and most of her other great officers of state inconsiderable and inadequate salaries, practically reduces the cost of her Government, and virtually makes merchandise of her honors by entailing a part of the proper expenses of such offices upon every first-class incumbent of them.[3]

The comparatively small expenditures of the Athenian state should also to be considered in connection with their revenue requirements. Thus, Mr. Grote estimates the annual expenditure of Athens, in the time of Pericles, at one thousand talents, or 81,180,000; and, according to Mr. Boeckh, the revenues of the city never exceeded two thousand talents, or $2,360,000. The annual tax paid on the property of Demosthenes by his guardians amounted to only one fifth of one per cent of its valuation; and as, before the Peloponnesian war, the receipts from the silver mines owned by the state were so abundant that the surplus revenue was divided among the citizens of Athens, it is evident that for a time there was no necessity for taxation.

Taxation in Rome.—Up to the time of Servius Tullius taxation in Rome consisted of a capitation assessment, arbitrarily fixed, without regard to the means of the individual.[4] After the termination of the last Punic war, and down to nearly the epoch of the Empire—a period of at least one hundred and twenty-five years—the people of Rome were exempt from all direct taxation. This was due to the circumstance that Rome had accumulated great wealth, and was in receipt of an annual revenue from her conquered provinces fully adequate to defray all the expenses of the government, including the military establishment of the state. A large revenue for a considerable period was also derived from the imperial silver mines in Spain. Cicero, who lived before the empire, in one of his epistles to Atticus, laments the possibility of a resort to taxation by the state at some time in the future as something ominous of evil.

One of the first acts, however, of Augustus, after assuming the reins of government, was the gradual institution of an extensive system of taxation. He organized a land tax for the whole empire; and followed it up with what Gibbon terms "an artful assessment" on the real and personal property of the Roman citizens, who, as before shown, had been long exempted from any contributions for the support of the state. A tax of five per cent, or one twentieth, was also imposed on all legacies and successions, which did not apply to objects inherited of less than a specified value ("probably," says Gibbon, "of fifty or a hundred pieces of gold"); nor was it exacted from the nearest of kin on the father's side.[5]

This tax which appears to have been most productive, was one of the most permanent taxes of the empire, and its amount was increased by the successors of Augustus.

Gibbon seems to have been in doubt as to the motive which prompted Augustus to incorporate these new features of taxation in the Roman governmental policy, and suggests a desire to relieve the provinces from their burden of tribute, or to effect the impoverishment of the senate or the "equestrian" (knights) order. A more modern and probably a more correct view is, that Augustus recognized that, as Rome possessed all the known world that she considered worth possessing, the profitable results of further conquests, and the drain of accumulated wealth from subjugated nations, had practically come to an end; that her army henceforth existed mainly for maintaining the integrity of the empire, or for defense; and that for its support, in default of opportunities to plunder, an extensive and rigorous system of taxation had become necessary.

Under the system of taxation established by Augustus and extended by his successors, most of the taxes known to modern times were anticipated by the Romans. Apart from the taxes on land, they had export and import taxes; tolls for passage over bridges; a tax upon salt; a tax in kind upon corn (wheat), barley, wine, oil, meat, and wood; a tax upon the value of manumitted slaves; on sales; and a capitation or poll tax. Of other notable and peculiar Roman taxes was one on the wages of prostitutes; and apart from his wars with the Jews and the building of the Colosseum, the Roman Emperor Vespasian is best known in history as the originator of a tax on urinals.

Excepting possibly the land tax, there does not appear to have been any general and uniform system of taxation for the whole empire. The taxes on imports and exports were not uniform, and there were separate customs districts, each with a tariff of its own, and some with special immunities. Under the reign of Augustus and his successors, duties varying from an eighth to the fortieth part of the value of the commodity were imposed at Rome on every kind of merchandise, "which through a thousand channels flowed to the great center of opulence and luxury; and in whatsoever manner the law was expressed, it was the Roman purchaser and not the provincial merchant that paid the tax."[6]

A general tax (characterized by Gibbon as an excise), and seldom exceeding one per cent was also exacted at Rome on whatever "was sold in the market place, or by public auction, from the most considerable purchase of land and houses to those minute objects which can only derive a value from their infinite multitude and daily consumption." As exports were subject to Roman taxation as well as imports, and as the average rates imposed in both cases were probably low, these forms of taxation appear to have been in the nature of a payment for the privilege of conducting commerce; imposed for the purpose of revenue only, and without the slightest reference to any contingent influences on trade or industry. In fact, the idea of promoting (protecting) industry through taxes on exchanges appears to have found no place in Roman or any other ancient economic history or experience.

In accordance with a practice on the part of the ancient Romans of deifying abstractions—as war, love, navigation, thievery, and the like—we find mention of the Genius of the Custom House, or of Indirect Taxes (genius portorii publici), a divinity that seems to have survived to our own times; inasmuch as many of the curious phenomena that have occurred in connection with modern efforts to prevent free exchanges through the agencies of customs taxation, seem only capable of explanation on the assumption that some occult power has been more potential in shaping economic events in this department of government than any proper exercise of man's reasoning faculties; and that it is the part of wisdom that large sacrifices should be made by the people in order to propitiate this deity.

Throughout the whole course of their history the principal taxes levied by the Romans appear to have been collected through the instrumentality of a class of officials known as "publicans," who paid the government for the privilege of so doing; and who, intrusted with extraordinary powers, were allowed, by way of compensation for their services, to collect and retain as much of additional revenue as they could force or extort from the taxpayers for their individual and private benefit. Such an administration of the publicans necessarily involved and required the employment of a large number of subcontractors and deputies, who, stationed at seaports, on public highways, at the gates of cities, and the market places, examined all goods exported, imported, or offered for sale, estimated their value, and collected the taxes to which they were legally liable, and as much more as they could extort with impunity, for the benefit of their masters or themselves—which last, in disorderly times and under the bad emperors, had a very wide latitude. This wretched system of "farming" or discounting the revenues of the state, which appears to have been a permanent feature of the government of Rome at all periods—under its kings, under the republic, and under the empire—has, moreover, a feature of general interest, as it clearly illustrates the exceeding limitation and narrowness of the general Roman policy in the sphere of civil administration.

Another fact pertinent to the general philosophy of taxation, which the historical study of Roman polity has developed, is also especially worthy of notice in this connection. As has been previously stated, the Romans, for a period of at least one hundred and twenty-five years before the establishment of the empire under Cæsar, were enabled, through the great spoils of war obtained from subjugated nations, to relieve themselves from taxation for the support of their government; and, in so doing, it appears that they first threw off their direct taxes, and at a later period those taxes that were indirect. But when under Cæsar it became necessary to reimpose taxes, they established them in a reverse order—that is, the indirect taxes were renewed first and in preference to those which were direct; thus recognizing and affirming in practice the idea that characterizes the fiscal policy of most modern governments—namely, that it is expedient to conceal as far as possible the burden of taxes from the people who are to pay them.

The gross amount of annual revenue which the empire of Rome collected in its best day is estimated by Gibbon to have been about twenty million pounds sterling ($100,000,000); later authorities place it at a much higher figure, or $200,000,000, In default, however, of exact information as to the purchasing power of money at the time, it is obvious that neither of these estimates can give us any true idea of the real amount of the Roman revenue; but, taking the probable price of wheat in Rome at the close of the republic as an indication of the price of other commodities, the purchasing power of Gibbon's twenty million pounds sterling ($100,000,000) must have represented a much greater sum, or at least $150,000,000. If the largest of these estimates of the revenue of imperial Rome should seem inadequate for the support of a government that extended over the greater part of the then known surface of the earth, that included a population of at least 150,000,000, and maintained a military and naval establishment of 450,000 men, it should be remembered that, apart from the greater increased purchasing power of money than now prevails, the expenditure by the state for the support of its military forces was comparatively small ("the ratio of military draft upon society before the inception of Rome's decadence being but little more than one third as great as that of the seven principal states of present Europe"[7]); that the present complexity and magnitude of expenditure in the form of taxes did not exist; and that a Roman national debt, with its burden of constantly accruing interest—the one thing most grievous to modern states—was entirely unknown.

The taxes, or rather exactions, on the people of the conquered provinces of Rome were always more numerous, discriminating, and onerous than those levied upon the population of the imperial city and its adjoining districts; and from the time of the Emperor Diocletian they became more and more destructive of industry, and fell with special weight upon agriculture. According to Sir James Stephen, the land tax in Gaul rose to "the almost incredible amount of one third of the net produce of the land"; but what is more singular and incredible, the present tax on the peasant agriculturist of Italy is equivalent to the value of an even larger share of his product.

The provincial taxes which gave rise, however, to the greatest discontent were the poll tax and a tax upon funerals. These were easy to collect, and consequently in favor with the Roman tax-gatherers; but being levied at fixed and undiscriminating rates, pressed with great and unequal severity upon the poor. The last-mentioned tax—i. e., upon funerals, which required payment before the burial of the dead—was said to have formed one of the principal causes of the revolt of the Iceni (Britons), under their famous warrior. Queen Boadicea. The decree mentioned in St. Luke's Gospel, of Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed, and in pursuance of which "every one went into his own city, unquestionably referred to a poll-tax assessment, and to its required payment in person by every adult at the Roman tax-collector 's office nearest to an established center of Roman authority.

In the province of Gaul the annual tribute exacted from every head under the reign of Constantine was reported to have been twenty-five pieces of gold. But the possibility of the payment of such a high capitation tax has been explained by the circumstance that in all the provinces of the Roman world the majority of the people were slaves, or peasants whose condition was little different from slavery; and that the rolls of tribute embraced only the names of citizens who possessed the means of an honorable or at least of a decent subsistence.

The whole record of Roman experience in respect to revenue collection or taxation before the decadence of the empire, alike in the city of Rome and in her provinces, is, however, of no value, save from an historical point of view. It does not appear, as before noted, to have been based upon any well-devised and harmonious fiscal system, or to have had any influence whatever in originating or developing one; for, unlike other Roman customs and institutions, it everywhere fell into disuse when the authority of Rome was withdrawn. In one feature alone was Rome consistent in her views and harmonious in her practice in respect to taxation: she always levied taxes for the purpose of getting money into the public treasury and for no ulterior reason. The nearest approach on the part of the Romans to a recognition of the policy of stimulating a branch of industry through the instrumentality of bounties or subsidies seems to have occurred in connection with the distribution of wheat gratuitously, or at artificially low prices, among the poor and idle masses of the imperial city; which practice, originally adopted under the republic, with a view of obviating popular discontent, and continued, with additions of oil and meat under the empire, finally became a cause of great anxiety to the emperors lest anything should interfere with the movement of grain, which was mainly by sea from Africa and Sicily. To insure regularity and efficient service, the state at first farmed out the right to transport the crops to certain wealthy individuals; and this inducement to enterprise proving insufficient, the Emperor Claudius gave a bounty for each successful trip of the grain fleet. The construction of ships was also encouraged by subsidies, and in this way there grew up a class of wealthy shipowners, whose profits and incentive to business were obtained from the state, and who by organization into an association (analogous to the modern trust) under the name of "Naviculari," with branches in every city or town in the provinces, and with wealthy and influential senators among its stockholders or patrons, attained to great prominence and influence in the third and fourth centuries.

Taxation, in at least one notable instance, was also employed by the Romans as an instrumentality for the correction of a social evil—namely, a disinclination on the part of wealthy citizens, in the latter days of the republic and throughout the whole period of the empire, to contract marriages, with a view of avoiding the cares and burdens of a family. To counteract this tendency, a tax ("æs uxorium") was imposed on bachelors, with a limitation ("lex Julia et Papia Poppæa") on the transmission of property by will or gift by the unmarried and the childless.[8]

The statesmen and administrators of Rome seem never to have given a thought to the desirability of encouraging industry, trade, or commerce among their own people, much less among the people they had subjugated. There was, throughout all their literature and laws, the contempt which brigands and barbarians entertain for honest industry, at least when that industry is not agricultural. To create wealth appeared to them sordid; to take it was admirable, or, as M. Blanqui has put it, the economic policy of the Roman state may be expressed in the following single sentence, "Les romains voulaient avant tout consommer sans produire"[9]

The genius of the Roman government was military, not commercial. The Romans prohibited commerce to persons of rank and fortune; and no senator was allowed to own a vessel larger than a boat sufficient to carry his own food (grain) and fruit. They encouraged corn merchants to import provisions from Sicily, Africa, and Spain, because the cultivators of the soil of Italy, mainly slaves, did not produce a sufficient supply of food for the city of Rome. They seem, moreover, never to have had any conception of the impolicy of levying taxes in such a way as to dry up the channels of trade and enterprise; or of the fact, abundantly substantiated by all experience, that when government takes from its people more than a fair share of the savings of capital and labor, then accumulation will cease and capital be destroyed; and against social disorders thus engendered Rome was powerless. That the seeds of decay were thus planted in her governmental system, and that the fall of her empire was hence only a question of time and inevitable, is a point that historians seem very generally to have overlooked.

During the years of the later empire, although its resources and population had greatly decreased, its expenditures enormously increased; and the sequence of this was a system of grinding exactions, to which, more than any other one immediate cause, the utter decay and final complete downfall of the empire may be attributed. During the period intervening between the reign of Marcus Aurelius and Diocletian it has been estimated that a majority of the population of the empire, from Persia to Gaul, had died of the plague; and what the plague had been to the population, the "fiscus" or financial policy of the government was to industry. Under Constantius, a. d. 337, taxes were imposed on all trades and industries, and such was the comprehension and severity of the law, that Gibbon tells us, that "the honorable merchant, the usurer who derived from the interest of money a silent and ignominious profit, the ingenious manufacturer, the diligent mechanic, and even the obscure retailer of a sequestered village, and the public prostitutes," were all alike obliged to admit the officers of the revenue to a participation of their gains. Such, moreover, was the imperfect state of agriculture and of manufacturing processes that the net product of the individual was necessarily very small—so much so that it has been estimated that the labor of several individuals was required to supply even the necessary food of one inactive person. But as the people became exhausted, the demands of the government, contingent on the maintenance of an extravagant court and a large standing army of soldiers and officials, became greater, the severity in the methods of exaction increased, and in no two provinces was the authority of the government (sovereign) exercised in the same manner.[10] With malignant ingenuity, and with a view of perfecting the control of the state over the individual, and doubtless more especially for facilitating the operation of the officials charged with the duty of collecting taxes, every man's position was fixed for him by the conditions of his birth. The son of a cultivator of the soil was chained, as it were, to the lands tilled by his father. The workmen in all other departments of industry were bound to their position for life, and when they died their places were taken by their sons. "If any one of them deserted his work, he was sought out, even to the remotest provinces, and ruthlessly dragged back to his post."[11] If he failed to produce a prescribed result, the state intervened and forced its accomplishment. In making assessments for taxation, visible tangible property was enrolled with great minuteness by officers who corresponded to our modern assessors. The lands were measured by surveyors; their nature—whether arable or pasture, vineyards or woods—was distinctly reported; and an estimate was made of their value from their average produce for five years. Every new purchaser of land contracted all the obligations of former proprietors. Slaves and cattle were counted separately, and carefully reported for assessment; and by the Theodosian Code, which for the time was an almost universal law, death and confiscation of estate was the punishment to which every farming proprietor was liable who should attempt to evade taxation.

In respect to the assessment and collection of taxes on personal property, the accounts that have come down to us are most interesting, and ought to be full of instruction to legislators of the present day who believe in patterning tax administration after old and vicious experiences, so far as the changed conditions and ideas of civilization in the nineteenth century will admit. The proprietor of such property was, in the first instance, questioned under oath; and every attempt to prevaricate or elude the intentions of the legislator was punishable as a capital crime, and was held to include the double guilt of treason and sacrilege. If the results of personal interrogation under oath were not satisfactory to the tax officials, they were empowered to administer torture; and when personal stoicism or absolute incapacity failed to effect the desired results, resort was had to other, most abhorrent, and unnatural methods for procuring the sum at which their property was assessed—"the faithful slave being tortured for evidence against his master, the wife to depose against her husband, and the son against his sire. Neither age nor sickness exempted from liability and personal inquisition. In taking ages, they added to the years of children and subtracted from those of the elderly. When the number of cattle fell off and the people died, the survivors were obliged to pay the assessments on the dead." Zosimus, a historian who wrote in the early part of the fifth century, says that the approach of the fatal period when the general tax upon industry was to be collected "was announced by the tears and terrors of the citizens."

That the result, so far as the execution of the law was concerned, was a success, can not be doubted; nor that by the methods employed large amounts of revenue were collected that otherwise could not have been obtained. But what were the final results? First, a demonstration of an economic truth, which in subsequent years has over and over again been repeated, that the productiveness of a tax is not its first consideration; and that a blight contingent on the method of assessing and collecting a tax may ruin a harvest which it can not gather. Under the state of things, as described, that prevailed under the latter days of the Roman Empire, the agriculture of its provinces was gradually ruined. Long before the footsteps of the barbarians had been seen in Italy, a large part of what had been its most fertile portion and the seat of "the delicious retirement of the citizens of Rome," had become uncultivated and a desert. "The desire and possibility of accumulation languished, and men produced only what would suffice for their immediate needs; for the government laid in wait for all savings. Capital vanished, the souls of men were palsied; population fled from what was called civilization, and sought concealment and relief in barbarism and with barbarians. Men cried for social death, and invited the coming of savages; and in the form of Goths and Vandals, Huns and Herulii, Franks and Lombards, they came, and the empire of Rome and its degraded civilization went down in almost universal turmoil, bloodshed, robbery, and woe." There is also good reason for believing that the Turks were greatly indebted for their success in overthrowing the subsequent Byzantine or Greek Empire to their simple methods and policy in respect to taxation; and that the subjects of the empire were glad to change their masters, because instead of multiplied, intricate, and vexatious taxes, the legacy of old Rome, they found themselves subject to a simple tribute, easily collected and easily paid.[12]

 

  1. It was probably the contemplation of this state of things that led her great philosopher Aristotle to the conclusion, expressed in his essay on Politics, that "the rule of an irresponsible majority can be just as despotic as that of a single tyrant." He defines this extreme democracy as that "in which the majority, and not the law, is supreme" in other words, "when decrees of the people, and not the law, govern." By "law" is meant a fixed code of statutes, which can not be changed or repealed by the ordinary legislative power. The latter can pass only decrees in conformity to the fixed code, which thus corresponds to our written constitutions. Such absolute power, he says, makes the people a monarch, and finally a despot refusing to be subject to law; and "such a democracy is analogous to tyranny." Both have the same character, for "both exercise a slaveholder's rule over the better citizens." In one we have decrees, in the other edicts; in one demagogues are in authority, in the other flatterers. When a dispute arises, the cry always is, "The people must settle it," and everything is determined by the momentary will of the supreme multitude. From this state of things the wisdom of our fathers has saved us, and the Supreme Court of the United States, as a rule, decides questions of constitutional law with far more wisdom and dignity than its predecessor, the popular court of Athens.
  2. Boeckh's Public Economy of Athens.
  3. It will not probably be disputed that the talent and experience which ought to be prerequisite to the holding and proper discharge of the duties of many of the important offices of the Government of the United States—judges, cabinet ministers, foreign ministers, consuls, etc.—will command in private life a much higher compensation or salary than is paid by the state.
  4. Ortolan, History of Roman Jurisprudence, English edition, p., 257.
  5. "Such a tax was most happily suited to the situation of the Romans, who could frame their arbitrary wills according to the dictates of reason or caprice, without any restraint from the modern fetters of entails and settlements. From various causes, the partiality of parental affection also often lost its influence over the dissolute nobles of the empire; and if the father bequeathed to his son a fourth part of his estate, he removed all grounds of legal complaint."—(Gibbon, vol. i, p. 192.)
  6. Gibbon, vol. i, p. 190, who in turn cites Tacitus, Annals, vol. xiii, p. 31, as authority.
  7. Baker. The Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans. D. Appleton & Co., 1894.
  8. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there was well-nigh universal legislation of this kind, the most thoroughgoing specimens being a Spanish edict of 1623 and one of Louis XIV in 1666, which not only granted exemption from taxation, but positive subsidies in cash, as an inducement to early marriages. That the idea involved in such legislation has also found favor at the present time is shown by the fact that Prof. Richet, a German economist of repute, has recently proposed that in all systems of taxation the fathers of large families be favored, and that corresponding burdens be laid on those who contumaciously refrain from marrying; ignoring the fact that old Rome adopted and carried out this policy by measures much more drastic than the spirit of the present times would tolerate, and that the result is generally believed to have been a failure. It is also worthy of note, that at the present time, in the Canadian Province of Quebec, the fathers of the largest families receive bounties of public lands; the motive of which policy is unquestionably to bring the French Canadian element into the control of the Dominion Government.
  9. See Blanqui. Histoire de l'Economie Politique en Europe. American translation by Emily J. Leonard. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1880.
  10. Alfred Rambaud. L'Empire Grec au Dixième Siècle.
  11. By a law of the Emperor Theodosius, in 438 a. d., it was provided that the fabricenses (meaning thereby the workmen engaged in the fabrication of arms) "shall be so closely bound to their appropriate duties that, worn out at last by their toil, they shall die in the profession to which they were born—both they and their children after them."—(Codex Theod., ii, 9, 4.)
  12. The most available source of information on this subject is the historian Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, edition with notes by Milman, Guizot, and Smith; New York, Harper's), who in turn specially cites as the authority for his statements the two collections of ancient laws designated by the names of the two Byzantine Emperors under whom they were made, as the Codex Theodosianus and Codex Justinianus, and the writings of Zosimus, a Greek historian, who lived in the early part of the fifth century a. d., and whose history of the Roman Empire is still extant. For an exceedingly graphic account of Roman experiences in attempting to tax personal property (from which quotations have here been made) see Roman Imperialism, by J. R. Seeley, London, 1870.