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"That the food' and raiment furnished to "the fociety by husbandmen and manu"facturers, are all that these good people
bound to contribute: and fuppofing "them bound to contribute more, it is 66 not till others have done as much for "the public." At that rate, lawyers and physicians ought alfo to be exempted from contributing; especially those who draw the greatest fums, because they are suppofed to do the moft good. That argument, the fuggeftion of a benevolent heart, is no proof of an enlightened understanding. The labours of the farmer, of the lawyer, of the physician, contribute not a mite to the public fund, nor tend to defray the expence of government. The luxurious proprietor of a great eftate has a ftill better title to be exempted than the husbandman; because he is a great benefactor to the public, by giving bread to a variety of induftrious people. In a word, every man ought to contribute for being protected; and if a husbandman be protected in working for himself one-and-fifty weeks yearly, he ought thankfully to work one week more, for defraying the expence of that protection.
Different Sorts of Taxes, with their Advantages and Difadvantages.
LL taxes are laid upon perfons; but in different respects: a tax laid on a man personally, for himself and family, is termed a capitation-tax; a tax laid on him for his property, is termed a tax on goods. The latter is the only rational tax, because it may be proportioned to the ability of the proprietor. It has only one inconvenience, that his debts must be overlooked; because to take these into the account, would lead to endless intricacies. But there is an obvious remedy for that inconvenience: let the man who complains free himself of debt, by felling land or moveables; which will fo far relieve him of the tax. Nor ought this measure to be confidered as a hardship: it is feldom the interest of a landholder to be in debt; and with refpect to the public, the measure VOL. II.
not only promotes the circulation of property, but is favourable to creditors, by procuring them payment. A capitationtax goes upon an erroneous principle, as if all men were of equal ability. What prompts it is, that many men, rich in bonds and other moveables that can eafily be hid from public infpection, cannot be reached otherwife than by a capitation-tax. But as, by the very fuppofition, fuch men cannot be diftinguished from the mass of the people, that mode of taxing, miferably unequal, is rarely practifed among enlightened nations. Ruffia labours under a capitation-tax. Some years ago, a capitation-tax was impofed in Denmark, obliging even day-labourers to pay for their wives and children. Upon the fame abfurd plan, a tax was impofed on marriage. One would be tempted to think, that population was intended to be difcouraged. The Danish miniftry have been fenfible of the impropriety of fuch taxes; for a tax imposed on those who obtain titles of honour from the crown, is applied for relieving husbandmen of their capitation-tax. But a tax of this kind lies open to many other objections. It cannot fail to raise
the price of labour, a poisonous effect in a country of induftry; for the labourer will relieve himself of the tax, by heightening his wages more prudent it would be to lay the tax directly on the employer, which would remove the pretext for heightening wages. The taxing of day-labourers, whether by capitation or in any other manner, has befide an effect contrary to what is intended instead of increafing the public revenue, it virtually leffens it, by raising pay of foldiers, failors, and of every workman employed by government.
Taxes upon goods are of two kinds, viz. upon things confumable, and upon things not confumable. I begin with the latter. The land-tax in Britain, paid by the proprietor according to an invariable rule, and levied with very little expence, is of all taxes the moft juft, and the most effectual. The proprietor, knowing beforehand the fum he is fubjected to, prepares accordingand as each proprietor contributes in proportion to his eftate, the tax makes no variation in their relative opulence, The only improvement it is fufceptible of, is the Athenian regulation, of exempting fmall eftates that are no more than fufficient
to afford bread to the frugal proprietor. In France, the land-tax feems to have been established on a very falfe foundation, viz. That the clergy perform their duty to the ftate by praying and inftructing, that the nobleffe fight for the state; and confequently, that the only duty left to the farmer, is to defray the charges of government. This argument would hold, if the clergy were not paid for praying, nor the nobleffe for fighting. Such a load upon the poorest members of the state, is an abfurdity in politics. And to render it ftill more abfurd, the tax on the farmer is not imposed by an invariable rule: every one is taxed in proportion to his apparent circumftances, which in effect is to tax induftry. Nor is this all. Under pretext of preventing famine, the exporting of corn, even from province to province, is frequently interrupted; by which it happens, that the corn of a plentiful year destroyed by infects, and in a year of scarcity is engroffed by merchants. Suppofe a plan were defiderated for difcouraging agriculture, here is one actually put in execution, the fuccefs of which is infallible. "Were it related," obferves a French writer,