Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/11

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



NOVEMBER, 1895.



PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.
By DAVID A. WELLS.

"The principles of good government are far from easy to learn accurately; and very much harder to put in practice."—F. B. Sanborn.

INTRODUCTION.

IT is the purpose of the writer in the chapters which follow, to discuss the principles of taxation from a broader basis and by different methods than have heretofore been attempted, special consideration being given to the experience of the United States.

Such a discussion primarily involves the inquiry, of how far the varied and curious experience of nations leads up through what may be regarded as a process of evolution, to a recognition of the underlying and essential principles of a just and at the same time an efficient system of taxation. And it also necessitates, for the attainment of correct conclusions in the prosecution of such inquiry, that illustrations drawn from the world's great record of experience should take precedence of theory, especially in the way of example and exhibit of the many abuses of the power of taxation which the ignorance of legislators and the cupidity of designing men have inflicted upon nations.

The subject is one of transcendent importance, perhaps more universally important than any other that can invite public attention. Its discussion .opens questions of the widest possible range. There can be no civilization without government and no government without an adequate supply of revenue obtained from the persons and property of the people governed. There can be no health in the body politic without sound finance, and no sound finance without a sound system of taxation. In fact,