Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/159

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APPLETONS'

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



JUNE, 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 V.

TAXATION in Egypt. — Herodotus, the Father of History, in writing more than two thousand years ago about Egypt, characterized it as a land of wonders, "containing more marvelous things than any other country," and in this opinion the judgment of succeeding ages, finding an all-sufficient warrant in primeval, stupendous, and mysterious monuments, has been compelled, as it were, fully to acquiesce. At this latter day, however, there has been added to Egyptian history what may be rightfully termed another wonder, namely, the most interesting and instructive experience in taxation in the world's history. Interesting and instructive because it affords the most striking and unprecedented illustrations of the results contingent on an arbitrary and unintelligent treatment of a heavy annual requirement of revenue for the support of a state, as contrasted with the results which have been the sequence of a wise and practical policy for a like purpose in the same country and under similar conditions.

Previous to the military occupation of Egypt by the British forces in 1882, consequent upon the suppression of the rebellion under the lead of Arabi Pasha, the condition of the country was wretched almost beyond conception. Its revenue system, in accordance with Asiatic ideas, comprehended nearly every form of iniquitous extortion. The principal source of revenue was essentially in the nature of a land tax; and for the dusky fellah, who represents the bulk of the Egyptian population, and who with a