Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/306

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290
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and can have, therefore, but one meaning namely, money j because money is the indispensable and practically the only means of defraying the expenses of the state and efficiently administering its government; and taxation is the process by which the state obtains money from its citizens, who in turn obtain (as before pointed out see Chapter III) it in exchange for some product of their labor or for some direct personal service. In short, money is an expedient that finds its sole justification in its adaptation to a special purpose.

At the same time it is important to bear in mind that the raising or procurement of money with the view or purpose of accumulating wealth is not a legitimate function or object of civil government.

This point, which, stated and regarded as an abstract proposition, may seem to the reader as a matter of interest but of little practical importance, finds a very interesting and most instructive exemplification in the recent attempt to govern South Africa by means of a chartered company "The South African Company." The attempt failed by the confusing on the part of the company of two things which are absolutely irreconcilable and ought never to be associated namely, the prerogative of governing men on the one hand and the desire of making money on the other. This the company in question attempted to do by taxing the inhabitants of the territory embraced in its charter for the purpose of making dividends for shareholders, who as a rule did not live in the country, but mainly in England. The result has been a thoroughly vicious and intolerable form of government, one which "has operated to deaden the sense of responsibility among the rulers, who are here to-day but are gone to-morrow, and answerable to nobody but the company."

Now, if these premises are correct and it is difficult to see how they can be disproved it would seem to follow that to seek to make taxation, which is a fit contrivance only for raising revenue, an instrument for effecting some ulterior purpose, be it never so just and legitimate, to seek to use it for the attainment of any other advantage than the obvious one of raising money, is to lose sight of a fundamental principle of every free government and to forbid all expectation of recognizing any other basis for the exercise of this great sovereign power of the state than expediency, which in turn will depend upon the actions, passions, and


able in tobacco; and in Massachusetts, Indian corn, musket balls, dried peas, cattle, and beaver skins were made legal tender for the payment of taxes until the early years of the eighteenth century. Ultimately, and in all cases as civilization advanced, such media for the payment of taxes, or the discharge of other forms of indebtedness, have been found to result in terrible currency confusion and to be wholly impracticable.