Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/608

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of taxation. The fruits of such expenditure are general education and general health; improved roads, diminished expenses of transportation, and security for life and property. And it will be found to be a general rule that no high degree of civilization can be maintained in a community, and indeed that no highly civilized community can exist, without comparatively large taxation;[1] the converse of this proposition, however, at the same time not being admitted, that the existence of high taxes is necessarily a sign of high civilization.

It is interesting to note, however, that as civilization increases, and taxation becomes absolutely greater, it also becomes relatively less. Thus, in most of our great cities the cost of the water supply to its inhabitants constitutes at present one of the largest items of municipal expenditure—an item that forty or fifty years ago hardly found a place in municipal accounts. And yet the cost of a supply of even the minimum quantity of water now regarded as essential to meet the ordinary requirements for personal cleanliness and health would be very much greater to every citizen, were he to undertake to supply himself, even if it were possible, by the old methods; to say nothing of the comfort and luxury, as well as protection against loss by fire, which an increased supply, made possible only through a greatly increased aggregate of taxation, has afforded.

In short, taxation assessed and levied under conditions clearly conformable to reason and justice, is no more of an evil than any other necessary and desirable form of expenditure. Its proper exercise does not diminish, but protects and augments, national wealth, and is no more a burden upon the people of a state than the payments made for the care and profitable management of private or corporate investments of capital are a burden upon the owners of such capital. Indeed, M. Menier, whose study of taxation entitles him to be regarded as an authority, contends that the analogy between the expenditures of a state which have to be remunerated by taxes and the expenditures of a manufacturer is most complete. The state, he says, possesses a certain extent of territory. That territory has such and such natural utilities. These natural utilities have been developed by labor

  1. "I have not seen an instance of rent being very low, and husbandry at the same time being good."—Lowe, quoted by McCulloch.

    "It is universally found that the low rents absorb the largest proportion of the product."—H. C. Carey, On Wealth, p. 341.

    "An ingenious philosopher has calculated the universal measure of the public impositions by the degrees of freedom or servitude that accompany them, and ventures to assert that, according to an invariable law of Nature, it must always increase with the former and diminish in a just proportion to the latter."—Statement by Gibbon, on the authority of Montesquieu.