Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/745

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723
HOW TO RAISE REVENUE.

general principle, the majority of the men who appear before the "Ways and Means" Committee of Congress generally ask for prohibitory duties on the importation cf articles that compete with their own products. To the extent that protection is made absolute, to just that extent the customs revenue will be destroyed.[1]Taxes levied on the importation of commodities that the country does not produce accrue entirely to the benefit of the national Treasury. Taxes levied on the importation of commodities which compete with domestic products are paid by the people, but benefit the Treasury to a very limited extent or not at all. For example, when in 1869 a tax of five cents per pound was imposed on the import of crude or unmanufactured copper, the customs revenue that accrued to the Government in one year (1879) was only five cents; but the taxes levied on the American people through the increase in the price of domestic copper, and effected mainly through the agency of a gigantic monopoly, aggregated millions during the same period.

One almost insuperable obstacle in the way of formulating and instituting a correct system of revenue which pertains to the Federal Government of the United States, does not find a parallel in the administration of the government of' any other country in which its people are allowed to participate. As a rule, in such other countries political antagonisms, however bitter they may be on the part of legislators, do not embrace or extend to the business of raising the revenues which are considered essential for the support of the state, although no system of revenue has ever been devised, or probably ever can be, that will not to a greater or less degree be made the subject of popular complaint. In this connection the methods adopted as the result of long experience by the British Parliament for raising revenue and authorizing expenditure in anticipation of the necessities of each succeeding year, are most pertinent, and substantially as follows:

The British fiscal year commences on the 1st of April. In the course of the preceding six months the estimates of expenditures for the ensuing year are prepared with great detail by the heads of the different departments of the Government and submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who corresponds to the United


  1. "Mr. Lawrence, of Ohio, who for years has been most earnest in advocating prohibitory duties on wool, when, recently confronted with the fact that his policy would lead to the loss of revenue, said: 'Why should you want any?' When the laugh that followed had subsided, he explained that he meant why should we want any revenue from wool, adding that there were many other commodities from which revenue could be derived. He did not stop tp consider that the producers of those other articles wanted duties that would shut out foreign competition as badly as he desired it in his own interest. Moreover, his was a particularly flagrant cast, as he represented a commodity of which the country produces only about half as much as we consume."