Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

money sunk : but do the fine mansions that we see erected throughout the country to adorn it pay? Do the pleasure-grounds, &c. &c. executed to minister to the pampered pride of the rich, pay? No; they do not pay a farthing towards liquidating the debt incurred by their formation, or even liquidating the interest of it, although conferring a great benefit at the period of such formation by the employment afforded to the poor, and from the money circulated in consequence: still we hear improvements like these lauded on all hands, although we find, on the other hand, the investing of money in rendering barren land productive vehemently condemned, unless a good interest is returned for the same; yet how much more deserving of praise is that where money is sunk in rendering land capable of affording sustenance to man, than where it is sunk in rendering it incapable of affording the like. We hear the Maltese praised for covering their barren rock with soil imported from a foreign country, and we every day hear foreign nations praised for their industry in rendering barren spots beautiful, fertile and habitable by man; but when the same means are applied in our own country, they are ridiculed and condemned yet how much more would the country be benefited in expending its money in works such as these, than in supplying loans to foreign nations to enable them more expeditiously to cut each other's throats, or in foreign visionary speculations, where the sums are not only lost to the individuals, but to the country also, that they belong to. Was a quarter of the money expendedin the last war but available for home improvements now, or was but that lost in the late foreign mining bubbles available either, how many English families might have been made happy, and how much positive good done to the country at large. As I have said before, although money sunk in rendering barren land fertile may not benefit so much the individual who so sunk it, as if he had sunk it in some other speculation, yet if a piece of land that could not maintain one individual can be made to maintain twenty, the country at large cannot but be greatly benefited by the like. Were the waste lands throughout the country but granted to a set of men as industrious as the Berwickshire quarrymen, or Welsh miners before spoken of, what great individual and national benefits would be conferred thereby. A country always thrives best, and government is most efficiently conducted, when there are various gradations of property as well as of ranks; and as the large are always disposed to swallow up the small properties, therefore these small properties ought to be held on a tenure that the proprietor was to be a bona-fide resident, by which method these small farms could not possibly be consolidated. The great bar against the cultivation of waste lands

6

similarly situated to Dartmoor, is the difficulty of sheltering them from the chilling breezes, and thus ameliorating their climate thereby. The soil is ameliorated by this species of shelter as much as it is by the draining of it, rendering it more capable of imbibing and retaining heat. Shelter could be speediest and probably most effectually afforded on such an exposed site as Dartmoor, by running high dry-stone fences across it facing the northeast, similar to the Galloway dikes, with cross-walls of a lower construction to connect them; thus laying the whole off into regular square fields, and further warming the soil by draining previous to bringing it into cultivation. The air will be rendered in a manner stagnant in these inclosures (in the same way as we see water rendered stagnant in a dish sunk in a running stream), and the sun thus acting more powerfully on it in this quiescent state, the fields will receive the full genial warmth dispensed by its rays in spite of the cold breezes skimming over the tops of the walls which surround them. By draining a field and sheltering it thus from the chilling breezes, you confer a benefit on its climate, and consequently, too, on its soil, equal to a removal of several degrees of latitude farther south.

FOR IMPROVING THE REVENUE OF THE COUNTRY,

WITHOUT

ADDING TO THE BURDENS OF THE PEOPLE;

IN A LETTER

ADDRESSED TO THE

RIGHT HON. GEORGE CANNING,

FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY, &c. &c.

BY CAPT. FORMAN, R. N.

ORIGINAL.

LONDON:-1827.

SIR,

ADAM SMITH, in his Treatise on the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, has laid down four propositions, which ought to be duly considered by the government in taxing the community. They are as follows:

1. The subjects ought to contribute towards the support of the state, as near as possible in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under its protection.

2. Every tax ought to be so contrived, as to take out of the pockets of the people as little as possible, over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the state.

3. The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain, and not arbitrary. The time of payment, the manner of payment, and the quantity to be paid, ought to be clear and plain to the contributor, and to every other person. Where it is otherwise, every person subject to the tax is put more or less in the power of the tax-gatherer, who can aggravate the tax on every obnoxious contributor, or extort, by the terror of such aggravation, some present or perquisite to himself.

4. Every tax ought to be levied at the time, or in the manner, which is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay it.

The plan, Sir, which I am going to propose, without violating the last article, more than, I believe, the present system of taxa

tion necessarily does, is perfectly agreeable to the three first. It is the fairest and most equal that can possibly be conceived: it is more simple in its operation and certain in its effect than any other; and will add more than three millions to the revenue of the country, without increasing the burdens of the people.

I am sensible, Sir, that what I am going to propose will, at the first view, appear so wild and extravagant, that I am under some apprehension that you will consider me a visionary system-monger, and shut the book without proceeding further in the perusal of it; but a plan which proposes so great a saving in the expenses of collecting the revenue, deserves at least to be impartially examined; and I am convinced that, if you will take the trouble to read it through, you will be constrained to acknowlege that, bold as it appears, it rests on the basis of sound reason; and if it should not be thought advisable to put it in execution, it will not be because it would not be advantageous to the community at large, but because it is opposed to the private interests of powerful individuals,

In one word, Sir, I propose to take off the customs, excise, and assessed taxes altogether, together with all other taxes that are attended with considerable expense in collecting them, and replace their amount by an income tax; taking the sum produced by this tax the most unfavorable year as an average, and multiplying the per centage by the same proportion that it falls short of the sum required.

It appears by the newspapers, that the net revenue derived from the customs and excise duties for the year ending July 5, 1827, was in round numbers as follows:

Customs 16,000,000
Excise 17,000,000

Total

33,000,000

I have no means of ascertaining precisely what the expense of levying this sum amounts to, but Adam Smith informs us that, in the year 1775, the expense on the gross sum in the excise amounted to five and a half per cent, and in the customs to more than ten per cent. "But the perquisites of custom-house officers," he observes," are every where greater than their salaries; at some places more than double or triple their salaries. If the salaries and other incidents therefore," he adds, "amount to more than ten per cent, the whole expense of levying that revenue may amount to more than twenty or thirty per cent.'

""

Supposing the expense of collecting the revenue to be the same now, ten per cent on the gross sum in the customs, and five and a half on the excise, would amount to 2,800,000l.; to which, if we

« PředchozíPokračovat »