Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XII.: Of the revenues and expenses of government and its debts. - A Treatise On Political Economy
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CHAPTER XII.: Of the revenues and expenses of government and its debts. - Antoine Louis Claude, Comte Destutt de Tracy, A Treatise On Political Economy 
A Treatise on Political Economy: to which is Prefixed a Supplement to a Preceding Work on the Understanding or Elements of Ideology; with an Analytical Table, and an Introduction on the Faculty of the Will (Georgetown: Joseph Milligan, 1817).
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Of the revenues and expenses of government and its debts.
The history of the consumption of government is but a part of the history of general consumption.
Government is a very great consumer, living not on its profits but on its revenues.
It is good that the government should possess real property. Independently of other reasons it calls for so much the less of taxes.
A tax is always a sacrifice which the government demands of individuals. While it only lessens every one's personal enjoyments, it only shifts expenses from one to another.
But when it encroaches on productive consumption it diminishes public riches.
The difficulty is to see clearly when taxes produce the one or the other of these two effects.
To judge well of this we must divide them into six classes.
We show in the first place that the taxes of each of these six classes are injurious in ways peculiar to themselves.
We show afterwards who in particular are injured by each of them.
Is a conclusion asked? Here it is. The best taxes are, first, the most moderate, because they compel fewer sacrifices and occasion less violence. Secondly, The most varied, because they produce an equilibrium amongst themselves. Thirdly, The most ancient, because they have already mixed with all prices, and every thing is arranged in consequence.
As to the expenses of government they are necessary but they are sterile. It is desirable that they be the smallest possible.
It is still more desirable that government should contract no debts.
It is very unfortunate that it has the power of contracting them.
This power, which is called public credit, speedily conducts all the governments which use it to their ruin; has none of the advantages which are attributed to it; and rests on a false principle.
It is to be desired that it were universally acknowledged that the acts of any legislative power whatsoever cannot bind their successors, and that it should be solemnly declared that this principle is extended to the engagements which they make with the lenders.