Front Page Titles (by Subject) Summary of Principles illustrated in this Volume. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 9
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Summary of Principles illustrated in this Volume. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 9 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 9.
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Summary of Principles illustrated in this Volume.
All the members of a society who derive protection from its government owe a certain proportion of the pro-duce of their labour or capital to the support of that government,— that is, are justly liable to be taxed.
The proportion contributed should be determined by the degree of protection enjoyed,—of protection to property,— for all are personally protected.
In other words, a just taxatiou must leave all the members of society in precisely the same relation in which it found them.
This equality of contribution is the first principle of a just taxation.
Such equably can be secured only by a method of direct taxation.
Taxes on commodities are, from their very nature, un-equal, as they leave it in the choice of the rich man how much he shall contribute to the support of the state; while the man whose whole income must be spent in the purchase of commodities has no such choice. This in-equality is aggravated by the necessity, in order to make these taxes productive, of imposing them on necessaries more than on luxuries.
Taxes on commodities are further injurious by entailing great expense for the prevention of smugghng, and a needless cost of collection.
They could not have been long tolerated but for their quality of affording a convenient method of tax-paying, and for the ignorance of the bulk of the people of their injurious operation.
The method of direct taxatlon which best secures equality is the imposition of a tax on income or on property
There is so much difficulty in ascertaining to the general satisfaction the relative values of incomes held on different teaures, and the necessary inquisition is so odious, that if a tax on the source of incomes can be proved equally equitable, it is preferable, inasmuch as it narrows the province of inquisition.
There is no reason to suppose that an equitable graduation of a tax on invested capital is impracticable; and as it would equally affect all incomes derived from this investment (that is, all incomes whatsoever), its operation must be singularly impartial, if the true principle of graduation be once attained.
A graduated property tax is free from all the evils be. longing to taxes on commodities; while it has not their single recommendation—of favouring the subordinate convenience of the tax-payer.
This last consideration will, however, become of less importance in proportion as the great body of tax-payers advances towards that enlightened agreement which is essential to the establishment of a just system of taxation.
The grossest violation of every just principle of taxation is the practice of burdening posterity by contracting permanent loans, of which the nation is to pay the interest.
The next grossest violation of justice is the transmitting such an inherited debt unlessened to posterity, especially as every improvement in the arts of life furnishes the means of throwing off a portion of the national burdens.
The same rule of morals which requires state-economy on behalf of the present generation, requires, on behalf of future generations, that no effort should be spared to liquidate the National Debt.
London: Printed by William Clowes, Duke-street, Lambeth.
The task which I originally proposed to myself is now finished. I have done what I could to illustrate the leading principles of Political Economy. But I cannot leave off without attempting something more which I believe will improve the purpose of what I have already done. Now that Taxation is everywhere considered a subject of deep importanee,—attention having been called to it in a remarkable degree since my series was planned,—I feel that my work is not complete without a further illustration of the practice as well as the principle of Taxation. In the present doubtful state of our financial policy, the few Numbers which I am about to issue may be expected to be of greater temporary, and of less permanent, interest than those which have preceded them. However this may be, I believe myself called upon to offer them, before laying aside my pen for a long interval.
That I should be permitted to complete, without interruption, my original plan of monthly publication, for two years, was more than, in the uncertainty of human affairs and the inconsistency of human projects, I ventured to anticipate with any degree of assurance. This is not the place in which to express more than a mere acknowledgment of the fact. But I must be allowed to add that so long a continuance of health and leisure is less surprising to me than the steadiness of the favour by which my exertions have been supported. Unless I could explain how far my achievements have fallen short of my aims, I could not express my sense of the patience with which the wise have borne with my failures, and the ardour with which (for the sake of the science) they have stimulated my successes: while those who have done me the honour of learning anything from me, have given me a yet higher pleasure by their studious appreciation of my object. I know not that my friends of either class can be better thanked than by the assurance, that while in their service I have not experienced a single moment of discouragement or weariness about my task. I have been often conscious of weakness, amounting to failure; but I have never been disheartened. Long after my slight elementary work shall have been (I trust) superseded, I shall, if I live, recur with quiet delight to the time when it formed my chief occupation, and shall hope that the wide friendships which it has originated will subsist when my little volumes are forgotten.
It must be perfectly needless to explain what I owe to preceding writers on the science of which I have treated. Such an acknowledgment could only accompany a pretension of my own to have added something to the science—a pretension which I have never made. By dwelling, as I have been led to do, on their discoveries, I have become too much awakened to the glory to dream of sharing the honour. Great men must have their hewers of wood and drawers of water; and scientific discoverers must be followed by those who will popularize their discoveries. When the woodman finds it necessary to explain that the forest is not of Iris planting, I may begin to particularize my obligations to Smith and Malthus, and others of their high order.
I proceed to my short remaining task untired, and happy to delay, for a few months, the period when I must bid my readers a temporary farewell.