Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION VII.: HEADS OF OBJECTION, WITH ANSWERS. † - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 2
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SECTION VII.: HEADS OF OBJECTION, WITH ANSWERS. † - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 2 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 2.
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HEADS OF OBJECTION, WITH ANSWERS.†
Objection I. Supposed tendency to promote dissipation of the national wealth, by leading men to live upon their capitals, or sell them for annuities for their own lives, in consequence of their being restrained from benefiting those that are dear to them after their death.
Answer: No such tendency; for—
1. A man will not bar those that are dear to him, from receiving any part, only because there is some part that he cannot enable them to receive.
2. Nor himself from disposing in that manner of any part, only because there is some part that he can not so dispose of.
3. The power of benefiting others after death is not the sole motive to accumulation: another, and a still stronger and more universal one, is the faculty of increasing a man’s fund of personal enjoyment during life—a faculty which would be at a stand, if he parted with his capital for an annuity.
4. Such dissipation, were it really to be, in here and there an instance, the result of the measure, would only be a diminution, and that a most trifling one, from the benefit of it—not any objection to the principle of it.
Objection II. Breach of faith in the instance of property in the funds.
Answer: Not unless confined to that species of property, which is not proposed,—
No more than the existing taxes on distributive shares and legacies, which, in as far as there is nothing else to pay them, must come out of any property a man had in the funds: no more than any tax on consumption, which must fall upon stockholders in common with other people; since, in as far as a man’s own income arises out of the funds, every tax he pays is paid out of what he has in the funds.
Property is not in this way the more affected for being in the funds; since in any other shape it would be equally reached by the proposed regulation.
Objection III. Breach of faith in the instance of foreign stockholders resident abroad, who would not have been affected by the taxes in lieu of which this would come.
Answer: None; for they may sell out.
Reply: The sort of obligation they will thereby be laid under to sell out, is still a hardship; the more, as their submitting to it will lower the price.
Answer: Yes; were many likely to sell out on this account, but that is not in the case,—
1. Because much of such stock is in the hands of bodies corporate.
2. Among individuals, it is but a small proportion that will be destitute of relations within the pale.
3. Fewer still who would take to heart to such a degree a restriction from which a man’s near relations stand exempted.
4. Feeling it to be in his power to sell out at any time, a man would neither sell out at first nor afterwards.
Objection IV. It is pro tanto very much exposed at least to evasion.
Answer: 1. To none but what may be pretty effectually guarded against by proper registers, &c.
2. If it could not, the objection applies, not to the principle of the measure, but only to the quantum of advantage.
3. It removes pro tanto the objection of breach of faith: so far as a man evades, so far he is not hurt.
Objection V. Tendency to sink the price of land by glutting the market with it.
Answer: 1. No reason for supposing it will tend to sink the price in one way, more than it will to raise it in another; for,
I. Income arising out of land being more generally eligible, will always fetch more than equal income arising out of the funds—still more than equal income depending upon mere personal security.
II. Nothing, therefore, can sink the price of land, without sinking that and the price of stocks together; nor without sinking the price of stocks more than the price of land; nor raise the price of stocks without raising the price of land.
III. It will tend to raise the price of stocks at any rate, as to that part of the property it attaches upon, which it finds already in the shape of stock, and which it will of course extinguish and take out of the market. As also in respect of whatever other part is applied to the extinction of the public debt.
Admitted, that a depreciation in the price of property in land, in comparison with that of property in the funds, might take place, if land were as yet at a monopoly price, as Adam Smith seems to think it is. B. iii. c. 4.
But this does not seem to be the case, since a man can make three per cent. by laying out his money in land, when he can make but three and a half per cent. by laying it out in the funds; which is no more than an adequate difference for the difference in point of general eligibility between the two sources of income.
2. A fall in the price of land is considered not as an ineligible, but as an eligible event, by Adam Smith (B. iii. c. 4,) though not by me, who, referring everything to the feelings of individaals, regard the sensation of loss thus produced, as an evil outweighing every possible advantage.
Objection VI. Money thus obtained will be collected at greater expense than if obtained from taxes.
Answer: 1. No particular reason for thinking so.
2. Were this clear, it would afford no objection, because none of the hardship would be produced here, which is the result of expense when defrayed by taxes.
Objection VII. Increase of the influence of the crown by the new places that would be necessary.
Answer: 1. Not more from this mode of supply, than from any other of equal magnitude.
2. Were the objection anything determinate, the weight of it would bear, not against a useful establishment like this, but against useless or less useful places.
3. The objection, if it were worth while, might be got rid of in part, by giving the appointment of escheators to the freeholders, who now have the appointment of coroners.
Objection VIII. The powers that must be given for the purpose of collection would be abused.
Answer: 1. This mode of supply is not more open to abuse of power, to the prejudice of the individual, than any other.
2. Abuse of power by undue indulgence to the individual, to the prejudice of the revenue, goes only to the quantum of the advantage, and forms therefore no objection to the principle of the measure; and as to the individual, so far as he is indulged, duly or unduly, he is not hurt.
3. Abuses of both kinds may be more effectually checked in this instance than in others; viz. by the publicity that, even for other purposes, would require to be given to the proceedings.
The remark, though bad as an objection, is good as a warning, and as such would be attended to.
Objection IX. By the facility it would give to the business of supply, it would be an encouragement to profusion on the part of government.
Answer: If this were an objection, the most burdensome mode of supply would be the best.
Rendering supply more burthensome than it might be, is a remedy worse than the disease; or rather an aggravation of the disease, to the exclusion of the remedy.
The following are the suppositions which the objection must take for granted:—1. That all expenditure is unnecessary; 2. That this mode of supply would be submitted to; 3. That no other would.
It would be a strange inconsistency if those who could not be brought to adopt other modes of checking profusion, could, in the mere view of checking profusion, be brought to reject this mode of supply.
Objection X. It would make a revolution in property.
Answer: The tendency of this objection, the force of which consists altogether in the abuse of a word, is to point to a wrong object the just horror conceived against the French revolution. The characteristic of that revolution is to trample in every possible way upon the feelings of individuals. The characteristic of this measure, is to show more tenderness to those feelings, than can be shown by the taxes to which it is proposed to substitute it.
Objection XI. The property of the nation would thus be swallowed up in the Exchequer.
Answer: No more than by taxes to the same amount.
Objection XII. It would be a subversion of the ancient law of inheritance in this country.
Answer: A quiet alteration, made by a mere extension given to the old law—to a branch more ancient than almost any of those at the expense of which it is extended. No subversion, except in as far as every amendment is a subversion.
Objection XIII. It would be an innovation.
Answer: No more than every new law; nor, as we have seen, so much as most new laws: no more than a set of taxes to the same amount.
Not so much; for all the revenue laws we have, are innovations in comparison with the law of escheat.
[† ]To Mr.—. This is but an, index: the objections and answers are given at large in the body of the paper.