Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter ten: A Further Drawback of Excessive Taxation - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
chapter ten: A Further Drawback of Excessive Taxation - Benjamin Constant, Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments 
Principles of Politics Applicable to a all Governments, trans. Dennis O’Keeffe, ed. Etienne Hofmann, Introduction by Nicholas Capaldi (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
About Liberty Fund:
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
A Further Drawback of Excessive Taxation
It would be yet a further mistake to suppose that the disadvantages of excessive taxation are limited to the poverty and privation of the people. A greater evil results, one which it seems to me has till now not been sufficiently remarked on.
The possession of great wealth inspires in individuals immoderate desires, whims, and fantasies which they would not have felt in more modest and restrained circumstances. It is  the same with governments. Excessive opulence intoxicates them, as does excessive power, because opulence is a kind of power, indeed the most real kind. From this flow your unreal public squares, your immoderate ambitions, your gigantic projects, which a government with only basic resources would never think of. Thus the people are not poor only in that they are taxed beyond their means, but poorer still from the use their government makes of their taxes. Their sacrifices turn against them. They no longer pay taxes to have peace assured by a good system of defense. They pay them to have war, because the government, proud of its huge wealth, invents a thousand pretexts for spending this in ways it calls glorious. The people pay, not so that good domestic order will be maintained, but on the contrary so that an insolent government,25 enriched with its spoils, can with impunity disturb public order with its harassments. In this way a nation which has no safeguard against the proliferation of taxes, purchases by its privations misfortune, trouble, and danger. The father pays for his son to be snatched out of his arms and sent to die far from his country. The farmer pays so that his fields will be devastated by a mob fed on the money he has contributed. In this situation the government is corrupted by its wealth and the people by its poverty.
On Government Jurisdiction over Economic Activity and Population
[25. ][Constant uses the word cour, which suggests that he typically has royal government in mind for this fault. Translator’s note]