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Joseph Lowe.

The present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France online

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the eventual magnitude of which, proved one of the
wonders of the age. What concurrence of circum-
stances enabled him and his successors to carry
taxation so far ? During the war, our capital and
labour had ample employment : competition from
abroad on the part of foreigners, or what might
have proved far more formidable, our emigrating
countrymen, w^as wholly out of the question. The
transfer of English capital to the continent was
prevented, as well by a dread of lawless conduct on



Taxation, a Cause ofEmharrassment . 387

the part of the French government, as by a more
gratifying consideration, the profits reaUzed at
home. .Since the peace, circumstances are entirely
altered ; the competition of foreigners is to be
dreaded ; capital has been placed in foreign funds,
and emigration, had not the price of provisions
fallen among us, might have been carried to a ruin-
ous length. The profit of stock, the wages of part
of the lower classes, the emoluments of the higher,
most incomes, in short, except those of the annuitant
on the public funds, have undergone diminution,
the wiiole pointing as much to the necessity of re-
ducing taxation in peace, as our situation during
war indicated the practicability of its increase.

How far is Taxation a Cause of Embay^rassment ?
— What, it may be asked, have been the most pro-
minent characteristics of our national embarrass-
ment since 1814? A deficiency of employment,
among part of the lower orders, and distress, from
insufficiency of wages, at those intervals when pro-
visions were high priced. In the middle classes,
whether merchants, manufacturers, or agriculturists,
the general ground of complaint has been an inade-
quacy of profit ; a disproportion of prices to the
cost of production. The principal cause of these
and other difficulties was, doubtless, as explained
in the preceding chapters, the magnitude of^ the
transition, the suspension of government expendi-
ture, and the consequent over-stock of hands. That
such would have been severely felt under a taxation
as light as that of Switzerland or the United States
of America, admits of no doubt ; but it never would
have reaJicd such an extent, or coiitinuetl until the
ninth year of peace, had not our public burdens,
and consequently the expence of Uving, been higher

c c 2



.'■tSS Injvrii arising

than among our neighbours. Emigration and the
export of capital would, in a different case, have
been comparatively inconsiderable ; and additional
means of promoting j/roductive industry would
have been possessed at home.

Having no wish to press our arguments to an
extreme, we disclaim, without hesitation, the aid of
certain popular notions, such as that " a taxed
commodity after passing through three or four dif-
ferent hands, is enhanced by 20 or 30 per cent,
charged by the dealers for their advance on the
tax.'* We know too well the slender profit of either
wholesale or retail business, to give credit to such
loose assertions ; a dealer is in general satisfied
with a charge of 2 or 3 per cent, on his ad\ance,
so that this argument, though not undeserving of
attention, has no claim to a prominent rank in the
objections to taxation. These will be found suffi-
ciently serious without the aid of exaggeration : it
can hardly be disputed that our high duties tend,
to raise our prices above the currency of our neigh-
bours, and we have the sanction of Dr. Smith
for saying that " a rise in the money price of com-
modities, "when peculiar to a country, tends to dis-
courage more or less every department of industry
carried on within it, enabling other nations to
undersell it, not only in the foreign but in the home
market;" — an opinion to which we subscribe in the
words of its illustrious author, notwithstanding all
tbe qualifications of it which we have read in the
publications of the political economists of the day.
To bring this question into a more definite form,
we subjoin a table of the



from Taxation.



.389



Taxes uihich bear, more or less directly, on the comjorit qflifCy



Online LibraryJoseph LoweThe present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France → online text (page 29 of 40)