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To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine. The practical inference, which every SIR,
attentive reader cannot fail to draw froin THE public have been deeply inte. these statements, is the total inadequacy
1 rested by the sets of Financial Reso- of the means, hitherto employed, to keep lucions lately subinitted to the House of pace with the rapid progression of milCommons, relative to our incumbrances lions exhibited in the expenditure of the and resources, as exhibiting striking facts Government. which are of the highest importance to The public expenses of this empire, the welfare of the British empire. within firty years, have forined a rego
By these several documents, it appears, Tarly increasing series of 8, 10, 15, 18, 24, that the funded debt, in February 1812, 32, 45, 60, 75, 97, and 104 millions! Nor was nearly 772 millions; that the various does there appear any reason why the other sums for which the government stood series will not proceed in future in the pledged, amounted to other 150 millions; same proportion! It will therefore auge making the total of ihe public engagement in every four or five years, in a ments, 922 millions!, That against this, the fourth, or fifth ratio; consequently it is sinking fund has redeemed a sum of not difficult to foresee, that, in an ascer(since the time when the debt itself was tainable number of years, cateris paribus, but 230 millions,) 215 millions, leaving the figures expressing the national expene an existing unliquidated debt of 707 mil- diture inust become 120, 150, 180, 220, lions! It appears also, that the annual 260, and 300 millions. Similar etfects must charges of the debt are nearly 35 inillions, result from the operation of similar causes! that the other outgoings are nearly 70 The following table of the monies millions more, making a total charge on raised for the public service in various pethe revenue of upwards of 104 millions; riods from Janies II. in 1698, to the year while the consolidated fund, or perma: 1812, is taken from official documents, nent taxes, are less than 36 millions, and will better illustrate the operation of (that is, no more than the amunt of the in- the existing system than any reasoning. terest of the debt,) and the war taxes pro. It must be evident that the series will duce hut 22 millionis, leaving a deficiency go on in the same ratio as long as the same below the expenditure of above 48 mil. causes operate, and therefore it cannot lions, to be provided by loans, issues of Ex- be difficult to fill up the amounts for any chequer bills, &c. The figures, in truth, future years: have become so extravagant, that our In the
In the reign of James II. the renominal exports of 40, and imports of so
venue was ........
2,000,000 millions, which used u seem vast announts,
William III. .
-Anne ......... dwindle into insignificance, when placed
George I. ..... beside our debts and expenditure !
6,700,000 -George II.
8,500,000 Nor is much consolation afforded by
8,500,000 considerations arising out of the aug.
9,300,000 Inented income of the country from
9,500,000 lands, houses, and capital. These, at
10,000,000 the present value of currency, aceord
12,200,000 ing to the Income Tax, may be taken
.. 14,900,000 at nearly 120 millions. Supposing, how
15,500,000 ever, that a fourth is concealed, it will
18,832,465 be 160 millions; of which the fixed pro
1791 perty in land and houses are about 30
1795 millions, nearly half of which stands
60,969,899 pledged for the interest of the debt. De
67,634,677 Jucting the sum redeemed,the net interest
75,743,475 semains a fourth of the rentals; conse.
.....b. 81,167,978 quently a fourth of all the land and houses
84,225,110 stand pledged or mortgaged at this moment
.. 93,192,742 to the public creditors, whose right to in
1810 .............. 97,948,034 demnity can never be disputed. The
98,000,009 present annual expenses of the Governi.
1812...............104,000,00 ment outstrip, however, all these consi
* These years are not exactly made up, derations; for it far exceeds the remials but are taken, it is believed, wit bout exagge. of the whole kingdom, and nearly equals ration, and certainly without any desire to all the ascertained income from land, exaggerate. The Exchequer Bills are included, houses, and capital !
as they operate in a certain degree, pro and cos. All exhibiting a regular and invariably Its method of augmenting its own power is increasing series, indicative of the rise in to withdraw from individuals certain prothe nominal price of commodities and portions of their wealth; from a landlabour, and by consequence of a corres- proprietor, it exacts four shillings in the ponding diminution of the value of pound; from a house-owner, as much ; money.
and from a trader, a fifth of his gains. It As this position is absolutely TRUE, thus combines a fifth of the means, which NÉCESSARY, and INCONTROVERTIBLE, how is possessed by the whole population, of is it possible that such a system can last? purchasing the service of others; and it And is there not evident danger that, du. takes away, or would take away, as much ring its paroxysms and violent convuls of those means from all the individuals sions, the constitution and the country of the population. But at this point itself may be overwhelmed and des every system of taxation commences those troyed?
peculiar operations by wbich it coun. Do any rational statesmen suppose it teracts itself, and changes the entire possible that, by any hocus pocus of cur fabric of the money system. rency, or conversion of figures, such an If those who lose a fifth of their inaccumulated expenditure can be met by come, were satisfied to part with a filih, the present, or any, system of taxation the government would enjoy a fifth, and Do they suppose that hundreds of mil- no further result would take place. No lions are to be raised out of chandler's individual of the population is however shops; by assessments on petty articles content to forego any portion of his inof luxury; by taxes on industry; or by come; and, looking only to himself, his the excise system?
own fortune and family, he seeks for the I hope, however, that, after due and means of indemnity, and raises his rentals, mature reflection on the miseries which the price of his commodities, or the impend over the country by the pro- value of his labour. * bable, (I might say, inevitable,) failure of In the course theu of an ascertainable the present system, that a new one will
period, be resorted to, more consistent with equity, and fully equal to the exigencies
As the increased nominal value of pro. of the state. Evil has accumulated on pert
perty and labor is the chief cause of the finanevil in this branch of government, like
cial difficulties of the government, it may be
worth while to trace the minor causes to absurdity on absurdity in our legal code;
which advances may be ascribed, and which bar, unhappily, as the latter is not mea
causes, therefore, aggravate and accelerate the sured by pounds, shillings, and pence, mischief. it may last longer than the former. It 1. There exists a regular inclination of la. is, however, the duty of good subjects, to bour and skill to advance their price, particuaid their government in the hour of difo Jarly during any general rise from other ficulty, by their advice and observations; causes. A has more skill and gets more I shall therefore, on this occasion, freely than B and C. These contrive, however, to aad honestly interpose mine. But, I wish advance to the wages of A; when A makes I could, like our ancient parliaments,
a further advance; and this is the practice of couple grants of wealth to the state, with
all the members of a settled community, and stipulations which should rescue the
has doubtless, in our case, tended to give an
accelerated impetus to the effects of our syspeople from the grinding oppressions of
tem of taxation. legal practice, and of the myrmidons of
2. The pernicious system of discounting our well-intentioned, but abused and im.
manufactured bills by the Bank of England, perfect laws! How glorious would be throws capital into the hands of few besides that day, which rescued England from the mere speculators, who are thus enabled to inquisitions of the Excise and the Pro- buy up all the floating stocks, and sell on perty. Tax; which also rendered it im- their own terms. Such a mode of issuing possible to pack Juries; and which dis currency to the public never before existed in abled pettifogging attornies from com any nation, and its effects evince their sin. mencing civil suits, without the previous gular character in the ruinous state of our sanction of civil grand juries!
finances. Taxation itself has a direct tendency
3. Another co-operating cause of the unto raise the price of every commodity,
due advance of the price of all commodities,
are the operations on a smaller scale of the and is, on that account, the prime cause of
numerous country banks. These, by chiefly our financial distresses. A governmeni re
assisting speculative men, wholesale dealers, quires money, or the power of purchasing and large farmers, (the neck-or-nothing part the means of carrying on wars, and gra- of the community,) work great evils in this tifying its revenge or foolish ambition. way. Nothing will check them, but comMONTHLY MAC. No. 232.
pelling period, individuals counteract the im. dent, that the powers of the Governposts of Government, by a proportionate ment, purchaseable by its revenue of 10 enhancement of their own incomes; first millions, would now be but a sixth of in rentals, then in produce; which ad. the public strength, instead of a fifth; vancing to the consumers of produce, and ibat, to attain its former ratio and creates, in fine, a proportionate advance powers, the imposts must be raised from in the relative value of labour. The la- 10 to 12 millions. bourer, being, however, the last to obtain But the same course would again take indemnity, is the person who suffers the place in the public inind; and indemanity longest and the most by the system. would be sought by every one affected Such are the necessary effects on society by the imposts of the additional (wo milof any permanent and sensible impost of lions, just as in the former instance, in the Government.
'regard to the ten millions. The governObserve, however, in the mean time, ment would therefore possess less power che re-action of the system on the Pub- with the same nominal revenue, and lic Finances. In the outset, the Go- would be compelled in a short period vernment had occasion for a fifth of all again to increase its assessments from 12 the powers of the population, and it to 15 millions, from 15 to 20, 20 to 30, levied a certain annual sum in taxes, 30 to 50, and so on, as long as so artifiannounting at that time to a fifth of the cial a system of society could last. * whole social revenue. For the sake of Suchi would be the consequences of a precision, let us suppose, that at such steady and unvaried expenditure of goperiod the revenues of the population vernment founded on a system of withequalled 50 millions, the Governinent drawing from the people a large proportion collecting a revenue of 10 millions. The of their wealth! But, should the expenses income of the population would thus be of the government be continually extendreduced to 40 millions, but on the systein ed; should it engage in wars of aggression of universal indennification, practised by or anıbition; and expend in single years all the individuals of the population, the suis equal to the whole social revenue, net income would soon be raised again the deleterious impulse of the system tu 50 millions, and the gross income to would be greatly accelerated, and coufu60 millions; the nominal price of com- sion, bankruptcy, and ruin, would be the modities and labour advancing in an speedy and inevitable consequence, equal proportion. It is, however, evi. It mighi be supposed that economists
and statesmen would long ago have reapelling the issuers to give good security for
soned à priori on the effects of such a all they issue; and they will then lend with
system ; but fallible, prejudiced, and shortdue caution. 4. The wholesale purchases of government
sighted human creatures, seldom arrive at tend also to raise the price of all commodities
truth by reasonings à priori. It will even which it consumes, more than would a similar
be a novelty in the bistory of nations, if consumption by private hands. A crisis might any future country should take warning, be deterred, and millions saved, if Govern. and reason d posteriori, froin the example nient made its purchases with more attention and errors of Britain. For, in the very to the state of the markets, divided its orders hour in which we live, our statesmen more, and gave them with greater restriction. seem incapable of reasoning froin the past Fortunes are not only given away by ill. to the future, and continue to drive the timed contracts, but the value of the article
machine of the state with accelerated is mischievously enhanced for the future.
force down a precipice, at the terminaThis improvidence too is the more effective
tion of which it must be dashed in pieces! and pernicious, because at present the government expends in purchases a full balt of No assertion has, I confess, been more the total revenue of the community!
trite than the maxiny that taxation tends 5. A firth great operating cause of to raise the price of commodities-yet it these national difficulties, is the monopoly, has been founded rather on a supposed equally cruel ant impolitic, of land and experience, than on any ascertained con. farms, by which the produce of the soil is nection, as between a cause and its neindefinitely kept from niarket, till its price cessary effect. Iconceive, however, that sasi, fies an overgrown capitalist or speculator. By allowing this practice, the government is instrumental in devouring its own children, - Duubtless too the disposition or solici. but retribution is obtained by the consequent tude of every one to raise the price of his rise in the price of all produce; which, in its labour and commodities would give an impe. turn, if not checked by a better and more tus to the advance beyond the simple effect of humane policy, will devour che government. the original cause.
I lavo I have determined the connection of tbat amount to the general wealth, before this cause and its consequence; and the the year bas expired; consequently, as an existing facts confirm my conclusions. increase of prices always attends taxes,and None will or can contradict me. What augments the public expenditure in more then becomes of the reasonings of Price, than an equal amount, an accumulating and hundreds of others who have sagaci. public fund arising out of any saving ously proposed to pay off the national debt of taxes is a solecism. If, therefore, a hy a system of augmented taxes? Their government attempt to accumulate a plan involves a solecism; yet it has been fund with one hand, like our sinking, persevered in for twenty-six years, and fund, by means of taxes; the effect of has been the darling system of successive those taxes themselves will be to augment statesmen! Aye, in defiance too of the the expenses of the government, on the facts, that, while a sinking-fund has been other hand, in a higher ratio than that generating 15 millions, the national ex of the sum to be annually saved or accu. penditure has been augmented from 12 mulated. In consequence, the government to 100 millions; that the price of every will always bave to borrow or expend more cominodity has been trebled ; and that than it can save, or to expend more on the debt has been augmented above 700 account of its endeavour to save! millions, while the sinking fund has lie The effect of taxation on society, by quidated but 215 millions!*
exciting individual contrivances, which On so important a topic I ought to en- lead to universal indemnity against those large, that I may be thoroughly under. taxes, renders it, therefore, necessarily stood. I assert then, that the price of and absolutely impossible, for a govern. commodities will always follow a system ment to accumulate an isolated fund of taxation so closely, that, if the taxes by a system of taxation; consequently are any fixed sum, even for a year, the a national debt can never be paid off by advances will tend to diminish the ratio of such fund, and all that has been pre
tended on that subject is a radical inis• The closet speculations of the worthy take and a gross and pernicious delusion! Dr. Price, were arithmetically correct, as far The facts confirm my reasoning, and as regarded the relations of different members
my solution applies with equal force to of the same community towards each other;
all the phenomena. There is consequently but they are delusory in regard to a totality
no danger of mistake in this very impor. which has none of the distinct relations, out of which the accumulation of compound in
tant, and, to the writer, very painful, conterest is raised. If we suppose a total society
clusion. Let iis see, however, whether to consist of the twenty-six letters of the al our statesmen will have virtue enough to phabet; a, b, c, and d, might effect an barm. acknowledge their errors, and sufficient less accumulation of compound interest, by public spirit to apply the necessary corlending to e. f. e, and the other members of rectives! Mr. Vansittart is the only the community, and the advantages would Chancellor of the Exchequer that for be relative in regard to each other. But the many years has had the honesty to deGovernment, as the representative of the to clare any thing like the trath; and there tality, could not work a system of compound is merit in the rare political quality of interest for the whole, because, with reference
honesty, though it may fail in its purto the totality, the borrowers and lenders,
poses. Whether he arrive at his conclu. are the same. To illustrate this by a fami
sions by means of the same premises, I liar example, the government might as well become the purchaser of its own lotteries,
know not; but we both agree in the prinand calculate on the benefits of its monopoly
ciple, that, as the lands and other proof the prizes! The calculations of Dr. Price perty of the country stand mortgaged to were well adapted to promote the scheme of the public creditors as the price of the Equitable Assurance Company, because twenty years' gratification in wars, those it draws into its coffers the wealth of its lands, houses, and property, must now Co-members in the community; but, with re. be seized for the benefit of the mortgagee, ference to a totality having no co members,
as it seems in possible for the present posa compound-interest project is like a proposal
sessor to pay the interest and subsist on for a man to facten himself by sucking his
the overplus! Those who have so often own blood. That excellent man, in like
pledged their lives and fortunes will manner, amused himself by calculating the
surely not murmur, like Esop's Old Man, number of solid earths of gold which a far. thing would accumulate in 1770 years; but no
when called upon by Death, whom he William Pitt has yet appeared, whose tempo
had invoked with like solemnity; and rizing spirit has led him to delude the public,
those who have made no such pledges by attempting to realize the project!
ought not now to murmur, their indifferGo 2
ence having rendered them culpable, or may even yet be restored to the vigor their silence having made them parties to in which it was left by Lord Chatham the public measures of our warlike rulers. in 1761.
In the aphorisms printed in your My other plans, taken alone, or in 230th Number, I have proved that the conjunction with the above, are, prosperity of nations depends in a consi- 1. To remove the present ministers and derable degree on their possessing a suf- totally change their system and measures. ficient quantity of circulating medium 2. To acceide to the earnest solicitations that currency is the main spring of inter- of France, Europe, and America, for e course that a diminution of currency de. general Peuce. teriorates the value of all property-de- 3. To inquire after and punish the presses the energies of trade and the criminal instigators of the latcand present public impetus and leads to the decay wars. and fall of nations. I conceive, therefore, 4. To levy an impost of four shillings that a judicious distribution of a valid in the pound on all fired and funded proand well secured currency, among all perty, so as to raise from those special branches of productive labor, will pro. sources the sum necessary to pay the net mote public spirit in like manner as ma- interest of the public debt, nure invigorates the soil.--will repay the 5. To give the parties the option of state ten-fold-and be the means of re-' buying up the same in stock within three novating our finances, and sustaining the years at a maximum, so as to extinguish resources and power of the empire. the Tar and the National Debt in that Next to this will be the substitution of a period. SOLID and PRODUCTIVE, in place of a pet. 6. To withdraw the fifteen millions of ty and vexatious, system of taxation; by taxes now raised for the support of the which capital and fixed property shall be Sinking Fund, viz, the income tax, and made to contribute their requisite propor various tares on necessaries. tions to those necessities of the state 7. To tur the fixed and funded pro. which bave arisen, or which the proprie- perty in like manner at periods when. tors admit to have arisen, in their de. ever a public debt becomes a public bur.
then, so as at once to liquidate such A confiscation of part of every man's debt by the redemption of the tar. estate seems therefore to have become 8. To abolish the Ercise system, and all necessary for the security of the re- means of raising taxes which imfringe on mainder; but, before this measure is re. the liberties, comforts, and independence, sorted to, I should hope that, after libe of the people, und raise the great tares Tally providing for the church, the church by imposts on fixed property. lands, and the tythes; the waste lands; 9. To issue no paper currency ercept The crown lands; the corporation estates; on the security of fixed property, specially the feudal rights; and many other re- pledged for its periodical redemption, sub serves on land, may be sold for equi. ject to the limitations and regulations valents of stock, so as to liquidate part, pointed out in a former paper. if not the whole, of the debts, out of these 10. The above affords satisfaction for genuine and tangible resources ofthe realm, the past ;-then, as security for the future, At any rate, sacrifices must be made, in regard to Justice, Liberty, Property, and it is now too late to murmur, or to pay and Prosperity, let the people be fully and for our errors by mere repentance. We fairly represented in the Commons' House must fully atone for the past; and may of Partiament. tlie price of our atonement teach us wis- Pride and power may revolt at these don for the future!
required concessions; but, if the country The picture is gloomy, and it ought to is to be saved from impending destruction, be so; for the political sins of the nation, at least, what is here proposed must be jn waging twenty years' wars, merit the performed with good faiths and promptiwrath of offended justice. I do not, tude! Should the fortunate Genius of however, cuncejve our case to be wholly Britain direct her councils at this crisis, irretrievable; on the contrary, I think she may yet maintain for ages her ascens that, with some abatement of balional dency among the nations. But, should the pride, some respect to suffering humanity, hearts of her rulers be unhappily hardened some deference to truth and reason, and by presumption and pride; should they a moderate portion of courage and perse- turii a deaf ear to the warnings of patioverance, the ricketty machine of the state tism), the voice of truth, and the calls of