Readings on the Relation of Government to Property and Industry

By Samuel P. Orth | Go to book overview

United States -- that they may be exercised for any indirect purpose not so arbitrary as to be a taking of property without due process of law.

Within this principle Congress may apparently regulate the purely internal business of a state by taxing objectionable features of it so heavily that they will no longer be profitable. Regulation by taxation may thus become an important item in future governmental programs. One instance of it we have already in operation as incidental to the present federal tax upon corporate earnings, namely the requirement of a certain amount of publicity regarding corporate business. The Esch Phosphorus law is another.

Finally, as a last resort, Congress might deny the privileges of the mails to businesses, which, though operating wholly within a state, persisted in practices that Congress within a reasonable discretion saw fit to disapprove, following the precedent of the lottery cases.

To sum up, therefore, through taxation, through its postal powers, through its control over interstate commerce, and particularly through its control over corporations engaged in interstate commerce, Congress probably has the power effectively to regulate the capitalization, the production, and the distribution of all large commercial businesses in this country. The practical difficulties of doing this wisely are obviously very great, but I believe that statutes, carefully drawn to effect their purpose within the limits here indicated, may constitutionally provide for any form of regulation of big business in this country that has as yet been seriously proposed.


THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF GOVERNMENT AID

BY FRANK J. GOODNOW, PRESIDENT OF JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

(From "Social Reform and the Constitution," chap. viii. The Macmillan Co. Copyrighted)


I. PROPER PURPOSES OF TAXATION

The question of the constitutionality of government aid to the needy classes in the community may arise because of the existence of the rule which forbids the exercise of the powers of taxation and eminent domain for any but a public purpose.

The general principle that the purpose for which taxes may be levied and property may be taken must be public is perfectly clear, but the principle is to be applied in the light of our history. For a long time prior to the adoption of the principle, both these powers

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