Taxation in American States and Cities

By Richard T. Ely | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV.
A FEW GENERAL, REMARKS ON THE WORKINGS OF TAXATION.

TAXES OFTEN YIELD LARGER RETURNS THAN ORDINARY EXPENDITURES.

TAXATION seems like a simple thing to one who has never reflected on its nature and consequences. When, however, one begins seriously to examine the financial systems of different ages and of different countries, one must be profoundly impressed with the far-reaching importance of taxation. Taxation may create monopolies or it may prevent them; it may diffuse wealth or it may concentrate it; it may promote liberty and equality of rights, or it may tend to the establishment of tyranny and despotism; it may be used to bring about reforms, or it may be so laid as to aggravate existing grievances and foster dissension and hatred between classes; taxation may be so contrived by the skilful hand as to give free scope to every opportunity for the creation of wealth or for the advancement of all true interests of states and cities, or it may be so shaped by ignoramuses as to place a dead weight on a community in the race for industrial supremacy.1

There are those who claim that when the state takes ten dollars from me, I am simply ten dollars poorer, and that

____________________
1
It is proper to say that some of these observations are quoted from one of my articles on "Problems of To-day" which appeared during the past winter in the Baltimore Sun.

-55-

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