Economic Sophisms/198

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XII.

 

THE SALT-TAX, RATES OF POSTAGE, AND CUSTOMHOUSE DUTIES.

WE expected some time ago to see our representative machinery produce an article quite new, the manufacture of which had not as yet been attempted—namely, the relief of the taxpayer.

All was expectation. The experiment was interesting, as well as new. The motion of the machine disturbed nobody. In this respect, its performance was admirable, no matter at what time, in what place, or under what circumstances it was set agoing.

But as regarded those reforms which were to simplify, equalize, and lighten the public burdens, no one has yet been able to find out what has been accomplished.

It was said: You shall soon see; wait a little; this popular result involves the labours of four sessions. The year 1842 gave us railways; 1846 is to give us the reduction of the salt-tax and of the rates of postage; in 1850 we are to have a reformation of the tariff and of indirect taxation. The fourth session is to be the jubilee of the taxpayer.

Men were full of hope, for everything seemed to favour the experiment. The Moniteur had announced that the revenue would go on increasing every quarter, and what better use could be made of these unlooked-for returns than to give the villager a little more salt to his eau tiéde, and an additional letter now and then from the battle-field, where his son was risking his life?

But what has happened? Like the two preparations of sugar which are said to hinder each other from crystallizing, or the Kilkenny cats, which fought so desperately that nothing remained of them but their tails, the two promised reforms have swallowed up each other. Nothing remains of them but the tails; that is to say, we have projets de lois, exposés des motifs, reports, statistical returns, and schedules, in which we have the comfort of seeing our sufferings philanthropicaUy appreciated and homœopathically reckoned up. But as to the reforms Template:HwsTemplate:Smallrefs