Economic Sophisms/206

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<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"the oft-repeated declaration of the Anti-Corn-Law League: 'Without the penny postage we should never have had developed that public opinion which has overturned the system of protection.' All this is confirmed by what we read in a work emanating from an official source:—

Template:Fs90/s "'The rates of postage should be regulated, not with a view to revenue, but for the sole purpose of covering the expense.' Template:Fs90/e

"To which Mr Macgregor adds : —

Template:Fs90/s "'It is true that the rate having come down to our smallest coin, we cannot lower it further, although it does yield some revenue. But this source of revenue, which will go on constantly increasing, must be employed to improve the service, and to develop our system of mail steamers all over the world.' Template:Fs90/e

"This brings me to examine the leading idea of the commission, which is, on the other hand, that the rate of postage should be a source of revenue to government.

"This idea runs through your entire report, and I allow that, under the influence of this prejudice, you could arrive at nothing great or comprehensive, and you are fortunate if, in trying to reconcile the two systems, you have not fallen into the errors and drawbacks of both.

"The first question we have to consider is this: Is the correspondence which passes between individual citizens a proper subject of taxation?

"I shall not fall back on abstract principles, or remind you that the very essence of society being the communication of ideas, the object of every government should be to facilitate and not impede this communication.

"Let us look to actual facts.

"The total length of our highways and departmental and country roads extends to a million of kilometres (625,000 miles). Supposing that each has cost 100,000 francs (£4000), this makes a capital of 100 milliards (£4,000,000,000) expended by the State to facilitate the transport of passengers and goods.

"Now, put the question, if one of your honourable colleagues asked leave of the Chamber to bring in a bill thus conceived:

Template:Fs90/s "'From and after 1st January next, the Government will levy upon all travellers a tax sufficient not only to cover the expense of maintaining the highways, but to bring back to the Exchequer four or five times the amount of that expense.…' Template:Fs90/e

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