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Willisms

« Happy Birthday, Marbury v. Madison | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 278 -- Less Competitive Congressional Districts. »

Quotational Therapy: Part 76 -- Jean-Baptiste Say, On Taxation.

A French Free-Marketeer-

Believe it or not, France was once a bastion of free market thought. Ahead of his time, Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Say was one of the original free market economists, supporting free trade against the common demagogic urges of nationalist protectionism that often still prevail today. He also supported low taxes.

jeanbaptistesay.gif

Here's what he had to say in 1803 on taxation:

It may be urged, that the pressure of taxation impels the productive classes to redouble their exertions, and thus tends to enlarge the national production. I answer, that, in the first place, mere exertion cannot alone produce, there must be capital for it to work upon, and capital is but an accumulation of the very products that taxation takes from the subject: that, in the second place, it is evident, that the values, which industry creates expressly to satisfy the demands of taxation, are no increase of wealth; for they are seized on and devoured by taxation. It is a glaring absurdity to pretend that taxation contributes to national wealth, by engrossing part of the national produce, and enriches the nation by consuming part of its wealth….

Hence, it is manifest that, although taxation may be, and often is, productive of good, when the sums it absorbs are properly applied, yet, the act of levying is always attended with mischief in the outset….

Admitting these premises, that taxation is the taking from individuals a part of their property for public purposes; that the value levied by taxation never reverts to the members of the community, after it has once been taken from them; and that taxation is not itself a means of reproduction; it is impossible to deny the conclusion, that the best taxes, or, rather those that are least bad, are

1. Such as are most moderate in their ratio.
2. Such as are least attended with those vexatious circumstances that harass the taxpayer without bringing anything into the public exchequer.
3. Such as press impartially on all classes.
4. Such as are least injurious to production.
5. Such as are rather favorable than otherwise to the national morality; that is to say, to the prevalence of habits, useful and beneficial to society.

-Jean-Baptise Say, A Treatise on Political Economy, 447– 49.

Source:
The Dallas Fed (.pdf).


-----------------------------

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

George Washington, Questioning The Patriotism Of Democrats.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 February 2006 07:59 AM

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