Quote of the Day for December 14, 2017


348: From Hume, Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, Part II, Essay VIII, OF TAXES:

    It is an opinion, zealously promoted by some politicalwriters, that, since all taxes, as they pretend, fall ultimatelyupon land, it were better to lay them originally there, andabolish every duty upon consumptions. But it is denied, that alltaxes fall ultimately upon land. If a duty be laid upon anycommodity, consumed by an artisan, he has two obvious expedientsfor paying it; he may retrench somewhat of his expence, or he mayencrease his labour. Both these resources are more easy andnatural, than that of heightening his wages. We see, that, inyears of scarcity, the weaver either consumes less or laboursmore, or employs both these expedients of frugality and industry,by which he is enabled to reach the end of the year. It is butjust, that he should subject himself to the same hardships, ifthey deserve the name, for the sake of the publick, which giveshim protection. By what contrivance can he raise the price of hislabour? The manufacturer who employs him, will not give him more:Neither can he, because the merchant, who exports the cloth,cannot raise its price, being limited by the price which ityields in foreign markets. Every man, to be sure, is desirous ofpushing off from himself the burden of any tax, which is imposed,and of laying it upon others: But as every man has the sameinclination, and is upon the defensive; no set of men can besupposed to prevail altogether in this contest. And why thelanded gentleman should be the victim of the whole, and shouldnot be able to defend himself, as well as others are, I cannotreadily imagine....

    II.VIII.10 (paragraph number)

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