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|Public Finance; Bastable, Charles F.|
5 paragraphs found.
French economists and financial theorists were more impressed by the negative side of Adam Smith's teaching, a tendency that was much strengthened by the works of J. B. Say—
Traité d'Économie Politique (1803), and
Cours Complet (1828)—who was disposed to undervalue the services of the State even in the discharge of its necessary functions. The very complicated financial system of France has, however, led to its study from the administrative point of view, and special financial questions have received much more attention from French than from English economists. There are numerous treatises on 'Taxation' and 'Public Revenue,' marked by a general disposition to lay stress on the principles of natural right and justice as against economic expediency. Most French writers also exhibit a strong dislike to any financial measures believed to savour of socialism,
e.g. progressive taxation, or even an income-tax. With rare exceptions—such as the work of Canard already mentioned, and the remarkable studies of Cournot—they show little taste for deductive reasoning or for the discussion of questions like that of the incidence of taxation which needs its use. On the other hand, they are prolific in historical and statistical works such as those of Vuitry, Clamageran, Stourm, De Parieu, Vignes, Audriffret, and Gomel; the great
Dictionnaire des Finances (2 vols., 1894), issued under M. Leon Say's superintendence, is a storehouse of materials on French financial administration. In the convenient work of Garnier,
Traité des Finances (4
me éd. 1883), and the more brilliant treatise of Leroy-Beaulieu,
Science des Finances (6
me éd. 1899), they have text-books of a high order, the last-mentioned work in particular being remarkable for fulness of information and lucidity of style. Up to the present the dislike to state action is a distinctive note of French financial work, and in this respect it furnishes a useful corrective to the doctrines prevalent in Germany.
§ 10. At a comparatively early period questions relating to public revenue and expenditure had attracted attention in Italy. The work of Broggia (1743) has been described as 'the earliest methodical treatise on taxes'; and several of the economists of the latter half of the eighteenth century examined the effects of taxation, and especially of those taxes actually levied in their country. The influence of Adam Smith and J. B. Say was for some time predominant in Italy as elsewhere. The development of financial science in Germany has, however, deeply affected Italian students, who have zealously devoted themselves to the examination of financial subjects, bringing to bear on their selected topics considerable independence of mind, and at the same time a thorough acquaintance with what has been already accomplished.
Amongst general works may be noticed the condensed outline by L. Cossa (7
ma ed. 1896) a short treatise by Ricca-Salerno, written under the influence of the Austrian theory of value, the larger manual of Flora, and the more important and comprehensive treatise of Graziani (
Instituzioni di Scienza delle Finanze, 1897), which may fitly rank with the best text books of other countries. The fundamental principles of finance have been examined by Viti de Marco, Mazzola, and Zorli, in common with the theory of marginal utility. In like manner the difficult problems of shifting and incidence have been investigated by Pantaleoni and Conigliani; and studies on progressive taxation have been made by Mazzola, and Martello, and in a specially elaborate form by Masè, Dari. The problems of 'double taxation' (Garelli), and the tax systems of federal states (Flora) have also been considered. Questions of local taxation have attracted attention and been considered in the monographs of Alessio and Lacava, but more thoroughly in the very complete work of Conigliani (
La Riforma delle leggi sui Tributi Locali, 1898). Alessio has also supplied a standard treatise on Italian finance. When the special articles in the
Giornale degli Economisti and other journals are added, it may be said that Italy ranks next to Germany in the production of scientific works on finance.
The text-books of General Walker, Dr. Sidgwick, and Prof. Marshall are instances. The separation between capitalist and entrepreneur is made both by J. B. Say and Rau.
Though the general current of economic opinion has till recently been decidedly against the idea of progression, the system has secured the adhesion of some eminent authorities. A passage of Montesquieu's has been often quoted in its favour, in which, speaking of the Athenian property tax, he says, 'it was just though not proportional; if it did not follow the proportion of goods, it followed the proportion of wants. It was thought that each had equal physical necessities, which ought not to be taxed; that what was useful came next, and should be taxed, but not so highly as superfluities.'
Rousseau and the elder Mirabeau took the same view. In the nineteenth century J. B. Say and Joseph Garnier approved of a system of moderate progression. The former 'did not fear to declare that progressive taxation was the only equitable form'; the latter held that 'taxation ought to be progressive without spoliation.'
Still the weight of authority was on the other side. 'Progressive taxation,' like 'protection' or 'a double standard,' was an heretical tenet opposed to the true economic faith. Alike in England, France, and Germany it was rejected by such representatives of competent opinion as J. S. Mill and McCulloch, Levasseur and De Parieu, Gneist and Hermann.
Garnier calls his system 'progressional.' See J. B. Say,
Traité, Bk. iii. ch. 9; Garnier,
Traité des Finances, 68.