London: Macmillan and Co., Limited
THE ECONOMIC OR QUASI-PRIVATE RECEIPTS
BOOK II, CHAPTER I
THE FORMS AND CLASSIFICATION OF PUBLIC REVENUE
§ 1. A system of public expenditure such as has been examined in the preceding book requires as its necessary basis a corresponding public revenue. State economy is in nowise exempt from that condition of all private economies which makes it essential to provide that consumption shall be balanced by production, and that effort must be put forth in order to procure satisfaction. In respect to the public power there is a wider field, but no change in the nature of things; the correlation of exertion and enjoyment holds here as elsewhere, and if temporarily disturbed is certain to be sooner or later reestablished. All financial systems are in fact compelled to recognise the relation, though political exigencies may sometimes make it inconvenient to adopt a line of conduct completely in accordance with that recognition. Every Parliamentary Government has arrangements for raising funds as well as for granting supplies. In England the Committee of Ways and Means is parallel to the Committee of Supply, as in the United States the small House Committee on Ways and Means is to the Committee on 'Appropriations.' The raising of revenue has to be formally separated from the more agreeable occupation of applying it for the public requirements. Public revenue being thus the counterpart or obverse of expenditure, it becomes our duty to consider its forms and sources, and to see how far they admit of logical grouping and arrangement.
§ 2. This, like most financial questions, needs to be studied at first from the historical side. The early tribe shows us expenditure and revenue in combination; the services and commodities required for public use are directly levied and applied to the particular end. When once this primitive stage is passed, revenue as distinct from expenditure emerges, and its collection and administration become matters of vital concern to the growing state organisation. It is true that for a long time contributions of goods are levied in kind, but their employment is more complicated, and involves redistribution of the different forms of wealth obtained by the State. With the introduction of money, the divorce between the revenue collected and the expenditure undertaken is finally established, since public agents can directly buy what they need for the public service, while the revenue is brought in under the form of the general medium of exchange. What strikes the observer most forcibly in contemplating this development is the extreme variety of the forms of revenue or state receipts. Dues levied on land, on goods of all kinds, on the performance of different acts, in addition to the several kinds of individual revenue, are enjoyed by the State. The Egyptian revenues under the Ptolemies were of the most varied kinds. The Roman finances received contributions from very many and diverse sources, and so did the Exchequers of mediæval sovereigns. When we run over the long lists that appear in legal and historical works treating of this side of mediæval law and economy, the greatest difficulty is to reduce them to some manageable form. This complexity seems to have puzzled the earliest scientific students of finance. Bodin, as noticed before, arranged the sources of revenue under seven heads, but Klock, who fairly represents the German views of the seventeenth century, gives a far more extensive list. The 'chamber science' writers were more successful in grouping the forms of revenue under (1) those from the domain of the sovereign, (2) the so-called 'regalia' or prerogative rights, and (3) taxes. In Adam Smith's hands the double aspect of the State became the basis of classification. Regarded as an artificial personality, or (in the language of modern jurisprudence) 'juristic person,' it might hold property and engage in trade. Revenue obtained in such ways 'peculiarly belonged to the sovereign.' It was his quasi-private income. In another aspect, as sovereign or supreme power he was able to impose charges on the revenues of his subjects, and these contributions or 'taxes' formed the second group of state receipts. The simplicity and clearness of this classification commended itself to English and French writers, who have almost universally adopted it. The greater political development of France and England, by making taxation the most important part of the state income, favoured its acceptance. The remains of the feudal system were more numerous in Germany, and its methods of finance in particular, with all their variety and confusion, were slow in disappearing from that country. Consequently German Finanzwissenschaft aimed at so arranging the forms of revenue as to give harmony and consistency to the existing systems. The 'regalia' or prerogatives were always regarded with particular attention, and it was sought to place them alongside of taxation as a head of revenue.
Rau is in great measure responsible for another addition to the main groups, viz. that of 'fees' (Gebühren). He noticed that in many cases public institutions gave special benefits for which they charged an equivalent; e.g. in law proceedings fees were asked from the litigants. It was natural to regard this class of objects, denoted by a special name (Gebuhr), as a separate and independent form of revenue, giving as a final result that state receipts were distributed under four heads: (1) Private industry of State, (2) Prerogative rights, (3) Fees, (4) Taxes. On this classification of public revenues most of the controversies as to arrangement in German financial works turn. It is too plain for dispute that the first and fourth of the above-mentioned heads must be kept apart, but in the endeavour to bring the two intermediate divisions into some form of combination with them, great difference of opinion is to be found. Some writers oppose 'Taxes' to the three other forms of revenue, which are joined under some more general term. Others place Taxes and 'Fees' under one head, and oppose them to the 'quasi-private income' and prerogative dues, or with greater wisdom eliminate the latter from the division altogether. There is even a decided tendency in the latest inquirers to come back by a somewhat devious route to the plainer position of Adam Smith, and to recognise only the two great divisions of state revenue into (1) quasi-private and (2) public, though distinguishing, as he has done, the various cases of extra payment for special services. A detailed examination of the many points raised in the controversy on this subject of classification would lead us too far, but some of the results are too important to be altogether passed over, and must therefore be briefly noted.
§ 3. First, it is abundantly established that much of the difficulty of classification arises from the historical peculiarities of different countries. The whole doctrine of the regalia is an instance in point. It was the result of attempting to apply the special German forms of revenue, due to the slow development of the financial system, as general categories suited for all times and places. A particular kind of state rights was opposed to the general state right to raise funds, of which it was but one part.
A second result of the discussions on arrangement is that the many and varied shapes of public revenue do not always admit of sharp and clear-cut divisions. Just as in economics we pass by a series of steps from the purest form of productive capital to what could not by any straining of terms be regarded as such, so do we find many transitional forms between what is the State's private income and what it gains by pure taxation. The attempt to create a co-ordinate class composed of 'fees' parallel to taxes is the outcome of this circumstance, as also of the want of analytic power in the originator of the classification. If Rau had recognised the frequent combination of the double elements of state industry and taxation under the apparently simple and independent form of revenue, he would have aimed at separating and assigning to its proper place each of those elements, while he duly noted the intermediate forms that presented most difficulty. The department of fees (Gebühren) touches at one end the quasi-private income of the State, and at the other, as in the case of 'taxes on commerce,' the field of taxation, but it has no central point possessing well-assigned and definite features, and enabling us to give a definition that is at once rational and useful in practice.
A third conclusion is also warranted, viz. that it is easy to overrate the value of precise and rigid classification. We need not deny that a good and natural grouping (i.e. a grouping in accordance with the real affinities of the objects dealt with) is very helpful both for exposition and investigation. By its aid, features of resemblance and of contrast are most easily perceived, and new and hitherto neglected relations are often suggested; but notwithstanding these undeniable advantages, the most essential matter after all is to give adequate and proper treatment to the material of study, and even with a somewhat faulty arrangement this end can be attained. And not only so; the merits of any particular classification depend partly on the end in view. In a purely historical inquiry the class of regalia is entitled to a prominence to which it has no claim when a scientific exposition of principles is specially desired. So in descriptive and statistical works the terms and divisions adopted by positive financial legislation have to be followed, subject to whatever qualifications scientific arrangement may necessitate. In an investigation of general finance, the grouping of topics ought to be based on the underlying economic and social conditions, and aim at bringing out their relations as clearly as possible. Besides, different arrangements naturally tend to place different parts of the subject in prominence, and thus study of a new, even if on the whole inferior, system of grouping will suggest novel points of view to the inquirer.
§ 4. We have already suggested in the preceding criticisms the arrangement that appears to be most suitable. It has now to be more fully stated. The widest division of public revenue is into (1) that obtained by the State in its various functions as a great corporation or 'juristic person,' operating under the ordinary conditions that govern individuals or private companies, and (2) that taken from the revenues of the society by the power of the sovereign. To the former class belong the rents received by the State as landlord, rent charges due to it, interest on capital lent by it, the earnings of its various employments, whether these cover the expenses of the particular function or not, and finally the accrual of property by escheat or absence of a visible owner. Under the second class have to be placed taxes, either general or special, and finally all extra returns obtained by state industrial agencies through the privileges granted to them. This course seems best calculated to satisfy the conditions of scientific accuracy and practical convenience. It places together distinct and well-defined parts of public revenue, and it separates the economic from the compulsory receipts of the State.
To test it in its relation to other divisions, we may consider the place it assigns to (1) the prerogative dues and (2) 'fees.' If these classes can be fittingly placed, then the arrangement may be said to be justified. A very slight examination shows that many, if not most, of the prerogatives or regalia are really special property-rights. Roscher has noticed that they originated in the mixture of landed property and sovereignty. They are thus in their right place when classed along with other economic sources of revenue. In some instances, however, an element of monopoly created by law comes in, and where there is an additional receipt from this condition it is certainly a tax, and must find its place in the compulsory revenue of the State.
Fees admit of a somewhat similar analysis. Usually they are but a small return for the expenses of the state agency to which they are paid, and find a position among the private economic receipts as a deduction from the expenditure. It may even be best to subtract them from the expenses and charge the balance as net outlay, though in practice the wisdom of bringing all expenditure and receipts (not merely balances) into the budget is well established. In some cases it happens that fees just cover all expenses, and then the public office or agency is a state industry that pays its way. Up to the point at which ordinary profit is obtained the same title is justified, but when (the institution being exclusively a public one) ordinary profit is exceeded, the monopoly possessed by the office is employed for taxation. It therefore follows—and this is perhaps the greatest difficulty that our classification raises—that one and the same public institution may occupy different positions in this respect at different places or times. The Post Office, for example, may be a purely public function involving expenditure, as the earliest government Posts probably did; it may in another country, or at a later time, just cover its expenses, or even pay fair interest on whatever capital it employs,—such has been at times the position of the United States Post; or, lastly, it may, as in England at present, give a large surplus to the general revenue, when its charges become a tax on communications, though, as we shall see, sometimes admitting of full justification. In truth this apparent defect is a reason in favour of our grouping of the forms of revenue. Such institutions as the Post Office are in this respect different in different countries, but in all they are capable of presenting the three elements of expenditure, industrial revenue, and tax revenue. In treating of economic expenditure we have already noticed the first aspect; in the present book we shall consider the second, reserving the last for its appropriate place.
Some classes of fees, e.g. law fees, are closely connected with the primary functions of the State. They then approach so nearly to taxation as to be best classed with it. There is an appearance of straining the conception of state industry by including them under that head. Here acquaintance with the historical development is of use in establishing that in their origin such fees were strictly payment for service done; and even when this element has been obscured by the increase of state power, it gives place to that of special as opposed to general advantage, a distinction on which so much of local taxation turns, and which can be applied to the class of fees under consideration.
§ 5. So much suffices at present with reference to the general classification of public revenues. We have now to arrange the subdivisions of the quasi-private income in their natural order. The great importance of this part of the receipts in less developed societies made it a subject of greater attention formerly than it is now, and led to those long lists of the heads of revenue above referred to. The modern student of finance gains little from these enumerations, made in all cases from the legal or administrative point of view, but he is impressed by the fact that such receipts are regarded as the 'ordinary' revenue of the State, taxation being merely an occasional resource. This idea survives in Blackstone's chapter on 'The King's Revenue,' where the tax revenue is regarded as 'extraordinary.' Even such recent writers as Mr. Dicey have to notice this division, and the fact that the change in circumstances has made the old terms seem incongruous. A classification of the quasi-private funds of the State must, it would seem, have to follow the lines of the analysis of individual incomes made by economic science. One of the most valuable of Adam Smith's investigations was that presented in his chapter on 'the component parts of the price of commodities,' since it not only gave a starting point for all later analyses of cost of production, but it afforded in outline a scheme of economic distribution, and it is on it that the discussion of taxation in the Wealth of Nations is based. Its main point consists in showing that all incomes can be separated and referred to one or more of the three categories of rent—the return on natural agents; wages—the reward of labour; and profit—the gain on capital. The State's economic revenue must be capable of being put under the same heads, but the general doctrine, as it appears in the work of its originator, requires two corrections before we can use it in this connexion; for first, the massing together of the interest on capital and the earnings made by its productive use is now perceived to be inaccurate. The function of the capitalist is distinct from that of the 'undertaker' or 'employer,' and is so distinguished in later economic works. Another correction is needed for the present application. The category of 'wages' cannot enter into the public receipts; the State often pays, but never receives, a reward for labour. Any apparent exceptions really come under the head of 'undertaking' or 'management' of industry. We thus get three broad divisions of the public industrial revenues, viz. (1) the receipts of administrations, central or local, from rent of land or similar natural agents; (2)—and this is obviously a less important source—the gains of the State as capitalist or lender of funds; and (3) the returns to the industrial activities of the public power. Such a grouping would appear to be clear and logical, but it needs some further modification to bring it more into accordance with the realities of actual finance. Instead of confining our attention to the State as a landlord in receipt of rent, we shall find it more convenient to consider all its dealings with its agricultural property, whether retained in its own hands or let out to tenants. In like manner the treatment of mines may most suitably be placed along with the State's action as employer or undertaker of industrial operations. Two additional topics will also have to be brought into the list. The many and various fees and dues may be combined with the rent-charges and other settled sums payable to the State, and also with the interest on loans made by state authorities, the whole class being connected by the common idea of fixed payment, that is for the most part capable of capitalisation. And finally, to the revenue-yielding industrial domain we ought to add those forms of state property that either give no direct returns or whose expenses exceed any receipts that they may bring in.
In short, to sum up, our discussion of the public economic revenue may, partly on grounds of logical arrangement partly for practical convenience, deal with (1) returns from land, including forests, (2) industrial revenue, (3) payments which either represent, or can be converted into, a capital charge, with much administrative revenue, and (4) those forms of property that yield not revenue, but utility in a less distinctly measurable form.
Since the publication of the first edition of this book, the question of classification has been discussed by Professor Seligman in a special article, in which vigorous criticism of the views of preceding writers is accompanied by the exposition of a new mode of grouping, believed to be more in accordance with logical requirements. As the acceptance of this system would necessitate extensive changes in the arrangement adopted in the text, it seems right to state briefly the reasons for retaining out former classification.
The general advantages that result from a good method of grouping public revenues are admirably stated by Professor Seligman, whose opening pages may be referred to as supporting what has been said above on that subject. A single point of difference should, however, be noticed. We have sought all through to insist on the essentially relative character of classification. No system is in itself absolutely good or bad; each must be judged by its fitness for the purpose for which it is employed. And further, a system will hardly combine all possible advantages with no disadvantages. Any arrangement will probably have something to recommend it, and will bring out features that would remain unnoticed in a different system. On the other hand, Professor Seligman appears at times to maintain that there is one, and but one, perfectly logical arrangement, compared with which all others must be regarded as altogether erroneous. It is true he admits that historical circumstances may alter the mode of classifying, but for modern times no such allowance is to be made, and the least departure from the one 'correct' classification becomes deserving of censure. This view is, however, far too narrow. As Jevons points out, the distinction between 'natural' and 'artificial' systems of classification is really one of degree. When we are dealing with the classification of organic species, there is the guiding principle of arrangement according to descent, which makes the genealogical grouping the scientific one. But in such subjects as grammar, jurisprudence, legislation, and finance, this element is a subordinate one, and we have to take into account the convenience of a classification in considering the advisability of its adoption. Such is the procedure recommended alike by logic and the practice of the best investigators in those branches of knowledge. Applying this test to the particular matter in hand, we cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that the arrangement in the text, if less elaborate and less complicated than Professor Seligman's, is at least as well suited to exhibit in their order the chief features of interest in the financial system. The briefest inspection of the receipts obtained by public authorities suffices to establish the existence of (1) economic revenue and (2) taxes as the two great forms of income. These are broadly contrasted, and must form the basis of any division: it is to their discussion that by much the largest part of any work on the subject must be devoted, and it is by the way in which he handles them that a writer will be judged. Now is there any other form of revenue that can fitly be regarded as 'co-ordinate' with these great categories? To this question Professor Seligman replies in the affirmative, while the answer we have already given is in the negative. To justify our position, let us briefly consider the three classes of receipts which are put forward as entitled to so prominent a situation. These may be briefly described as consisting of 'fines,' 'fees,' and 'special assessments.'
'Fines and penalties,' we read, 'form by themselves a class of compulsory revenues, levied according to definite but non-fiscal principles. It is obviously wrong to class them with fees as do some writers, or to ignore them entirely as do others.' It is, of course, true that fines are a part of state receipts which should not be 'ignored,' but it is equally true that they cannot be regarded as co-ordinate with taxes or economic revenue. Their yield is trivial, and their relation to the financial organisation of the State is remote. To give a separate book of a treatise on finance to fines and penalties would, to adopt Austin's phrase, 'somewhat smack of the ridiculous.' The slightest and most cursory mention is the one best suited to give the reader a proper feeling of their financial insignificance.
With respect to 'fees' the case is different. A plausible argument may be framed in support of an arrangement that puts them in a prominent place, but, on the whole, the objections to this procedure appear to outweigh its advantages. An abstract distinction between 'fees' and 'taxes' may easily be made, but cannot be applied with satisfactory results in practice. Nor will it be easy to secure agreement as to the true boundary line. Professor Seligman himself disagrees with nearly all his predecessors, and confines the fee revenue to that derived from monopolised enterprises. Even then, if profit is obtained, the charge becomes a tax. Thus it would seem that, to take a concrete case, the British letter-post charge is a 'tax,' payments for telegrams are 'fees,' while the parcel-post service, not being a monopoly, charges a 'price.' Put in a general way, the distinction seems acute, and to some minds satisfactory, but what is to be said as to its practical convenience? Must the Post Office revenue be broken up into these several parts and its disjecta membra scattered over several distinct books? Such a course would, we believe, be altogether out of place in an orderly and systematic exposition of financial principles and facts. The different position of similar institutions in different countries further increases the difficulty. Are Prussian railway fares to be treated under 'taxation,' while Australasian ones are discussed when dealing with 'fees'?
But a more serious difficulty remains. Perhaps the commonest use of 'fee' in this sense in the English language is its employment to describe the charges made for various official acts. We speak of 'court fees' or 'registration fees' far more readily than of 'postal fees.' In those cases, however, the idea of equivalent service is not very prominent. A certificate of birth or the issue of a writ involves some payment, but in each case there is really a small contribution towards the expense of a public department, not a charge based on 'the special benefit accruing to the individual.' In fact, this kind of fee is essentially 'incidental revenue,' and it is noteworthy that the earliest systematic writers took exactly this view. Professor Seligman will not allow that Rau was the originator of the separation of fees, and refers to Justi as having perceived their existence. Both Justi and his contemporary Sonnenfels do, indeed, speak of 'casual revenue' (Zufällige Einkünfte), and this is precisely what fees are. They come in, if not as a windfall, at least as a by-product, a characteristic which prevents their being entitled to be classed as co-ordinate with taxes. The transference of one large portion of the matter, sometimes placed under the head of fees, to that of economic revenue, and of another less extensive portion to the category of taxation, leaving the miscellaneous residue to come in as an appendix to the treatment of the former, commends itself as a logical and convenient distribution of material.
The third distinct category is of greater interest. Special assessments may be fairly described as an American creation, and it was therefore fitting that American writers should introduce them to the scientific students of finance. This pleasing duty has been ably performed by Professor Seligman and his pupil Mr. Rosewater, and the European writer will henceforth be compelled to enlarge his descriptive material in order to include this new phenomenon. It is not quite so certain, however, that he 'will have to revise his classification.' That will depend on the view he takes of the character and working of these charges. One of the first features of the special assessment that attracts notice is its strictly local application. It is a product of a particular form of local finance, and has apparently little or no place in general receipts. Following out the clue thus supplied, we discover that the special assessment is a mode of distributing burden according to advantage received, and has thus one point of resemblance to the special improvement rates that British local bodies frequently levy on limited areas receiving advantage from work done. The doctrine that 'special assessments must always be proportional to benefits' is merely an example of those legal fictions so dear to the minds of American judges and lawyers, since 'acreage, frontage, value, superficial area,' may any of them be taken as the measure of presumptive benefit (a benefit which, it should be added, may never be realised), and therefore the limitation of proportionality is effectually evaded. In any case there is no necessity for proportional charge. A sovereign legislature might levy assessments at a heavier percentage on those who held larger masses of property, or, in other words, it might permit the smaller owners to retain a greater part of the benefit or 'betterment' that the improvement had produced.
Thus it seems that the line of demarcation between special assessments and taxes is by no means so sharp as Professor Seligman supposes. The real characteristic of the former is their imposition as a single charge on property instead of being a recurring charge on income. They belong, in mercantile language, to the 'capital,' not to the 'profit and loss' account. But in this respect they are paralleled by taxes levied for a single great occasion, e.g. a war or the discharge of debt. In estimating the financial position, it is important to keep both 'capital' and 'revenue' accounts in view; this, however, need not hinder us from regarding a capital payment as a tax levied uno ictu, instead of by recurring charges. When local bodies have recourse to this method, the circumstance deserves to be noted, but does not call for any revolutionary change in arrangement.
Prof. Plehn, in an article entitled 'Classification in Public Finance,' has sought to support Prof. Seligman's arrangement, and has criticised the views expressed in this note. He has, however, failed to understand them, and has been led into several misrepresentations, some of which have been already pointed out. Thus he seems unable to grasp the idea that the principle of classification is relative to the matter in hand; that an arrangement suitable for one purpose may be unsuitable for another. But this is a commonplace with logicians; it is familiar by practice to students of natural science, and should be equally so to investigators of social life. 'It is unscientific,' says Prof. Plehn, 'in the study of legal institutions or economic life to confuse the old and new, or to classify in such a way as to hide the connecting links between them.' No doubt 'confusion' is always unscientific, but combination of similar phenomena, though of widely different origin, is not. To take examples: the emphyteusis of Roman Law may be placed along with Irish judicial tenancies, and the English income tax with other charges on revenue, without reference to the wide differences in origin. In fact, one of the most instructive lessons in social inquiry is derived from the adaptation of diverse institutions and rules to accomplish similar ends.
Equally incorrect is Prof. Plehn's assertion that 'Prof. Bastable ... denies ... that there is any necessity for distinguishing between fees and taxes.' It is hard to understand how any one who had read the sections on 'Administrative Revenue' could have committed himself to so misleading a statement. It is hardly necessary to state once more that there is no denial of the existence of so-called 'fees.' What has been urged is (1) that 'fees' are not a class co-ordinate with 'economic revenue' and 'taxes.' (2) That some fees are really 'industrial,' that others are 'special taxes,' while the balance may best be described as 'miscellaneous receipts.' (3) That the heterogeneous character of 'fees' is proved by the divergence of opinion respecting their character and boundaries. The practical outcome of these views is the treatment of a large section of fees as a kind of appendage to economic receipts, and this course is supported by Prof. Plehn's 'practice,' which in this, as in many other cases, is better than his 'theory.'
Notes for this chapter
Though each is simply the House of Commons sitting under a special name.
Supra, Bk. i. ch. 1, § 7.
Thus Blackstone (i. 281-337) gives twenty-one different rights as composing the 'ordinary' revenue of the King, from which enumeration taxes are excluded. Cibrario describes twenty-four heads of revenue in mediæval Italy. Economia Politica del medio aevo, Lib. iii. cap. 6. For the diverse Egyptian revenues, see Wilcken, Griechische Ostraka.
Justi and Sonnenfels both speak of 'accidental revenue' (Zufällige Einkünfte), but they can hardly be credited with a theory of 'fees' as distinct from 'taxes.'
This is the course followed by Stein and Roscher; the former (i. 138 sq.) speaks of 'economic' income; the latter of 'whole or half private economic State receipts.' Bk. i. chs. 4, 5 (§§ 18-24).
Umpfenbach, who substitutes the term 'Fiscal prerogative rights' (Varrechte) for 'regalia,' takes the former course: 78; Wagner, i. 487 sq., ii. 33, the latter. In recent discussion, 'contributions' (Beiträge) have been brought in as an additional section of revenue by some writers.
This is the case with regard to Cohn (see e.g. § 107), who declines to discuss the question of state property, as being economic rather than financial.
Cp. Wagner, i. 474-5. For the regalia, cp. Sax: 'Die Regalien gehören der Wirthschaftsgeschichte und dem positiven öffentlichen Rechte an, die volkswirthschaftliche Theorie ... hat mit ihnen nichts zu schaffen.'—Staatswirthschaft, 480.
§ 18. This confusion is characteristic of the feudal system. Cp. 'Among the many things which may be said about the system known to us as Feudalism, one of the least doubtful is that it mixed up or confounded property and sovereignty.' Maine, Early Law and Custom, p. 148.
See for further discussion of this point, Bk. ii. ch. 3, § 9 n.
For the view of taxation as an occasional resource, Neumann, Progressive Einkommensteuer, 1, 2, and the references there given. Also Blackstone, Bk. i. ch. 8, and contrast Mr. Dicey's view. 'We may therefore, putting the hereditary revenue out of our minds, direct our whole attention to what is oddly enough called the extraordinary, but is in reality the ordinary or Parliamentary revenue of the nation.'—Law of the Constitution (1st ed.) 316.
Though the root-idea of the analysis can be traced back to the Physiocrats, yet Adam Smith originated its form and applications.
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.
'The Classification of Public Revenues,' Quarterly Journal of Economics, April 1893, vii. 286-321, now forming ch. 9 in his Essays in Taxation, to which work the references are made.
Cp. Seligman, Essays, 265-6, with Book ii. ch 1, § 3 supra.
Principles of Science, 679-80.
Darwin, Origin of Species, ch. 14.
Professor Plehn has distorted this statement into the assertion that 'Professor Bastable claims that the sole consideration in the choice of a classification in such subjects as "grammar, jurisprudence, legislation, and finance" is convenience for the immediate purpose in hand.' Political Science Quarterly, xii. 84. Contrast with this supra Book ii. ch 1, § 3. 'The merits of any particular classification depend partly on the end in view.'
Professor Seligman's tabular arrangement, Essays, 302, would seem to give 'fines and penalties' even a higher rank. They result from the 'penal power,' and are opposed to special assessments, fees, and taxes, which are due to exercise of the taxing power; but this is comparatively unimportant.
Professor Plehn tries to meet this objection by referring to the change of meaning in the terms 'value, rent, wages' made by economists. But his own explanation shows that there is no real parallelism in the two cases. 'A word adopted from daily life by science must,' he says, 'be deprived of some of its "extension" for the purpose of giving it a perfectly clear "intension," ' Political Science Quarterly, xii. 85. The term fee has not been treated in this way. Its 'extension' has been enormously increased, and, as a necessary consequence, its 'intension' has been reduced, and, judging from the somewhat dreary disputes on the matter, has lost, not gained, in clearness. It may be remarked that if 'Gebuhr' is to be translated into English, 'due' is the least inappropriate equivalent.
Cp. infra, Bk. ii. ch. 4, § 10.
The few European instances are not prominent enough to attract attention.
See the excellent study entitled Special Assessments, by the latter.
This is Professor Seligman's expressed belief. Essays, 292.
See on this point the following American cases: Matter of Church, 92 N.Y. 6; Allen v. Drew, 44 Vt. 174; N. Indian Railway Co. v. Conelly, 10 Ohio, 159.
It is also possible, and actually happens, that taxation is by constitutional provisions confined to proportional charges.
'Special assessments are paid once and for all.'—Seligman, Essays, 289. Cp. Rosewater, Special Assessments, 129.
Ricardo's plan for paying off the National Debt may be given as an instance. See his Works, 545-6; and cp. Cannan, 'Ricardo in Parliament, Economic Journal, iv. 421-3.
On this point Prof. Plehn is a supporter of the view taken above, though he regards it as partly based on an entire misconception.
Pol. Science Quarterly, xii. 82-92.
In addition to the references given above, see Mr. Montague's article in the Dict. of Pol. Economy, i. 303.
Pol. Science Quarterly, 84.
See Bk. ii. ch. 4, §§ 7-10.
Plehn, pt. ii. ch. 11.
Book II, Chapter II
End of Notes
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