Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
CONCESSION. By concession is meant the privilege which the government grants to an individual, or to a particular body of individuals, to undertake a certain work, or to carry on a certain industry, dependent by its nature upon the public power, or to enjoy which, in virtue of existing laws, a previous authorization must be obtained. Thus, the construction and operation by private corporations, of railroads, canals, bridges, and some other public works, are objects of concessions made by governments. The working of mines, in like manner, may be the object of a concession.
—The system of concessions has been pushed very far in France, because the carrying on of a great many industries which are left perfectly free in other countries, is there made dependent on governmental authorization. This system has frequently led to scandalous abuses.
—In his Traité de la propriété Charles Comte expresses the opinion that concessions, instead of depending solely upon the good pleasure of the government, should always be made to the highest bidder. This, in his opinion, would put an end to the abuses, scandals and prevarications which are now but too often witnessed in connection with them. He advances some very powerful reasons in support of this proposition. But it would perhaps be better, if not to do away with the system of concessions entirely, at least to restrict it within just limits, by according full liberty to industry, in everything that does not essentially depend upon public power.
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