Friday, May 11, 2012

The Original Cato on Taxation

Until the rise of our contemporary Social Democrats, low levels of taxation constituted something of an American tradition. Our founders, of course, started that tradition. Some  of the most significant influences on the political and economic thought of the founders were the various Cato's Letters, by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon.   Below , a brief excerpt of their common sense views on taxation.

"If, in taxing labour and manufactures, we exceed a certain proportion, we discourage industry, and destroy that labour and those manufactures. The like may be said of trade and navigation; they will bear but limited burdens: And we find by experience, that when higher duties are laid, the product is not increased; but the trade is lost, or the goods are run.

Nor can more be extorted from the gentleman and freeholder, than he can spare from the support of his family, in a way suitable to his former condition.

When impositions exceed these bounds, the history of all ages will convince us, that their produce is only bitterness, murmurings, universal discontents; and their end, generally, rebellion, and an overthrow of the then present establishment, or of public liberty."

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