« السابقةمتابعة »
(which stimulates price,) may be comparatively languid. But if it should happen to be much reduced, (a consequence which may be feared from languid demand,) it is an evil pregnant with the most fearful results. We must then resort to Foreign supply, to feed an unemployed Population-a drain, which would soon exhaust the most abundant wealth !
SUCCESSION of abundant harvests., I attribute it to this languid demand, arising from want of means in the Consumers.
If I understand the argument of the Committee, it is, that increased means of purchase do not materially add to the demand, in the article of bread! But do not decreased means take from the demand for the adequate quantity? If so, the low price may be independent of a succession of abundant years, and the assignment of such a temporary cause only leads to delusion.
REDUCTION OF THE
P U BLIC D E B T
WITHOUT INDIVIDUAL SACRIFICE.
BY JONATHAN WILKS.
MANY and various have been the Schemes of projectors, for relieving the national burdens, but so weighty have been the objections of sound reason and expediency to the plans offered, that the subject seems to be withdrawn from public attention, as one altogether hopeless of remedy, or liable to difficulties of an insurmountable nature.
We exclaim with the dramatist, “Let us rather bear the ills we have, great and perilous as they are, than fly to others that we know not of.”.. This, however, it must be acknowledged, is but a weak and spiritless conclusion, for a high-minded people, and this tame acquiescence in existing evils, bas in all ages proved a bar to moral and political improvement. Nations, like individuals, imitate the waggoner in the fable, and are ready, in periods of distress, “To fall upon their knees and solicit the aid of Jupiter,” overlooking what, in the affairs of this world, is our first duty: namely, to put our shoulders to the work we have in hand, and show that we have some claim to the kind assistance of heaven.
Unappalled then by the disregard which appears to have accompanied all the proposals hitherto brought forward, for lessening the national debt, and national burdens; I appeal once more to the energies of a great and spirited people. After a mature and deep consideration of the subject, I venture to assure them, that an effort on their part, requiring no sacrifice, at all comparable with the benefits to be derived from it, will rapidly free them from one half their present burdens, and elevate the political situation of this great country, to a height hitherto unattained by any nation.
Previous, however, to the developement of this plan of relief, it is necessary to say a few words in reply to those who assert, that no change of system is required, and that “time and patience" only are wanting to relieve us from all our difficulties.
The truth of this assertion, will be best tried by a short review of our financial situation.
The public debt of this country, funded and unfunded, may be stated in round numbers at eight hundred and fifty millions, requiring when coupled with its attendant the sinking fund, an annual charge of nearly fifty millions. The current expenses of Government require about twenty millions, and the parochial and other local taxes will be understated at ten millions, making a total of annual taxation upon the United Kingdom of eighty millions. By estimates given in a subsequent part of this work, it will be seen, that the whole income of the United Kingdom, arising from property and labor conjointly, does not exceed three hundred millionis; taxation therefore, of one kind or other, amounts to more than one fourth of the whole income of the country, so that a yeonian or gentleman of five hundred pounds yearly income, pays one hundred and twenty-five pounds or upwards, in taxes.
Every other income above or below the sum here stated, is taxed in proportion.-Some few exceptions may indeed occur in consequence of the different modes of living—but generally speaking, taxation falls upon all ranks in the proportion here mentioned.
During the French revolutionary war, which bore down all our rivals in cominerce, the growing trade of this country enabled us to support all this immense burden. But the return of peace, giving security and animation to foreign manufacturers, brings us into commercial competition with nations, whose taxation may be stated as only one to four, of the taxation of the British Empire. Thus British industry, ingenuity, and enterprise, have to contend against an advantage to the foreigner, of nearly twenty per cent. from taxation only, exclusive of that which he derives from a more fruitful soil, and greater cheapness of labor.
Under these circumstances, it is easy to foresee, that the foreign comaserce of Britain must gradually diminish, and as a natural consequence, that hier revenue must diminish also ;-Who! that examines the state of our foreign commerce with intelligence, can fail to perceive, that the mischief is already in progress ? what article of import yields a protit to the importer ? and nine times in ten, what article of export gives any profitable return? Foreign trade is become little better than a game of hazard; and though the players may continue interested for a while, without any reasonable bope of gain; yet the good sense and prudence of the British merchant, will prevent any lengthened pursuit of such a dangerous and unprofitable occupation.
Foreign commerce then, will decline, for though naval discovery,
and the general increase and amelioration of mankind, from the extension of art and science, are gradually opening new markets to our enterprize and industry; still the enormous disadvantage of twenty per cent. in the cost of every article of consumption, and in the payment of every species of labor, must create such obstacles to the commerce of Britain, as all the industry and enterprize of her inhabitants cannot overcome.
Foreigo manufacturers will excel us in the cheapness of their fabrics, and gradually drive us out of every market ;-our naval superiority cannot long survive the loss of commerce, and our colonial possessions will become the prey of rival nations. This may be deemed by some a gloomy picture, but its truth is already felt, by the experience of a six years' peace, and “ time and patience” are more likely to add to, thau diminish the evil. It may be urged, perhaps, that our national debt is about to be gradually reduced, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is making an effort, at least, to appropriate five millions annually to that object;-thus after six years of peace, we begin to talk only of reduction; and it is more than probable, that another six years upon the same system, will find us deeper in debt than we now are. But allowing, for the sake of argument, that five millions surplus revenue, can be clearly made out, and annually applied to the reduction of debt; and further, that we are fortunate enough, to be blest with ten years more of uninterrupted peace; in this case, the three per cent. stock will rise to eighty or upwards, and in ten years sixty millions of this stock will be paid off; and the annual charge in respect of debt, will be diminished by one million eight hundred thousand pounds; this will be esteemed but a very meagre relief to the country—and who will venture to insure to us, ten years more of uninterrupted peace? or who will be bold enough to say, that the present enormous taxation can be borne ten years longer by a suffering people ?
It is necessary also to bear in mind, that the next war we may be engaged in, will in all human probability be a maritime war, and the prize of contest be no less than the command of the ocean; we shall have to encounter an active and courageous foe, rendered confident by former success, and assisted by those European powers, who are jealous of our naval greatness. The expense of such a war will be great, whilst on the other hand, it will offer none of those commercial advantages, which enabled us to raise such vast supplies during the late French war. such a contest, incumbered as we now are with debt and taxes, would be to offer ourselves bound hand and foot to the enemy, and could not fail to end in the ruin of our financès.
No! it is in vain to trifle any longer ; we must, though reluc
To enter upon