This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
But, setting aside all consideration of the additional burden of taxation occasioned by protection, as just illustrated, we find this system is entirely at variance with our fourth maxim, which was "that no more should be taken or kept out of the pockets of the people than absolutely necessary." This will be seen by the following illustration: —
Supposing the custom-house duties collected to
amount, as in 1864, in round numbers, to . . $100,000,000 Expenses of collecting, in all....... 10,000,000
Total amount received by the treasury . . $90,000,000
We estimate the expense of collecting at ten per cent; but including all salaries and charges, and interest upon investments made by government, the expense is, doubtless, somewhat greater; but, to prevent dispute, we assume that the net amount is ninety million dollars. To get this sum, how much is paid by the people?
We will suppose that the importer's profit is fifteen per cent, the jobber's ten, and the retailer's twenty per cent. The matter then will stand thus: —
Original duties paid...........$100,000,000
Importers' profits, fifteen per cent...... 15,000,000
$115,000,000 Jobbers' profits, ten per cent........ 11,500,000
$126,500,000 Retailers' profits, twenty per cent...... 25,300,000
Total, paid by the people......$151,800,000
Deduct gross amount paid into the treasury . . . 100,000,000
Taken out of the pockets of the people, and not paid
in the public treasury........ . . $51,800,000
or more than fifty per cent extra taxation.
In regard to the general correctness of these estimates, no well-informed person can have any doubt. Hon. George Opdyke, a distinguished merchant, late Mayor of New York, m a small but excellent work on "Political Economy," published in 1851 (page 200), computes the importers' profits at fifteen, the jobbers' at ten, and the retailers' at twenty-five. He had the best of means for knowing the amount of the importers' profits. The retailers' were a matter of estimate with him. We have supposed that they might be somewhat too high, and have therefore placed them at twenty per cent. This, considering that it is to be applied to all retail sales, not only in cities and towns, but in the most remote districts of the country, is undoubtedly within actual limits. As long ago as 1849, we made such investigations as satisfied us of the correctness of the estimates we now give, and published tables at that time, illustrating the principle laid down.
In regard to customs duties, then, we cannot but conclude, that, while they are a convenient and prolific source of revenue, they are very unequal and expensive, and little in accordance with the principles of justice and equality.