This section of the book is from the "Introduction To Public Finance" book, by Carl Copping Plehn.
Probably the most thorough attempts to reform taxation in accord with clearly recognised principles of theoretical justice have been in Prussia. That country has taken advantage from time to time of the advice of men of science. It has been doubly happy (1) in having a goodly number of unpartisan financial scientists to draw upon; (2) in being able to drawupon them for advice, either by counting their pupils among its fiscal officers or placing the scientists themselves on its tax boards and commissions. It has been able to make changes with a broad conservatism that looked toward the gradual realisation of accepted ideals. With characteristic visionary eagerness, France has several times started out to obtain at a single bound somenew ideal, but has each time fallen back upon forms and methods but little better than those in vogue before. In England, special difficulties and objections have been met with little reference to any general plan. The result hasbeen a steady approach to a better state of affairs, with only an occasional intensification of existing evils, due to the attempt to cure symptoms rather than to seek the underlying causes of the trouble. In the United States there have been spasmodic and ill-directed attempts at the removal of a few clearly recognised abuses ; and without any consistent attempt to change the system, the result has been a decided modification. The general failure of the property tax to reach personal property gave rise at first to vigorous efforts to extend and sharpen the methods of assessment. These attempts failing, other methods of reaching the mass of personal property were devised, which have resulted in a partial change of system wherever they have been successful.