This is not a conjecture hazarded at random, but the result of experiment and calculation; nor can it appear surprising, when it is considered that the revenues of the United Provinces, equal to these States in population, beyond comparison superior in industry, commerce, and riches, do not exceed twenty-five millions of guilders, or about nine millions and a half of dollars. In times of war they have raised a more considerable sum, but it has been chiefly by gratuitous combinations of rich individuals, a resource we cannot employ, because there are few men of large fortunes in this country, and these for the most part are in land. Taxes in the United Provinces are carried to an extreme which would be impracticable here. Not only the living are made to pay for every necessary of life, but even the dead are tributary to the public for the liberty of interment at particular hours. These considerations make it evident that we could not raise an equal amount of revenue in these States. Yet, in ’76, when the currency was not depreciated, Congress emitted, for the expenses of the year, fourteen millions of dollars. It cannot be denied that there was a want of order and economy in the expenditure of public money, nor that we had a greater military force to maintain at that time than we now have; but, on the other hand, allowing for the necessary increase in our different civil lists, and for the advanced prices of many articles, it can hardly be supposed possible to reduce our annual expense very much below that sum. This simple idea of the subject, without entering into details, may satisfy us that the deficiency which has been stated is not to be suspected of exaggeration.
And now to conclude. With the exception of certain short notes attached to the legislative proposals, I have on purpose almost entirely confined myself in this paper to speaking of the fundamental moral wrong that is committed, where some men coerce other men, where some men forcibly and by means of the state power construct systems for the rest of men to live under. As regards the many practical evils that result from thus making other men accept our views of religion, or of education, or of the relation of labor and capital (remember that the wrong we commit in these cases is twofold, caused both by our prescribing the systems under which others shall live, and by our taking compulsorily from them, in the shape of taxes, the means by which such systems are supported) I must leave this branch of the great discussion for another occasion. I can merely point out here that all uniform state systems, excluding difference, excluding competition, mean a perpetual arrest at the existing level of progress. So long as great government departments (over which, be it observed, from the very exigencies of administration, the mass of the people can never have any real control) supply our wants, so long shall we remain in our present condition, the difficulties of life unconquered, and ourselves unfitted to conquer them. No amount of state education will make a really intelligent nation; no amount of Poor Laws will place a nation above want; no amount of Factory Acts will make us better parents. These great wants which we are now vainly trying to deal with by acts of Parliament, by prohibitions and penalties, are in truth the great occasions of progress, if only we surmount them by developing in ourselves more active desires, by putting forth greater efforts, by calling new moral forces into existence, and by perfecting our natural ability for acting together in voluntary associations. To have our wants supplied from without by a huge state machinery, to be regulated and inspected by great armies of officials, who are themselves slaves of the system which they administer, will in the long run teach us nothing, will profit us nothing. The true education of children, the true provision for old age, the true conquering of our vices, the true satisfying of our wants, can only be won, as we learn to form a society of free men, in which individually and in our own self-chosen groups we seek the truest way of solving these great problems. Before any real progress can be made, the great truth must sink deep into our hearts, that we cannot in any of these matters be saved by machinery, we can only be saved by moral energy in ourselves and in those around us. Progress, can have nothing to do with passing acts of Parliament; except so far as we pass them to break old fetters that still bind us. If civilization could be given by any government, as a royal present to a nation, the world had long since been civilized. One short session would be enough to decree all the new systems of education, and all the new dwelling houses, and all the new grants of land, and all the new penalties against vices, that are wanted. But at the end of it all the nation would be like a man who had dressed himself in a new suit of clothes. The man himself under all the new outward appearances would remain the same; only perhaps more hindered than before by the misleading belief that in some real way his clothes had transformed him. Civilization has never yet and never will be simply made by the fiat of those who have power. It must be slowly won by new desires arising in us individually and taking effect in new efforts. The common sense gained in daily life is quite sufficient to teach us that any number of brand-new splendid institutions cannot and do not alter men. To believe that they do we must go back to the fairy tales of our childhood. Nor does it require unusual intelligence to perceive that the real force of England has lain in the energy, the enterprise, the independence, the power of acting and thinking alone, that have belonged to the English character, and that it has not been her governing machinery, but these forces of character that have won for her the great peaceful victories of industry at home and of colonization abroad. These qualities form the true stores of her greatness and success, but they are qualities that are only produced by freedom in our life and constant responsibility for our actions. They cannot coexist–it would be contrary to the very nature of things–with great state systems and great governing departments, under whose direction men from day to day are controlled and cared for; I doubt if they can even long survive in presence of two powerful and highly organized political parties, whose members, giving up the attempt to see for themselves what is right and true, are content to act in a crowd and to follow their leaders in blind struggles to gain ascendancy over each other. These are the things which, as our political Marthas will presently learn, are not needful to a nation. We need not have great state departments, or great state systems, however splendid in their external appearance, we need not each of us be enlisted in a great army called Conservative or Liberal. But what is needful is that man should have a free soul in a free body; that he should hate the creeds of force and of regulation, that he should ever be striving to make his mind independent of the opinions of others, that he should ever be training it to form its own judgments and to respect its own sense of right. For a nation whose units are determined to keep their bodies and minds free, all progress is possible. For a nation whose units are willing to place their bodies and their minds in the keeping of others, there are no hopes of growth and movement. It is only reserved to them to fall from one depth to another depth of state slavery, while they live in the mocking dream that they are moving onward and upward.
Weinstein: Think twice about raising taxes on oil and …
A sad pother is made, too, about prohibiting the exportation of sheep without excepting wethers. The poor Farmer is at a mighty loss to know how wethers can improve or increase the breed. Truly I am not such a conjurer as to be able to inform him, but, if you please, my friends, I can give you two pretty good reasons why the Congress have not excepted wethers. One is, that for some time we shall have occasion for all the wool we can raise; so that it would be imprudent to export sheep of any kind. And the other is, that if you confine yourself chiefly to killing wethers, as you ought to do, you will have none to export. The gentleman who made the objection must have known these things as well as myself; but he loves to crack a jest, and could not pass by so fair an opportunity.