Revenue, Economy and the Union
I have to say I am finding reading these to be very interesting. Seeing how some of the things they said correlate to our country today is amazing. Timeless principles of government.
Letter 12 – The Utility of the Union in Respect to Revenue
This letter deals obviously with streams of revenue for the country both with taxes and with trade. – “A nation cannot long exist without revenue.”
Commerce is the most useful, productive source of income and has such become important in political arenas. All craftsmen and laborers look forward to the reward that comes from the purchase of their created items. It is suggested that as commerce flourishes, land value rises. We know that is true.
“The ability of a country to pay its taxes must always be proportioned in a great degree to the quantity of money in circulation and to the celerity with which it circulates. Commerce must render the payment of taxes easier and facilitate the requisite supplies to the treasury. Tax laws have in vain been multiplied; new methods to enforce the collection have in vain been tried; the public expectation has been uniformly disappointed, and the treasuries of the States have remained empty.”
If the states remained smaller Confederacies there would be competition within them in the issue of lowering duties levied to other countries. As a United States we would only guarding one territory for trade – the Atlantic. This would allow us to patrol our own shores and make sure that there were no rogue operators seeking to interfere with trade.
This line sounds curiously like a Fair Tax precursor – “Personal estate, from the difficulty of tracing it, cannot be subjected to large contributions by any other means than by taxes on consumption.”
Letter 13 – Advantage of the Union in Respect To Economy in Government
This is a shorter letter, dealing with costs of Government. If the states are united into one Union there will only be one civil budget to operate. If they remain individuals states/countries then the expenses would be unnecessarily multiplied. As each group would necessitate a government on the same scale as the one being proposed for the Union. On size and population of the smaller entities alone it would be easy to see how they would struggle to compete with larger states. “Nothing can be more evident than that the thirteen states will be able to support a national government better than one half, or one third, or any number less than the whole.” – With that said, I am sure they never had ANY idea we would get ourselves into the economic mess that our government now is.
Letter 14 – Objections to the Proposed Constitution from Extent of Territory Answered
We open here with again alluding to the differences between a democracy and a republic and confusion that complicates this. “In a democracy the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic they assemble and administer it by their represetnatives and agents. A democracy covers one small spot . A republic can cover a large region.” The limitations of a democracy are that it assembles in one spot. That has easily been done with all the 13 states being in attendance at gatherings. With all the mathematical calculations of the states at the time, the territory was about as large as some European countries, not even much larger than Germany. Poland, France, Spain, Great Britian all with sizes comparable or inferior still have to travel as far for their governmental meetings.
Here is an intersting tidbit – “First, It is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charge with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdicition is limited. Subordinate governments retain due authority and activity.”
Second, “the immediate object of the Constitution is to secure the union of the thirteen primitive states, and to add to them other states.”
Third, “intercourse through the Union will be facilitated by new improvements – roads, travel accommodations, navigation on water, canals.”
Fourth, “and more important is that as almost every State will on one side or other be a frontier.” Even if it would be difficult to get their representatives to the seat of the national government they would find it more troublesome to try and defend themselves against intruders.” As one Union there would be great benefit and great reward.