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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 69 of the 1976 Liberty Fund edition of Sir Henry Sumner Maine’s 1885 tract, Popular Government:

It is perfectly possible … to revive even in our day the fiscal tyranny which once left even European populations in doubt whether it was worth while preserving life by thrift and toil.  You have only to tempt a portion of the population into temporary idleness by promising them a share in a fictitious hoard lying (as Mill puts it) in an imaginary strong-box which is supposed to contain all human wealth.  You have only to take the heart out of those who would willingly labour and save, by taxing them ad misericordiam for the most laudable philanthropic objects.  For it makes not the smallest difference to the motives of the thrifty and industrious part of mankind whether their fiscal oppressor be an Eastern despot, or a feudal baron, or a democratic legislature, and whether they are taxed for the benefit of a Corporation called Society, or for the advantage of an individual styled King or Lord.