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Financial Ignorance

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The socond report of iMr. Boutiwll on the finances of the Unitad Status is even a feoblor ooropositiou than the first, in which ho eet forth his numerous finanoial prejudicea. -It bers all the marks of disooursgemeot. Tho war n Europc hai spoiled, be snye, the clianos of his fuudisg operations, whicli were to be tba peculiar triumpU of 'nis poliey ; and if we msy judgo by bis tono he has no lougcr bis oíd confidence. He rcpests hU oíd views about tho balntico of trade aud the necesaity of promoting shipping, eo that American imports uisy be paiíl for in part by freighta earned, as woll as Lis opinión on tlxa mischief of the central banks in Now York gathoring mony froui all parta of the oountry, instend of its beiog left to ccommodate trade in eaoh looüty ; bnt he doei thi in a half-hcarted wy, b if lie had no longor n audience, and had vry little power. Of oourso Buoh a really his situatioD. Every finanoial íeoretary in Amerioa goon foei the impotanoe of his recoommendations ; but Mr. Boutïpoll is, perliaps, inoro thin usually disoreditod. Laít yoar Congresa dealt Fery roughly iodeed with hi funding schemes and other proposals, and lie has in prospect a newly-eleotod Congress, whioh is likely to be antagonistio on many points as well as indifferent. Mr. Boutwell'fl report, however, as that of the official vrho has nominslly charge of American finance cannot but present some mattars of intorest, especially at a time when "revcnue matters" havo at last exhibited no amall politioal powcr. Tbe most singular fact in the statement of the finanoes is tho magnitude of tho aoorucd enrplusoB. In 1809-70, the last completed jear, ths total is tioiply astonishiDg : The receipts were L75.497,O00 And the expeudituro was.... ö(i,77ü,0O0 Surplus L18,027,000 The dollar is couvertcd throtighout at 33. 8J. "Which is a figure absolutely without precodeut in the nuances of auy fecuuntry but America. The poculiarity is that euoh surpluses arise in Amerioa almost iu an acoi'deotal vray. Tbcy do not happon evory year, and by intention. The preTioui year tho total surplus was iibout L7,000,000, and nest year, if legialation Btandia stiil, tliis will again be tha figure, whiob is by no meaos out of the Hay. Iu Eng'and, at least f our accounts woro proporly stated, weshouk often show surpluses of saven or eight millioDi. The Americana, ia fact, do not arrange very deliberately to have enormoua eurpluses as is coaunooly sup posed, and do net ulwuys obtain tliciu The reason they oceur it limply financia, ignorance, and th want of awj prope ludget tyttem. The fiuancial secretar; r-ecommeuds what he thiuks proper, bu he oannot introduce bilis, or atteud ii peraoa to delend bis views ; and Ameri cu finanoes are, in fact, cover discussen in Concrew as a vrhole. There is a finaacial coramittee to which bilis are re ferred, but any membet may introduc bilis, and the adminisiration has no pecial initiative. It is a matter of ac oident, therefore, what the finanoial log islation of a session will be ; and it ha Lappened once or twioe that laus har kaeo Ieft standing whiob unexpectudly produced a revecue far in excess of th ezpenditure. Much oí the last surplu which has aeorued is due to the vigor o a iiow administraron, taking ia hand fVB'em of oolieotion whith bas nut be fore bsen ia good workiug order. Thes great surplusea, therefore, ire in som repectg a proof not of lbo strcngth o: American finanoe, but the reverse. They could Dot occur without irregulaiit'os ii the fiaancial maehinery, which sre do benefioial to the couulry. Every seasion there is the utmoit unccrtainty to it Tery close ai to the aotion of Congres respecting the debt, üuanoes, aud cal reucy, and wbat business suffers in con equence may be caeily uuderstood. N doubt the urplusea have assisted a llttl ín improviug American credit ; but lolid regular surplus of eight or te milliona or lesa would liare buen equall fiective, cspeeially if obtaiucd under wiio tyiteui of tazation. A ttcond faot to be obierred is th ■ teudy diininution of the revenu. Tb AmericauB, though their action bas beeu mott liiful and irregular, have learnec ij eiperionoe. Not only have they bandoned the rasb experiment of rais ing L120,000,000 of revenue to pay off the dcbt with, but they are as iiupa ticnt of taxcUioa aftor all, as any olí people. Instead of L120,000,000, th reveuue in the year 18G0-70 has go down to the more modest figure o L75,497,000, and the proseut nnd nex jear will show smaller totals. Knowing as we do how burdensoine i the nature of tho taxation wbich yield thil great sura, how much it maken th Araerioaii8 paj besides what goos ut the Treasury, it is erideut tbat they ar still most oppressively tDxod. A third point in Mr. Boutwoli'a repor is the curious way ia wliich he tries t holster up be present metbods of taxa tion. Ho is wedded to the reduolion o; the dcbt at all costa, and grudgcs th people the natural benefit of what they have paid off This benefit ia not sma the interest of the dobt this year beiu. L1,500,000 less than Uut of last year- a very material diminution. If Mr UoutweU wero pursuing his object rea onably he would be careful to insist ou this, and show how niuch taxaticia wouk bo dimiuisbcd while the debt fus being paid off quiokly. But bo anxious is b to reduce debt that ho includea in his expenditurc for next year a gum o L5,600,000 for the siüking fund, whiol would reduce the calculatcd surplus o that year from L7,300,000 to L1,800, 000. He wishes tbo appropriation for tho debt to be treated as a necessary ex ptnditure, eo that be hardly yivto him self the benefit of nn apparcut surplus and will oot admit that approprtation o it is optional. The matter is of sügh importance, but the fact that Ameiic has i debt paying a high interest is a molt important oonsideration u its finan cial policy ; and it is curious to notie how Mr. Boutwell'g eagerness to gacri fioe the end to the mean makes hin neg '.eet one of lbo most plausible poiut he oould try to make for his policy. I hould bo his aiui to prove that in bi wy tho nation would get tliu benetit o rqduced taxation very quickly, ant would alao get the debt aboliehed. Tb nswer of couree is, tbat by reduoin taxation first you get most benefit fo the country, and in the end may get ric of tho debt all the sauio ; but Mr. Bout well does uot even put a engs that re quires au annwer. It is evident, frem tho eomposition o tbo Amricsn reveaue, that (he nex fiaanoiil baUle oan hardly fuü to be on %ie tariff. Thereare two reaaons fo this. Oue is the great diminución of th iuternal revenue, which shows of itsel that these taxes ean no longer, in com Trson, be very burdeDBome - tbat ther il not much to bedone with thern. The' ■re expeoted to yisld L10,000,0ü0 les bxt year thau thy did laat, allowanc eing mado in the compulatiou for the uercased prosperity of tho country. And mying L23,000,000 of intern! revenuo, American oitizens are perhaps os littlo ïed in thtvt way ns tho citizons of the United Kingdom, paying L40,000,000. m point of fuot, tho prinuipal sourcoe of ntornul revenue aro now, as witli ourelves, exoise duties on nlcoholic liquort, ad thig is not an oppressivo kind of txrion. The econd faot ii tliat tho cusom!, noiwithstftnding ai! tha altoration whicli have been wade, are fttill to be carly as productiva 8 ever. Tue Americana ought to find oat the elasticiy of tho cuetoms when the tariff ispure1 a revenue one, and tfiero id m doubt jat thoy are doing so Thero is cvery enson, then, to autioipato a euoocssful nBlanght on the oustorns, even rf we rive AmerioaDe credit for nothing clso bn natural impaticnoe of tasation, nd ake no account of the freo trnde movenent, Lookinpr nt these faots, Mr. Boiitwell'sand Genoral Grant'Battempt o divort thig onalaught are very feoblo. Jr. Boutwell, as wo have een, att'.mpts o look away from it by di=guising the act that thore will bo a Jarge surplus next year ; while General Grant has nothing bettor to say thnn that tho intornal revenue is raised from "tases," as if the oustoma were not raiscd frora taxee too.


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Michigan Argus