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and the state is forced to take over ing ownership is almost impossible. part of the property, taxed in payment, Therefore our States, in the last as is being done in Germany to-day, decade or two, have come to despair that we have the confiscation of which of a possibility of directly taxing permuch is said. The land tax can be sonal property and particularly inmade to produce a larger revenue than tangible securities, and finally the is at present obtained in America by tendency, which is clearly manifest the adoption of a modification of the in all our States to-day, arose of taxing single tax as it prevails in England. not the personal property or the intan
The great difficulty with a capital gible security itself, but of placing a tax lies in fixing the valuation by means tax upon the income of the corporation of which the tax is computed, since the and also upon the income received by tax is estimated as a percentage on the the owners of the corporation's stocks fair, or market, value of the property. and bonds. The drift has been toOur municipal governments spend ward the income tax not because many millions every year for assessors of preference, not because of theory, whose sole duty is to fix with meticu- but because of despairing experience lous care the fair valuation for tax and grim necessity. purposes of variously situated and
The only alternative to the capital variously used lands. In the case of tax or the income tax is the privilege personal property—that is, all mov- or excise tax. The government may able property—the problem of valua- impose a charge for certain privileges tion becomes almost insurmountable. that are conferred by the government, What is the value of machinery, although they seem so natural that one rapidly depreciating, sometimes idle, thinks of them as being inherent rights. often obsolescent? What is the value Corporations can be taxed for their of stock in trade, merchandise, and right to exist as such by a capital stock partly manufactured products when tax. Theaters and amusements can the market price is fluctuating rapidly? be charged for their right to carry on Most of our large personal property- business by an admission tax. So, too, owners are corporations. Therefore, the privilege of making sales which are because of these difficulties, in taxing enforceable by law can be taxed in the personal property the tendency has form of a sales tax. Our luxury taxes
a been to try to transfer the tax to the are familiar enough. At present a stock of the corporation owning the sales tax, or some such privilege tax, property, and to fix the valuation of is being proposed as something new that stock by accepting the market and magical. In fact, the privilege or values. Such a tax, when imposed on excise tax is one of the most ancient the corporation, has not produced an forms of taxation. Students of the adequate revenue, and great efforts French Revolution always express horhave been made to tax securities in ror at the tax on windows, an obvious the hands of the owners. Yet this privilege tax. Luxury taxes are effechas worked out unsatisfactorily, be- tive if wisely applied. Yet they are cause it is easy to conceal stock and not of divine origin. They afford no bonds which pass so rapidly from panacea. They carry with them inherhand to hand that any means of check- ent defects. Privilege taxes, in truth, always have manifested marked limi- volved as to be well-nigh uncollectable. tations and must be applied sparingly If a small income tax on business is and with deft caution.
insufficient to meet the needs of gov
ernment, then we shall have to apply 86
privilege taxes of one form or another In judging a privilege tax, one must to supplement our revenue. The only first determine what requisites a desir. practical form in which these taxes can able tax must meet. Of course a be applied is that of isolated tax impolegion of desired qualities can be sitions, each yielding a sizable revenue. thought of. Yet certain fundamental A tax on automobiles, a higher tax on elements can readily be agreed upon. tobacco, a tax upon bank-checks, upon Probably the three outstanding fea- postage—all these privilege taxes, tures of a proper tax are: first, it must, lumped together, may well produce a as Jacques Necker vigorously insisted, helpful revenue. The government, in be collectable, and produce a sizable imposing such taxes, will have to adopt revenue; secondly, it must not be too the instincts of a fisherman. It must grave and dangerous an interference cast its net not in obedience to any with the processes of business; and fixed theory, but simply using common third, the tax must be apportionable sense and drawing out wealth in those in some manner in order to be a just channels and streams where it is postax. That is, the state must be free sible to draw out wealth without undue to make the tax-payer contribute in disturbances of business. The govproportion to his ability to pay. ernment must play the opportunist.
By these requisites privilege taxes Hard theories or methods, carried out soon manifest distinct limitations as to their logically attractive end, must compared with a restrained income tax. be avoided. Since they are a check or a restraint Fundamentally, therefore, the inupon proper business functions, privi- come tax must remain as the basis of lege taxes, too high or unwisely ap- both federal and state revenue.
The plied, will interfere with the proper Federal Government, however, must functioning of business. A general make the federal income tax genersales tax, for example, would impair ously light in order to give the States severely those businesses which are a chance of reviving by maintaining done upon a small profit. Again, the and supplementing their revenues. privilege tax, unless it is very carefully Here state and federal fiscal problems adjusted, takes as large a tax from the crash into each other, and care must poor as from the rich. This considera- be shown by the Federal Government. tion in a democracy where unrestrained In the last few years we have come to accumulations of wealth are fraught appreciate the limitations of the inwith danger is of greater significance come tax and to understand that it than commonly admitted. Some of cannot be extended beyond its proper these difficulties can be avoided by the scope. And if the limitations of the careful adjustment of the form of the income tax are not overlooked and too privilege tax. Yet when these adjust- much is not expected of it, the undements are worked out, a far-flung niable fact remains that it is by far sales tax is so complicated and so in- the best tax that has yet been devised.
IN the princess eat it, Becky?” "But, Becky, mebbe somebody 'll
watch her put it away, and they ll time.”
steal it, like they did the diamond "Kin she wear it, like she did the hat.” For his sister's imagination was golden coat?”
chained to earth by experience, and "No, she can't wear it, neither. She the princess usually lost her beautican't eat it or wear it or hock it. She ful things in the end. can't do nothin' with it except look at "No; don't I tell you nobody 's goit. It's jus' pretty."
ing to find the thing this time. Every “O-oh.” Ikey turned his little white time she goes out she locks it up in a face to the window and cleaned a ruby box, and if anybody tries to steal fresh spot on its steamed surface. it, the fairy godmother 'll turn 'em into
For a moment Becky's eyes held a rat and make 'em live in the royal the rapt look they always had when garbage can." she summoned the princess for Ikey. Ikey shivered with delight. Then, with a sigh, she took a coat “But she ain't in the palace all the from the pile on the floor beside her time. When she goes out to git the and began swiftly to sew on the but cake for dinner-" tons. This was the drawback of tell- "Every time she locks the door and ing stories to Ikey. She had to re- hides the key on the firescape in a-in turn to the coats and sew that much the sacred bird's nest. So there!" faster.
Before this absolute certainty of “Becky, does her stepmother know precaution Ikey's pessimism vanished. she has it?"
With a long-drawn breath of relief he "No; nobody knows, not one, single turned again to the window. man or lady. It's her own, and no- "She can't eat it-nor wear it-nor body can't ever see it even if she don't hock it. It's jus' pretty,” he chanted let 'em."
and beat the arms of his chair to the But this time Becky did not stop rhythm. Even his useless little legs sewing, for she had promised her quivered with the force of his delight. mother to have the coats finished by Becky bent low over the coat, sewing supper, and there were still a dozen. furiously. Becky's fingers flew, and her short legs, From the street below came the which escaped the floor by a full twelve cries of hucksters, the incessant pleadinches, wound themselves more tightly ing to buy, buy, buy, anything from a in the rungs of the chair.
carpet to a button; the old, old chant
of barter that follows the tribes of “BECKY! That's a Goy swear!" Judah around the world, enveloping "I don't care if it is. I 'm sick of them like a cloud. Wrapped in shape bein' a chosen people. What d' we less garments against the bitter cold, get for it, anyhow?" wigged women and sad-eyed, bearded “Nothin',” Ikey agreed sadly, and men whined or shrieked the wonder of looked down at his useless legs. their wares. In the narrow space "Sicknesses, mebbe.” between the rows of carts children Becky came and stood beside him. played in the black snow, dodging with Hot with resentment against the ugliacrobatic agility the thundering trucks ness of her world, she pressed her face whose roar for a moment drowned the close to Ikey's, against the glass. She cries of the hucksters. But as soon as had known nothing else all the ten these had passed, the children were years of her life, and she loathed it as back again, and once more the cries one can only loathe familiar hatreds: rose, Isaac's high moaning of his caps, the wailings of Isaac, the purple ex“Fine caps of fur, seal fur, and only panse of Miriam's face, the green and thirty-five cents. Thirty-five, thirty- scarlet pickles, the fine caps of fur, the five.” Next to him, like an angry mass of striving, living things that spirit escaping bondage from the filled every spot of space, that clutched depths of innumerable coats, Miriam and grabbed and forced their wares defied the world to produce better into your face, never still or at rest, pickles. “Pickles, pickles, fine cucum, ,
always beating, striving, fighting for ber pickles, not equaled in Kieff itself.” something.
But Ikey neither heard nor saw. With a shudder Becky turned away He wandered with the princess before the royal treasure of candy and golden toys and clothes, finer even than "the cobwebs we sweep down before Passover,” until he stood before the ruby box that held it, the last creation of Becky's longing—something so beautiful, so useless, so unnecessary that words could not describe it.
"Becky, I guess we can't never see nothin' so beautiful like it, mebbe?"
Eydeh olan For a moment Becky did not answer.
“The old, old chant of barter that follows Then she kicked the coats and said
the tribes of Judah around the world" quietly:
"Some day I 'm going to have a and began stacking the finished coats thing- even if I got to steal it- in two piles, a large one for her mother, sohelpmegod!”
a smaller for herself, to carry after
supper to Abraham. As she smoothed vociferous powers of Isaac and Miriam, each coat with quick, reluctant touch, had made theirs. her lips curled in scorn of the harsh "Becky, don't let 'em chase him!” cloth.
But Becky was already at the door, "I hate you," she muttered, “and and even as Ikey shrieked to Miriam some day I ain't going to do you no more. And when Abraham says, 'How many to-day, Becky?' I 'll jus' turn up my nose and say, 'I ain't taking no more coats, Mr. Epstein,' and walk right straight out of the shop."
So vivid was this triumph that, unconsciously, her head went up, her eyes blazed scornful exultation at the stove, which for the moment, was Abraham Epstein himself. Becky saw as clearly as if he had been there before her the amazement in his small black eyes, the thick, gray beard, the outstretched hands seeking an explanation of this extraordinary proceeding.
With a bound Becky was beside Ikey; but he was not hurt, only trembling with excitement as he pointed down into the street. Between Isaac and Miriam old Giuseppe, the Gentile,
"Sad-eyed, bearded men whined shrieked
the wonder of their wares' had wedged his cart, and now he stood holding high a small white statue of a that she was “a swine,” Becky had woman.
reached the pavement and was forcing "It 's-a thing!” Ikey whispered. her way through the group of excited “It 's-her!" whispered Becky. children watching, at a safe distance, "O Becky, open the winder!" the strange old man who now stood,
But the window had been safely his eyes closed, muttering weird words nailed at the beginning of winter, and that might well have been a Gentile Becky struggled in vain.
"witch." "Oh, look! Isaac wants him to git "Holy Mary, Mother of God," old out. He 's—he 's shovin' him! He Giuseppe was praying, "forgive me don't want him to stay there." that I bring you to sell among these
Ikey beat futilely on the pane and infidels! But Your blessed body is not commanded Isaac in his most forceful perfect, and the sons of the true church Yiddish to leave the old man alone. will not buy Sell Yourself, Holy One, But Isaac, abetted by Miriam, was that old Giusepp' may give a Christshouting and gesticulating at the mas to the little ones, like the ChristGentile who had dared to usurp the mas of America; also a fine candle of place which custom, aided by the wax for Thy altar!"