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Political Thoughts, Quotes and Comment
Rousseau

QUOTES ------------------------------------ COMMENT



ROUSSEAU (1712 - 1778)

In his Dissertation on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality of Mankind.

Man in the State of Nature (before society)

1. "We see around us hardly a creature in civil society, who does not lament his existence: we even see many deprive themselves of as much of it as they can, and laws human and divine together can hardly put a stop to the disorder. I ask, if it was ever known that a savage took it into his head, when at liberty, to complain of life or to make away with himself. Let us judge, with less vanity, on which side the real misery is found."

2. "Man is weak when he is dependent, and is his own master before he comes to be strong."

3. "in spite of all their morality, men would have never been better than monsters, had not nature bestowed on them a sense of compassion, to aid their reason:"

4. "It is then certain that compassion is a natural feeling, which by moderating the violence of love of self in each individual, contributes to the preservation of the whole species."

5. "I hear it constantly repeated that, in such a state (state of nature), the strong would oppress the weak; but what is here meant by oppression? Some, it is said, would violently domineer over others, who would groan under a servile submission to their caprices. This indeed is exactly what I observe to be the case among us:"

6. "as the bonds of servitude are formed merely by the mutual dependence of men on one another and the reciprocal needs that unite them, it is impossible to make any man a slave, unless he be first reduced to a situation in which he cannot do without the help of others: and, since such a situation does not exist in a state of nature, every one is there his own master, and the law of the strongest is of no effect."

7. "Taught by experience that the love of well-being is the sole motive of human actions, he found himself in a position to distinguish the few cases, in which mutual interest might justify him in relying upon the assistance of his fellows; and also the still fewer cases in which a conflict of interests might give cause to suspect them. In the former case, he joined in the same herd with them, or at most in some loose association, that laid no restraint on its members, and lasted no longer than the transitory occasion that formed it. In the latter case, everyone sought his own private advantage, either by open force, if he thought himself strong enough, or by address and cunning, if he felt himself the weaker."

8. "in a word, so long as they undertook only, what a single person could accomplish, and confined themselves to such arts as did not require the joint labor of several hands, they lived free, healthy, honest and happy lives,....." But from the moment one man began to stand in need of the help of another; from the moment it appeared advantageous to any one man to have enough provisions for two, equality disappeared, property was introduced, work became indispensable, and vast forests became smiling fields, which man had to water with the sweat of his brow, and where slavery and misery were soon seen to germinate and grow up with the crops."


The Development of Society

1. "The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody."

2. After the development of early community: "Men began now to take the difference between objects into account, and to make comparisons; they acquired imperceptibly the ideas of beauty and merit, which soon gave rise to feelings of preference... with love arose jealousy; discord triumphed, and human blood was sacrificed to the gentlest of all passions."

3. "Each one began to consider the rest, and to wish to be considered in turn; and thus a value came to be attached to public esteem. Whoever sang or danced , whoever was the handsomest, the strongest, the most dexterous, or the most eloquent, came to be of most consideration; and this was the first step towards inequality, and at the same time towards vice. From these first distinctions arose on the one side vanity and contempt and on the other shame and envy: and the fermentation caused by these new leavens ended by producing combinations fatal to innocence and happiness."

4. "how very far they already are from the state of nature, that so many writers have hastily concluded that man is naturally cruel, and requires civil institutions to make him more mild: whereas nothing is more gentle than man in his primitive state, as he is placed by nature at an equal distance from the stupidity of brutes, and the fatal ingenuity of civilised man."

5. "equality might have been sustained, had the talents of individuals been equal,"

6. In society: "It now became in the interest of men to appear what they really were not. To be and to seem became two totally different things; and from this distinction sprang insolent pomp and cheating trickery, with all the numerous vices that go in their train."

7. "Usurpation's by the rich, robbery by the poor, and unbridled passions of both, suppressed the cries of natural compassion and the still feeble voice of justice, and filled men with avarice, ambition and vice."

CONSOLIDATION OF SOCIETY AND POLITICAL POWER

1. "numerous enemies united by the common hope of plunder, the rich man, thus urged by necessity, conceived at length the profoundest plan that ever entered the mind of man...... "Let us join," said he "to guard the weak from oppression, to restrain the ambitions, and secure to every man the possession of what belongs to him:..... Instead of turning our forces against ourselves, collect them in a supreme power which may govern us by wise laws, protect and defend all the members of the association, repulse their common enemies, and maintain eternal harmony among us...... too much ambition and avarice to go long without masters, all ran headlong to their chains, in hopes of securing their liberty;"

2. "Such was, or may well have been, the origin of society and law, which bound new fetters on the poor, and gave new powers to the rich; which irretrievably destroyed natural liberty, eternally fixed the law of property and inequality, converted clever usurpation into unalterable right, and, for the advantage of a few ambitious individuals, subjected all mankind to perpetual labor, slavery and wretchedness."

3. "Experience only could show the weakness of such a constitution, and how easily it might be infringed with impunity, from the difficulty of convicting men of faults, where the public alone was to be witness and judge: the laws could not but be eluded in many ways; disorders and inconveniences could not but multiply continually, till it became necessary to commit the dangerous trust of public authority to private persons, and the care of enforcing obedience to the deliberations of the people to the magistrate."

4. "The different forms of government owe their origin to the differing degrees of inequality which existed between individuals at the time of their institution."

DECLINE OF SOCIETY AND GOVERNMENT

1. As time went on, "Ambitious chiefs profited by these circumstances to perpetuate their offices in their own families: at the same time the people, already used to dependence and ease, and the conveniences of life, and already incapable of breaking its fetters, agreed to an increase of its slavery, in order to secure its tranquility. Thus magistrates, having become hereditary, contracted the habit of considering their offices as a family estate, and themselves as proprietors of the communities of which they were at first only the officers, of regarding their fellow citizens as their slaves, and numbering them, like cattle, among their belongings, and of calling themselves the equals of the gods and kings of kings."

2. "we shall find that the establishment of laws and of the right of property was its first tern, the institution of magistracy the second, and the conversion of legitimate into arbitrary power the third and last; so that the condition of rich and poor was authorised by the first period; that of powerful and weak by the second; and only by the third that of master and slave, which is the last degree of inequality, and the tern at which all the rest remain, when they have got so far, till the government is either entirely dissolved by new revolutions or brought back again to legitimacy."

3. "the flaws which make social institutions necessary are the same as make the abuse of them unavoidable."

4. "It is no easy matter to reduce to obedience a man who has no ambition to command; nor would the most adroit politician find it possible to enslave a people whose only desire was to be independent."

5. "inequality of credit and authority became unavoidable among private persons, as soon as their union in a single society made them compare themselves one with another, and take into account the differences which they found out from the continual intercourse every man had to have with his neighbors."

6. "From great inequality of fortunes and conditions, from the vast variety of passions and of talents, of useless and pernicious arts, of vain sciences, would arise a multitude of prejudices equally contrary to reason, happiness and virtue. We should see the magistrates fomenting everything that might weaken men united in society, by promoting dissension among them; everything that might sow in it the seeds of actual division, while it gave society an air of harmony; everything that might inspire the different ranks of people with mutual hatred and distrust, by setting the rights and interests of one against those of another, and so strengthen the power which comprehended them all.

7. " It is from the midst of this disorder and these revolutions, that despotism, gradually raising up its hideous head and devouring everything that remained sound and untainted in any part of the state, would at length trample on both the laws and the people, and establish itself on the ruins of the republic...... blind obedience is the only virtue which slaves can still practice."

COMPARISON OF NATURAL STATE AND CIVILIZED STATE OF MAN

1. "The savage and the civilized man differ so much in the bottom of their hearts and in their inclinations, that what constitutes the supreme happiness of one would reduce the other to despair. The former breathes only peace and liberty; he desires only to live and be free from labor;..... Civilized man, on the other hand, is always moving, sweating, toiling and racking his brains to find still more laborious occupations: he goes on in drudgery to his last moment, and even seeks death to put himself in a position to live, or renounces life to acquire immortality. He pays his court to men of power, whom he hates, and to the wealthy, whom he despises; he stops at nothing to have the honor of serving them; he is not ashamed to value himself on his own meanness and their protection; and, proud of his slavery, he speaks with disdain of those, who have not the honor of sharing it."

2. "the savage lives within himself, while social man lives constantly outside himself, and only knows how to live in the opinion of others, so that he seems to receive the consciousness of his own existence merely from the judgment of others concerning him."

3. "we have nothing to show for ourselves but a frivolous and deceitful appearance, honor without virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness....... this is not by any means the original state of man, but that it is merely the spirit of society, and the inequality which society produces that thus transform and alter all our natural inclinations."

4. "it is plainly contrary to the law of nature, however defined, that children should command old men, fools wise men, and that the privileged few should gorge themselves with superfluities, while the starving multitude are in want of the bare necessities of life."

ROUSSEAU

A DISCOURSE ON POLITICAL ECONOMY
ON LEGISLATION AND THE LAW


1. When the citizens vote, "The body politic, therefore, is also a moral being possessed of a will; and this general will, which tends always to the preservation and welfare of the whole and of every part, and is the source of the laws, constitutes for all the members of the state, in their relations to one another and to it, the rule of what is just or unjust:"

2. Within society, "very often there is a secret division, a tacit confederacy, which, for particular ends, causes the natural disposition of the assembly to be set at naught. In such a case, the body of the society is really divided into other bodies, the members of which acquire a general will, which is good and just with respect to these new bodies, but unjust and bad with regard to the whole, from which each is thus dismembered."

3. In this society, "each loses no part of his liberty but what might be hurtful to that of another? These wonders are the work of law. It is to law alone that men owe justice and liberty."

4. Regarding the law, "there are two infallible rules for its good conduct on these occasions; one is, that the spirit of the law ought to decide in every particular case that could not be foreseen; the other is that the general will, the source and supplement of all laws, should be consulted whenever they fail."

5. "It is certain that all peoples become in the long run what the government makes them; warriors, citizens, men, when it so pleases; or merely populous and rabble, when it chooses to make them so."

6. " nothing can take the place of morality in the maintenance of government."

7. "The more laws are multiplied, the more they are despised, and all new officials appointed to supervise them are only so many more people to break them, and either to share in the plunder with their predecessors, or to plunder apart on their own. The reward of virtue becomes robbery; the vilest of men rise to the greatest credit; the greater they are the more despicable they become:"

8. "What is most necessary and most difficult, in government, is rigid integrity in doing strict justice to all"

9. "There can be no patriotism without liberty, no liberty without virtue, no virtue without citizens; create citizens, and you have everything you need; without them, you will have nothing but debased slaves, from the rulers of the State downwards."

ON ECONOMICS OF THE STATE

1. "Now as every government constantly tends to become lax, this is enough to show why no state can subsist unless its revenues constantly increase.
"The first sense of the necessity of this increase is also the first sign of the internal disorder of the state;"

2. Good government must, "take more pains to guard against needs than to increase revenues."

3. "While a remedy is being found for one evil, another is beginning to make itself felt, and even in the remedies themselves produce new difficulties: so that at length the nation is involved in debt and the people oppressed, while the government loses its influence and can do very little with a great deal of money."

4. "Rulers may indeed hope to keep the peoples in stricter dependence, by thus giving them with one hand what they take from them with the other;....... but this political sophistry is the more fatal to the state, as the money never returns into the hands it went out of. Such principles only enrich the idle at the expense of the industrious."

5. "the greater a state grows, the heavier and more burdensome in proportion its expenses become;"

ON TAXES

1. "the person who has ten times the property of another man ought to pay ten times as much to the state. Secondly, the relation of the use made, that is to say, the distinction between necessaries and superfluities. He who possesses only the common necessaries of life should pay nothing at all, while the tax on him who is in possession of superfluities may justly be extended to everything he has over and above mere necessaries."

2. "to no man does the law prescribe magnificence; and propriety is no argument against right."

3. "nothing is so dangerous as a tax on corn paid by the purchaser: but...... see that it is a hundred times worse when the duty is paid by the cultivator himself? Is not this an attack on the substance of the State at its very source? ..... For the worst kind of scarcity a nation can suffer from is lack of inhabitants."

4. "All duties should be paid by the consumer of the commodity taxed than by him who sells it:"

5. "Heavy taxes should be laid on servants in livery, on equipages, rich furniture, fine clothes, on spacious courts and gardens, on public entertainments of all kinds, on useless professions, such as dancers, singers, players, and in a word, on all that multiplicity of objects of luxury, amusement and idleness, which strike the eyes of all, and can the less be hidden, as their whole purpose is to be seen, without which they would be useless."

6. "duties on the necessaries of life, as they directly trespass on the right of property, and consequently on the true foundation of political society, are always liable to have dangerous results, if they are not established with the express consent of the people or its representatives."



COMMENT ON ROUSSEAU AND HIS DISCOURSE ON THE ORIGINS OF INEQUALITY

Man in the state of Nature.

Jean Jacques Rousseau is one of many writers who deals with man living in the state of nature. This state of nature was supposed to exist before man began to think about banding together with others for mutual protection and assistance with projects that would be impossible for man to accomplish on his own. To Rousseau, man in the state of nature was good, free from labor and at liberty to do as he wished. Man was not particularly ambitious and only sought food to eat, shelter from the elements and from time to time sex. Once these needs were met, the natural man was content and happy. While other men may have been stronger, and perhaps even a threat, it was because each was self sufficient that made it difficult for one to dominate another. Man could always get away from a potential master and move on, leaving the other to fend for himself like all had to do. Man in this state did not make comparisons concerning beauty, intelligence, strength, or any other abilities that vary among men. Man was just man, attempting to satisfy his needs in any way that he could. And once those needs were satisfied, he would relax and lead a happy and contented life. Life was good in the state of nature according to Rousseau.

The Development and Decline of Society.

It is in the beginning of socialization and the advent of man living in communities that man began to lose his freedom and happiness. Rousseau believes that society corrupted man by destroying his natural compassion for others and dooming him to a lifetime of labor to provide for his necessities. It was in society that man began to make comparisons as to physical abilities, intelligence and appearances. Such comparisons made man either arrogant or envious and unhappy. In society, land no longer belonged to all but, became private property. Such private property was not equally distributed so, it eventually led to inequality among men and the distinction of rich and poor. While Rousseau saw these societies as small and pure democracies, with each man possessing a voice in the government through his vote, he saw that eventually, citizens would become too busy to collectively govern. This led to the concept of a representative government where certain individuals would make the laws for all. He called these people magistrates and he claims that it was this change from a pure democracy to a republic that led to the rise of further inequality and a distinction between the powerful and the weak. Rousseau sees the final stage of inequality coming when those in power dispense with legislation and the rule of law and begin to rule the people through their own arbitrary commands. This final inequality draws the distinction between the masters and the slaves and is the final stage of corruption. At this stage of the society man only obeys out of fear. This stage of decline endures until there is either a revolution or, a complete dissolution of the society. Society is then relegitimized and the evolutionary process begins again. While Rousseau sees society as bad for man, he goes on, in his discourse on political economy, to suggest a workable form of government. This will be discussed below.


COMMENT ON ROUSSEAU'S DISCOURSE ON POLITICAL ECONOMY

On Legislation and Law

In this work Rousseau develops the concept of the general will. Rousseau believes that the general will of the citizens always tends toward the continued health and prosperity of the State. Rousseau believed that the best kind of government was pure democracy -- where the citizens would personally make the laws that they lived under. They would do this through democratic meetings where there would be discussions and then votes that resulted in laws which were passed for the good of the society and all of the citizens. As long as the citizens were acting for the good or welfare of all, then they were producing laws that were good and in accordance with the general will. He also addresses the concept of the particular will, which is the citizen's will when they only consider their own well being and not the overall good of the community. When citizens begin to enact legislation that is based on their particular will or, laws that would benefit themselves over other citizens, they are no longer voting the general will and trouble begins for the society. Rousseau believes that if citizens only vote for their own good and not the good of the entire community, then the legislation is illegitimate and should not be binding on the community.
It is difficult to apply Rousseau's ideas to our society today because, it is rare to find any community that meets as a body and makes its own laws. Even at the local levels of politics representatives are chosen to make the laws for their communities. In Rousseau's terms, he would say that we have already given up our legislative duties to magistrates. I think we can however, apply the idea of the general will to our representatives at all levels of government. If representatives of the citizens are enacting laws that are not for the good of all, but for the good of specific groups of citizens, then they are not exercising the general will. Rousseau would claim that this is the exercise of only a particular will and not legitimate. He would say that a good way to judge these individuals would be to hold them to the standard that all legislation should either benefit all citizens or, if necessary, be detrimental to all citizens. Any other form of legislation can only be the exercise of the particular will of the representative or, the particular will of a specific group of citizens within the society. While Rousseau would think that a representative form of government is a debased form of governing, he would consider it workable if the representatives, at all levels only enacted laws in accordance with the general will.
Rousseau predicts that individual groups of citizens will always form and develop a will of their own, apart from the general will of society. When this happens, they may be exercising a general will within their group but, only a particular will with respect to the society as a whole. If such groups form, Rousseau believes that it would be better to have many such groups so that they will tend to cancel out their self serving desires. This however, is still a debased form of government because it tends to reduce the number of votes cast because, people are voting the desires of a group instead of voting for the good of the entire society. It is only when each individual thinks for himself/herself, and casts their vote for legislation that is of benefit, or detriment, to all that laws are being properly enacted and the health of the society maintained.

Rousseau believes that there should be few laws, and, that they are either beneficial to all or, detrimental to all citizens, when necessary, as a group. No laws should ever be made that benefit one group over another. If the law meets this requirement, it is a good law. The law however, once passed, must be administered strictly and fairly among all citizens. It is this strict administration of the law that leads to a just and successful society. He believes that this is difficulty to do. Because the law is administered by human beings, there is a tendency to bend the rules for some and not for others. When this happens, society is on the decline. Rousseau also believes that laws can not cover all situations that present themselves. When a situation arises that is not specifically covered by the law, magistrates or judges are supposed to examine the spirit in which the law was passed. In other words, the judges are to go back and check the discussion that took place, before the law was passed, in an effort to determine what the people legislators or representatives were trying to accomplish when they passed the law. In this manner, the judges may be able to determine whether they can make a judgment under the specific law based upon what the legislators were trying to accomplish. A good example of this is a seat belt law that was passed in Texas requiring everyone to wear seat belts. This law was passed after the federal government threatened to reduce highway funding if a seat belt law was not enacted. In the discussion among the State representatives, they indicated that citizens would not be stopped by police just for a seat belt violation. In the actual law however, there is no mention of this. The police have started to stop citizens just for seat belts. Rousseau would claim that this is not in accordance with the law because the spirit of the law is being violated. If applicability of a law cannot be determined through the spirit of the law, then, he believes that the general will must be studied to determine what the citizens would want if they were acting for the good of the whole society.

Application Today

It is also interesting that Rousseau believes that the government makes people what they are through their legislation.  He claims that if an enduring society is what is desired, then the laws passed must encourage individuals to be good, moral citizens.  He would not approve of our amoral society of today and, would probably blame both the permissive and somewhat divisive laws that are enacted by our government. Instead of making sound moral laws for all, and then strictly enforcing them, our law makers pass layer upon layer of law and then appear to enforce them sporadically. Rousseau would also be troubled by the number of laws on the books, as he believes that the fewer laws enacted, the healthier the society.  To him our society is headed toward decline and our citizens are being turned into a rabble through the lack of morality incorporated into our laws, the proliferation of unenforced laws and, the unequal prosecution of the laws. People will become what they are molded into. Thirty years ago, we were all citizens and treated with respect by a limited government of civil servants. Today, we are called taxpayers (who would ever strive to be nothing more than a taxpayer), and treated like so many insignificant numbers by arrogant, well compensated, bureaucrats. Rousseau would think that we were headed for the final stage of decline -- the rule of man by man and not by law --a master slave relationship.

On Economics of the State.

Rousseau believes that it is difficult for a governing body to control its desire to fulfill perceived needs or demands within the society. The government is continuously confronted with new demands from citizens and interest groups. As it acts to satisfy these demands, more citizen's income, in the form of taxes, is required to provide for the new programs. Rousseau indicates that once a government allows needs to expand unchecked, even laws enacted to resolve them lead to new demands and more legislation in a never ending attempt to satisfy all. All of this legislative activity is an ever increasing burden, on the citizens of the society. Eventually, through the proliferation of government at all levels and, the continuous need for additional tax revenue, the citizens find themselves hard pressed to meet their own personal needs. It is at this time, when it is difficult for the hard working people to pay any more tax, that a national crisis, of any kind, brings the state to ruin. Rousseau believes that it is necessary for government to do everything possible to keep its desire to satisfy the ever increasing demands of its citizens to a minimum. The less government and laws that a society has, the healthier the society remains. Rousseau is against big government. The bigger a society becomes, the larger the government and, the more burdensome its expenses. According to Rousseau, some corrupt governments, in a desire to keep citizens dependent, take from them with one hand and, give back with the other. Unfortunately, the money taken is never returned to those who earned it but, to other citizens whom Rousseau considers undeserving and a drain on the economic vitality of the society.

Application Today

Rousseau would claim that we have too much government and, are therefore at risk of ruin should there be a national crisis. Most working, middle-class families find it necessary for both members of the family to work in order to pay an ever increasing tax burden which hovers at 50% of their income. The modern day family is economically strapped to the point that an unexpected illness, loss of job, or extraordinary expense brings them to the brink of bankruptcy. We have City, County, State, and Federal Governments all requiring ever increasing tax revenue, in one form or another, to meet the continuous stream of new demands. It is in times like this, Rousseau would say, that the government is able to do very little with even the large sums of money that it collects from the citizens. At some time in the future, there will be a crisis of some form and, there will be no money available to meet it. It is at this time that the state will be brought to ruin, according to Rousseau.

Taxes

Rousseau thought that taxes should be paid by those most capable of paying. For him, a man who was deriving little or nothing from being a citizen, should pay nothing in tax because he was no better off than he would have been in the state of Nature. This did not mean that only the rich paid taxes but, that everyone paid taxes according to the amount of income that they earned. He believed that a man making ten times the amount of another man ought to pay ten times more in taxes. This meant that a man earning $10,000.00, assuming a 10 percent tax rate, would pay $1000.00 in tax while, a man earning $100,000.00 would pay $10,000.00 in tax. Note that the latter is paying 10 times more than his neighbor but, is still paying only 10 percent of his/her income. In this respect, both are being treated equally by their legitimately elected government. Rousseau would say that it is important that all citizens are treated equally by their legitimately elected government. Rousseau places a much more inequitable tax on luxury items. While he indicates that the man, who only has the bare essentials of life would pay no tax, the individual who has many luxury items, would pay a heavy tax on those items. The heavy tax is justified, he would say, because no one is prescribed magnificence by being a member of society. To Rousseau, it would be good to tax citizens an equal percentage of their income, and then, obtain the rest of the state funding, through duties and sales taxes on the consumers of luxury items and services. The end result of such a tax policy, he believes, would be that individuals would be more inclined to use their wealth for higher purposes, than their own luxury. No citizen would be denied the purchase of luxury items but, would have to pay a premium for them.
Rousseau sees taxes on producers of the necessities of life, like food products, as the worst form of tax and, most destructive to the society. He reasons that the farmers must always sell their produce at a low price because it is the only way that they are able to sell their harvest before it spoils. Also, many people in society can only afford necessities, therefore the price of these products can never rise above what the poorest people can pay. So, if the farmers are also taxed on their production of food, it becomes unprofitable for them to continue farming and, they desert their land in search of other types of work. Soon their is a shortage of food and the society, unable to feed itself, declines. To Rousseau, taxing the consumers on the purchase of luxury products and services and, a reasonable income tax based on a percentage of income, is a much healthier tax plan for a society.

Application Today.

An unequal income tax levied at all levels of government, property taxes, sales taxes, and various other use taxes and fees, now approach 50 percent of the average citizen's income. Such heavy taxation would be viewed as destructive by Rousseau. To him, the punitive income taxes would eventually destroy the incentive to produce and invent while property taxes, on homes, would be considered a tax on a necessity of life -- shelter. Some of our tax system however, Rousseau would embrace. He would approve of a sales tax paid on items, other than necessities, and believe it to be healthy to a democratic society as it tends to maintain a rough equality among citizens. He would also support the various use fees where those who actually use a particular service would be charged for it. For example, if a citizen uses the national road system, that citizen should pay a fee for that privilege. He would also endorse a high tax on extravagant homes, exotic cars, expensive jewelry, etc. because these are luxury items. Where natural resources were in danger of being squandered, once again, Rousseau would be in favor of higher taxation to limit demand. High taxes on the use of gasoline, and automobiles considered gas guzzlers, would appeal to Rousseau. On the other hand, Rousseau would urge the peoples representatives to search their conscience to ensure that everything that they are doing is for the good of all of the people and, not to serve a particular interest of a specific group nor, the career interest of the representative himself. This too would keep government spending down and keep taxes on citizens to a minimum. Rousseau believed that, the best society would tax all income, above a subsistence level, at an equal percentage for all citizens and place a heavy consumer tax on all goods and services considered luxury items. Additionally, he would require citizens to pay a reasonable use tax on services provided by the government should a citizen chose to use them. Rousseau would dramatically reduce taxes on the producers of goods and services as these would be viewed as essential to the health of the society.

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