Mountains of Debt: Crisis and Change in Renaissance Florence, Victorian Britain, and Postwar America

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Oxford University Press, Nov 29, 1990 - Business & Economics - 256 pages
Like the United States today, Renaissance Florence and Victorian Britain were the richest, most dynamic economic systems of their times. Yet each succumbed to a fiscal crisis brought on by public debt and taxation and eventually fell into long-term economic decline. Now, public debt and taxation dominate the America policy agenda. Must the United States follow the same dismal pattern of fiscal crisis and economic decline? Mountains of Debt argues that it is not too late for the United States to change directions and suggests a comprehensive program for reform of American fiscal institutions that would reduce the deficit problem and at the same time reverse the long-term structural trends that are both the cause and the effect of the fiscal crisis today. Offering proposals for reducing the deficit, this new analysis could alter the current course of the United States economy.

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1 Structural Change and Fiscal Crisis
Death Birth and the Fifth Element
3 Mountains of Debt and the Heart of Florence
Britain and the Industrial Revolution
5 The Odious Tax and the Standing Miracle
6 The American Century and the American Crisis
7 The Changing Structure of American Government
8 The New Mountains of Debt
9 Saddle Points
10 Changing Directions

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Page 112 - ... that comes from abroad, or is grown at home — taxes on the raw material — taxes on every fresh value that is added to it by the industry of man...
Page 112 - His whole property is then immediately taxed from two to ten per cent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for burying him in the chancel ; his virtues are handed down to posterity on taxed marble ; and he is then gathered to his fathers — to be taxed no more.
Page 112 - Taxes on the sauce which pampers man's appetite, and the drug that restores him to health ; on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope which hangs the criminal ; on the poor man's salt, and the rich man's spice; on the brass nails of the coffin, and the ribands of the bride.
Page 112 - ... man's appetite, and the drug that restores him to health; on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope which hangs the criminal; on the poor man's salt, and the rich man's spice; on the brass nails of the coffin and the ribands of the bride; at bed or board; couchant or levant we must pay.
Page 112 - The schoolboy whips his taxed top — the beardless youth manages his taxed horse, with a taxed bridle, on a taxed road ; — and the dying Englishman, pouring his medicine, which has paid 7 per cent., into a spoon that has paid 15 per cent. — flings himself back upon his chintz bed, which has paid 22 per cent. — and expires in the arms of an apothecary, who has paid a license of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death.
Page 96 - Britain, we may say, was becoming a parasitic rather than a competitive economy, living off the remains of world monopoly, the underdeveloped world, her past accumulations of wealth and the advance of her rivals.
Page 47 - They are unwilling, for fear of offending the people, who, by so great and so sudden an increase of taxes, would soon be disgusted with the war ; and they are unable, from not well knowing what taxes would be sufficient to produce the revenue wanted.
Page 91 - for a time at least — (and I never had occasion to make a proposition with a more thorough conviction of its being one which the public...
Page 120 - ... capital to another country, where he will be exempted from such burthens, becomes at last irresistible, and overcomes the natural reluctance which every man feels to quit the place of his birth, and the scene of his early associations. A country which has involved itself in the difficulties attending this artificial system, would act wisely by ransoming itself from them, at the sacrifice of any portion of its property which might be necessary to redeem its debt.
Page 167 - America has thrown itself a party and billed the tab to the future. The costs, which are only beginning to come due, will include a lower standard of living for individual Americans and reduced American influence and importance in world affairs.

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