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FREE The Wife Of Martin Guerre Essay - Example Essays
Some further observations require to be made on educational endowments, which are in some respects a peculiar case. Of these it cannot be said, in the present day at least, that they provide what, but for them, would not be provided at all. Education there would still be, and the real question is one of quality. Neither, again, has the argument, so important in other cases, of the protection due to uncustomary opinions, more than a limited application here. A very small minority is able to support a private school suitable to its requirements; and it might even seem that minorities are never in so much danger of being left out, as in the case of endowed institutions for education, which are usually more or less bound to opinions widely prevalent, and which, when the time has come for bringing them under the control of the State, fall into the power of the majority. This danger is very serious, when State institutions, or endowments under State superintendence, have a monopoly of education, or when those who are there educated have, as they have usually had, legal preferences or advantages over other people. But if endowed institutions, originally of a national character, or which have become so by the expiration of the term of inviolability, are open to all alike; and open in the only true sense, that is, with full liberty to refuse one part of the teaching while accepting another part; minorities would enjoy all the benefits that the endowments could give, while retaining the full power of providing, at their own cost, any education which they may consider preferable.
All around him he finds the soil preoccupied. Can he cultivate the earth for himself? No; for the right of the first occupant has become a right of property. Can he gather the fruits which the hand of God ripens on the path of man? No; for, like the soil, the fruits have been Can he hunt or fish? No; for that is a right which is dependent upon the government. Can he draw water from a spring enclosed in a field? No; for the proprietor of the field is, in virtue of his right to the field, proprietor of the fountain. Can he, dying of hunger and thirst, stretch out his hands for the charity of his fellow creatures? No; for there are laws against begging. Can he, exhausted by fatigue and without a refuge, lie down to sleep upon the pavement of the streets? No; for there are laws against vagabondage. Can he, flying from the cruel native land where everything is denied him, seek the means of living far from the place where life was given him? No; for it is not permitted to change your country except on certain conditions which the poor man cannot fulfil.
Wife of Martin Guerre Essay - 454 Words - StudyMode
But there are other respects, equally important, in which the charges brought by Socialists against competition do not admit of so complete an answer. Competition is the best security for cheapness, but by no means a security for quality. In former times, when producers and consumers were less numerous, it was a security for both. The market was not large enough nor the means of publicity sufficient to enable a dealer to make a fortune by continually attracting new customers: his success depended on his retaining those that he had; and when a dealer furnished good articles, or when he did not, the fact was soon known to those whom it concerned, and he acquired a character for honest or dishonest dealing of more importance to him than the gain that would be made by cheating casual purchasers. But on the great scale of modern transactions, with the great multiplication of competition and the immense increase in the quantity of business competed for, dealers are so little dependent on permanent customers that character is much less essential to them, while there is also far less certainty of their obtaining the character they deserve. The low prices which a tradesman advertises are known, to a thousand for one who has discovered for himself or learned from others, that the bad quality of the goods is more than an equivalent for their cheapness; while at the same time the much greater fortunes now made by some dealers excite the cupidity of all, and the greed of rapid gain substitutes itself for the modest desire to make a living by their business. In this manner, as wealth increases and greater prizes seem to be within reach, more and more of a gambling spirit is introduced into commerce; and where this prevails not only are the simplest maxims of prudence disregarded, but all, even the most perilous, forms of pecuniary improbity receive a terrible stimulus. This is the meaning of what is called the intensity of modern competition. It is further to be mentioned that when this intensity has reached a certain height, and when a portion of the producers of an article or the dealers in it have resorted to any of the modes of fraud, such as adulteration, giving short measure, &c., of the increase of which there is now so much complaint, the temptation is immense on these to adopt the fraudulent practices, who would not have originated them; for the public are aware of the low prices fallaciously produced by the frauds, but do not find out at first, if ever, that the article is not worth the lower price, and they will not go on paying a higher price for a better article, and the honest dealer is placed at a terrible disadvantage. Thus the frauds, begun by a few, become customs of the trade, and the morality of the trading classes is more and more deteriorated.
One thing there is, which if it could be affirmed truly, would relieve social institutions from any share in the responsibility of these evils. Since the human race has no means of enjoyable existence, or of existence at all, but what it derives from its own labour and abstinence, there would be no ground for complaint against society if every one who was willing to undergo a fair share of this labour and abstinence could attain a fair share of the fruits. But is this the fact? Is it not the reverse of the fact? The reward, instead of being proportioned to the labour and abstinence of the individual, is almost in an inverse ratio to it: those who receive the least, labour and abstain the most. Even the idle, reckless, and ill-conducted poor, those who are said with most justice to have themselves to blame for their condition, often undergo much more and severer labour, not only than those who are born to pecuniary independence, but than almost any of the more highly remunerated of those who earn their subsistence; and even the inadequate self-control exercised by the industrious poor costs them more sacrifice and more effort than is almost ever required from the more favoured members of society. The very idea of distributive justice, or of any proportionality between success and merit, or between success and exertion, is in the present state of society so manifestly chimerical as to be relegated to the regions of romance. It is true that the lot of individuals is not wholly independent of their virtue and intelligence; these do really tell in their favour, but far less than many other things in which there is no merit at all. The most powerful of all the determining circumstances is birth. The great majority are what they were born to be. Some are born rich without work, others are born to a position in which they can become rich work, the great majority are born to hard work and poverty throughout life, numbers to indigence. Next to birth the chief cause of success in life is accident and opportunity. When a person not born to riches succeeds in acquiring them, his own industry and dexterity have generally contributed to the result; but industry and dexterity would not have sufficed unless there had been also a concurrence of occasions and chances which falls to the lot of only a small number. If persons are helped in their worldly career by their virtues, so are they, and perhaps quite as often, by their vices: by servility and sycophancy, by hard-hearted and close-fisted selfishness, by the permitted lies and tricks of trade, by gambling speculations, not seldom by downright knavery. Energies and talents are of much more avail for success in life than virtues; but if one man succeeds by employing energy and talent in something generally useful, another thrives by exercising the same qualities in out-generalling and ruining a rival. It is as much as any moralist ventures to assert, that, other circumstances being given, honesty is the best policy, and that with parity of advantages an honest person has better chances than a rogue. Even this in many stations and circumstances of life is questionable; anything more than this is out of the question. It cannot be pretended that honesty, as a means of success, tells for as much as a difference of one single step on the social ladder. The connection between fortune and conduct is mainly this, that there is a degree of bad conduct, or rather of some kinds of bad conduct, which suffices to ruin any amount of good fortune; but the converse is not true: in the situation of most people no degree whatever of good conduct can be counted upon for raising them in the world, without the aid of fortunate accidents.
The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis - English Works
The first part of our task is by no means difficult; since it consists only in an enumeration of existing evils. Of these there is no scarcity, and most of them are by no means obscure or mysterious. Many of them are the veriest commonplaces of moralists, though the roots even of these lie deeper than moralists usually attempt to penetrate. So various are they that the only difficulty is to make any approach to an exhaustive catalogue. We shall content ourselves for the present with mentioning a few of the principal. And let one thing be remembered by the reader. When item after item of the enumeration passes before him, and he finds one fact after another which he has been accustomed to include among the necessities of nature urged as an accusation against social institutions, he is not entitled to cry unfairness, and to protest that the evils complained of are inherent in Man and Society, and are such as no arrangements can remedy. To assert this would be to beg the very question at issue. No one is more ready than Socialists to admit—they affirm it indeed much more decidedly than truth warrants—that the evils they complain of are irremediable in the present constitution of society. They propose to consider whether some other form of society may be devised which would not be liable to those evils, or would be liable to them in a much less degree. Those who object to the present order of society, considered as a whole, and who accept as an alternative the possibility of a total change, have a right to set down all the evils which at present exist in society as part of their case, whether these are apparently attributable to social arrangements or not, provided they do not flow from physical laws which human power is not adequate, or human knowledge has not yet learned, to counteract. Moral evils, and such physical evils as would be remedied if all persons did as they ought, are fairly chargeable against the state of society which admits of them; and are valid as arguments until it is shown that any other state of society would involve an equal or greater amount of such evils. In the opinion of Socialists, the present arrangements of society in respect to Property and the Production and Distribution of Wealth, are, as means to the general good, a total failure. They say that there is an enormous mass of evil which these arrangements do not succeed in preventing; that the good, either moral or physical, which they realise is wretchedly small compared with the amount of exertion employed, and that even this small amount of good is brought about by means which are full of pernicious consequences, moral and physical.
Notwithstanding, however, the well-grounded objections on the score of justice, in a merely pecuniary point of view, to which a tax on capital is liable, the subject cannot be altogether disregarded by economists and politicians. No tax is in itself absolutely just; the justice or injustice of taxes can only be comparative: if just in the conception, they are never completely so in the application: and it is quite possible that nations may some day be obliged to resort to a moderate tax on all property, as the least unjust mode of raising a part of their revenue. The many injustices of a direct income-tax are generally acknowledged; while perhaps the greatest of all is that which is the least complained of, that it is a tax on conscience, and a premium on deception and improbity. The increase of commercial dishonesty, so much complained of for many years past, was predicted by good judges as the certain effect of Sir Robert Peel’s income-tax; and it will never be known for how much of that evil product the tax may be accountable, or in how many cases a false return of income was the first dereliction of pecuniary integrity. Nevertheless, an income-tax is felt to be indispensable on our present financial system, because without it there are actually no means, recognised by existing opinion, of making the richer classes pay their just share of taxation—a thing which cannot be done by any system of taxes on consumption yet devised. Succession duties are, no doubt, the least objectionable mode of making property, as distinguished from income, contribute directly to the State, and they should be employed as far as practicable; but unless the duty is very light, there is great difficulty in protecting it against evasion. The tax proposed by Mr. Baer may, therefore, some time or other, have to be taken into serious consideration: and should that time come, his remarks on the practical side of the question will be found well worth attending and referring to by those who have to deal with the subject.
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The wife of martin guerre essays
But the main question is, in what sense is equality of means to be understood? and what constitutes a person’s means? They are, according to Mr. Baer, of two descriptions: productive (if he have any such) and unproductive. The former are capital, and land employed as a source of income; the latter is his income, such parts excepted as he saves and converts into capital. In order, therefore, to reach the whole of his means, we ought to tax his income, and also his land and capital. An income-tax Mr. Baer rejects, and some of the objections to it are stated by him with much force. Income, in his opinion, is best reached by taxes on consumption, imposed on such articles or modes of outlay as can be taxed without interfering with the channels of industry, and as may be considered fair tests of a person’s general expenditure: houses, servants, horses, and carriages Mr. Baer considers to be among the best. Capital and land he would tax by a percentage on their money value, which (as he remarks) represents, in the case of capital, only such part of the income from it as is measured by the ordinary rate of interest, and spares all such part as is either compensation for extra risk, or a return for the skill and industry of the possessor. The tax is to extend to property not yielding income, if of a kind admitting of accumulation, such as houses, furniture, pictures, and sculptures, The practical means of levying such a tax are discussed in some detail by Mr. Baer, and he succeeds to a great extent in showing that there are accessible criteria which would in most cases enable it to be assessed with little danger of fraud by the taxpayer, or undue exaction by the receiver, and without harassing inquisition into private affairs; while, at the worst, the evils of this sort would be many times less for a tax on capital, than they necessarily are for taxes on income.
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