Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

amount of value which he can exact depends on the extent to which the right of property gives him this power to withhold and prohibit. It is by defining property as the right of obtaining services and then using it as the right of preventing services that business economy can set itself up for political economy.

John R. COMMONS. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN.

THE MEETINGS OF BRITISH AND OF AMERICAN

ECONOMISTS.

The question is sometimes asked whether it would not be wise for the American Economic Association to co-operate with the economic section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, after the example of Section F of the British Association. Complete merger is probably out of the question, but joint meetings have been suggested. Having recently attended the meeting of the British Association, held at Leicester in August of the present year, I am led to make the following observations.

In the first place, conditions are radically different in the two countries. In Great Britain the teaching of economics was, until recently, confined to Oxford and Cambridge and a half-dozen of the other leading colleges and universities. Tho there has been considerable expansion during the last few years, there is still only a handful of professional economists,-.e., men who find a career in teaching economics or carrying on economic investigations: whereas in this country they number well up into the hundreds. Therefore, the British economists have no real alternative. The choice is between a separate meeting, sparsely attended, with no city or town offering attractive inducements to meet within its precincts and providing for comfort and convenience, and, on the other hand, a meeting in conjunction with a large and honored body of scientific workers whose presence is sought as a rare favor by the leading cities of the empire, and for whose entertainment and comfort everything is done which a city can do. Even tho the economic section is overshadowed by the older sections, the advantages are so overwhelmingly on the side of the joint meeting that there is really no choice.

In this country, on the other hand, the economists can, in a separate organization, get all the advantages in the way of invitations, railway rates, entertainment, and accommodations which they could get under a merger. There being nothing to be gained on this most practical but external side by joining the larger body of scientific workers in all fields, the American economists are in a position to choose what form of organization they will maintain, and to base that choice upon grounds other than mere external expediency.

If the Leicester meeting is a fair sample of the meetings of the British Association, there are many advantages in joining so large a body. The mere coming together of so large and distinguished a body of scholars creates a social event of considerable magnitude, and many estimable people, with only an incidental interest in science, are attracted to the meetings. They come from all parts of the United Kingdom and from all walks of life, and it is to be presumed that they take away a somewhat deeper interest in serious topics. At the same time this enables the scientists present to mingle a good deal of social recreation with the more serious purposes of the meeting. There is, on the other hand, the disadvantages of leaving time for only one meeting each day,—at least this was true of the economic section.

At the same time it is impossible to forget that the traditions of the Association are those of the physical sciences. The atmosphere is that of physical science, and, tho there is every possible courtesy shown to the economic section, one cannot help noticing a faintly apologetic air among the economists for being there at all. This, of course, applies to all the newer sections as well. It reacts unfortunately upon the tone of the discussion. That part of the general public which comes to the meetings of the Association is still interested mainly in the older sections representing the physical sciences. Therefore, the economic sectionjudging by this year's meeting-has to compete for an audience. Of course, it is always a difficult matter for an economic association to preserve a proper balance between its character as a scientific body and as a "current topics club”; but this competition tends to develop unduly the current topics side. After the opening meeting the meetings were all devoted mainly to topics of current interest, while certain admirable papers of permanent scientific value were edged in, after some shifting about, whenever there happened to be time, but when discussion was impossible.

Incidentally, it may be mentioned that the administrative work is somewhat complicated by the joint meeting. When the local committees have several sections to provide for, and when the officers of one section have to make the arrangements with respect to the convenience of a number of other sections besides their own, the inevitable result is a certain amount of irritating confusion. This, however, we have experienced here through our arrangement for joint meetings with the Historical Association, and the difficulty is likely to increase rather than to diminish now that the Political Science and Sociological Associations have joined the group. The question presents itself whether the Economic Association should not separate itself from the group to which it now belongs and hold its meetings separately. The writer is inclined to take the affirmative of this question as soon as the Association is large enough to secure such external advantages as special railway rates and hotel accommodations. Since these advantages are assured us under the present arrangement, the arguments seem to be overwhelmingly against becoming a section of the Association for the Advancement of Science.

T. N. CARVER. THE MASSACHUSETTS INHERITANCE TAX

OF 1907.

Massachusetts, by the Act of June 21, 1907, has become one of the States now imposing direct taxes on inheritances. The pressure for legislation of this sort has for several years been strong in the State. The Tax Commission of 1897 recommended it, and presented a carefully framed bill. In the recommendations of that Commission the introduction of the inheritance tax was to be part of a comprehensive reform of the entire tax system of the State. Such a comprehensive reform, however, is extremely difficult to bring about in any American State. Improvement in tax methods takes place step by step, not by radical changes. Endeavors to enact an inheritance tax have been made at almost every session of the legislature since 1897, and bills have passed one house or the other, usually blocked at the end on the ground that this piece of legislation should not stand alone. The pressure, however, in favor of it became too strong for resistance, and has resulted in the statute of 1907.

The act virtually divides those inheriting property into three classes: class A (so designated in the act) consisting of very near relatives; class B (also designated in the act), remoter relatives; and, finally, a third class (not given any name in the act) including all others.

Class A includes husband, wife, lineal ancestor, lineal descendant, adopted child, the lineal descendant of any adopted child, the wife or widow of a son, and the husband of a daughter, of a decedent. Property passing to a member of class A is subject to a tax of

1 per cent. if its value does not exceed $50,000. 1} per cent. if its value is between $50,000 and $100,000. 2 per cent. if its value exceeds $100,000. Class B includes brother, sister, nephew, and niece. The tax rate on property passing to a member of class B is:

3 per cent. if its value does not exceed $25,000. 4 per cent. if its value is between $25,000 and $100,000. 5 per cent. if its value exceeds $100,000.

The third class includes all others. In it there is a uniform tax of 5 per cent.

One important difference is to be noted between classes A and B and the third (drag-net) class. With respect to the first two, the tax is levied not upon the total property bequeathed, but upon the property going “to or for the use of a member” of the class; that is, it is levied not upon the property as a whole, but upon the distributive share, and the tax rate accordingly is determined by the amount of the distributive share. In the drag-net clause, however, this is not the case. There the tax is levied at the uniform rate, irrespective of the amount of any distributive share.

There are certain exemptions. All property passing to charitable, educational, or religious institutions, whose property is by law exempt from taxation, is not subject to the new tax; neither is property going to a city or town for public purposes. Further, a distributive share passing to a husband, wife, father, mother, child, or adopted child (observe that this is not precisely the same as class A), is not subject to the tax unless its value exceeds $10,000. Similarly, no other distributive share is subject to tax unless its value exceeds $1,000.

The tax is applicable to all property "within jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, corporeal or incorporeal.” It is thus levied with respect to real property as well as with respect to personal property. Moreover, corporate shares in corporations chartered by the State or in national banks within its limits are within its scope. The holdings by nonresident owners of such securities are hence subject to it. The collection of taxes on such securities, even in the case of non-residents, is assured by a provision making the corporation or bank liable for the tax in case of share transfers by foreign executors, unless it appear that the tax has been duly paid.

So far the act sweeps into its net everything which the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »