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Taxation of Beauty.

Tho Chancellor of the Exchequer when presenting or about to present, his Budget, is .annually inundated with suggestions and advice as to what article should have a tax imposed upon it ; each would-be legislator of course being equally confident that his is the only right and proper way for diminishing the National Debt, or possibly producing a balance on the credit side. The list of articles when road causes much laughter, and, if the Budget is not so satisfactory as it might be, the Chancellor of the Exchequer benefits, by this hilarity, inasmuch as hy the time he is ready to proceed to the business part of his speech, the “House” is in a good humor. Amongst other gratuitous counsel there was one suggestion at the last “presentation” that struck us as being decidedly good. That was the proposal to tax photographs. The enormous increase of late years in this branch of pictorial art fully justifies the supposition that a small imposition would he a great source of revenue; and as the main object and aim of a Government is to tax luxuries onty, leaving intact the necessary commodities of every-day life, it would seem to answer this requirement completely. It cannot be said that photography, especially portraiture, is a necessity, it must come under tho head of a luxury. It is one of “ Mary Ann’s ” chief delights to be “took” with-her young man,” and theeffigy, costing from sixpence to a shilling, will remain in her possession long after

tTio ‘‘young man" has trjftsferrei powers of fascination to others; or it be that Mary Ann herself is some changeable, in which case her box contain a perfect gallery of her portrait, with the protecting arms various ‘ ‘ young men ” encircling waist. Again, surely it is not a necess that photographs of reigning beauties, so-ealled beauties, should fill our sh windows, side by side with actressi leaders of the derai monde, malefacto and murderers, all labelled and ticketted“Mr A., 2s fid ”; Mrs 8., 2s ”; “ Mau C., 3s”; and “Putney Bill, in great dt mand, 2s 3d”? No. The vanity 0 human nature, whether displayed as ii the case of Mary Ann, or by the love o, publicity, as in the other ' instances (save and except, perhaps, “Putney Bill,”), is fair game for taxation, and well worthy of consideration. At first sight it would seem somewhat difficult to collect the tax, or to obtain even an approximate idea of how many photographs were taken in the year by the various “ galleries,” “ studios,” and “ companies ” now extant. There are, however, many ways by which this difficulty might be overcome. Either by compelling each artist to take out a license, costing, say £ls per annum, or by having every card on which the photograph is mounted stamped at so much apiece, as is done abroad with bills and advertisements; or perhaps the best 1 method of all would be—a fair impost on every lens or apparatus in the studio. It 1 would, of course, increase the price of ' photography in a small degree, but that ! cannot, be held up as a disadvantage, or one that the public would feel very strongly about. We doubt if it would r diminish the production by as much as r one “carte.” For a short space cerr tainly, the “young men” and “ fol--1 lowers ” might grumble at having to pay a penny or so extra for Mary Ann’s picture, and the contractors for maleic factors and beauties might raise the 1 cuckoo cry of “injury to trade.” But 3 that would not cause a revolution or civil I war. Even if their trade were slightly k damaged by reason of the increased 3 price, the pandering to human vanity is 3 not an article of commerce that is essenf tial to the the welfare of the country, but 1 rather the reverse. Indeed, it will be a I healthy sign when the public are tired of 3 portraits of celebrities and themselves, or 1 their husbands, perceive how execrable is I the taste which allows of the practice? 1 being carried on.

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Taxation of Beauty. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 16, 1 November 1879

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