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It is all very well to laugh at M. Giraud, who has brought in a bill for taxing all idle folks in France. Those who do so—and their name in legion if counted on the Boulevards alone—are mostly under the delusion that the idea in original; but M. Francique Sarcey combats this impression and makes out that the real author of the suggestion was Alexander Dumas. In his “ Question d‘Argent,” the novelist introduces a political economist sighing for the time when there will bo establisod a “ civil conscription.” When wars have vanished from the scene, and industrial arts have taken their place, all that society will require of her children will be, as this theorist declares, “ the tribute of their intellectual capacities.” As soon aa a man is twenty-one, the State will ask him, “ What profession have you chosen V’ and if it finds that lie' neither has one nor intends to do any 'work, it will impose upon him the necessity of finding a substitute ; that is to say, will exact from him a tax or fine for his idleness. In return for this payment he will be furnished with an “idler’s certificate,” the production of which will enable him to pass freely about the country. The idep will not perhaps seem quite absurd to a. business man in England who happens to walk down the “ ladies’ mile” at about one o’clock on any of these May days. But before Jt could be adopted there would bo a decided difficulty In defining the term “ idleness,” and some curious problems would present themselves in deciding who was and who was not a working man. Such a person as Mr. Arch, who does a good deal of talking, and is in one sense by no means idle, w r ould not a little puzzle the inspectors of idleness, while there might bo considerable doubts as to the position of a statesman out of office, a landowner engaged in improving his own estates, a director of rotten companies, a workman out on strike. It would, perhaps, be as well in the first place to tax persons who are actually obuorious to their follow-creatures before proceeding to lay a burden upon those who are merely harmless and unprofitable.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 143, 24 August 1880

Word Count

A TAX FOR IDLERS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 143, 24 August 1880