By Walter Bagehot
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They would have had to teach a lesson both pleasant and true, and such lessons are soon learned. On the whole, therefore, the result of the comparison is that a Presidential government makes it much easier than the Parliamentary to maintain a great surplus of income over expenditure, but that it does not give the same facility for examining whether it be good or not good to maintain a surplus, and, therefore, that it works blindly, maintaining surpluses when they do extreme harm just as much as when they are very beneficial.
The great scene of debate, the great engine of popular instruction and political controversy, is the legislative assembly. A speech there by an eminent statesman, a party movement by a great political combination, are the best means yet known for arousing, enlivening, and teaching a people. The Cabinet system ensures such debates, for it makes them the means by which statesmen advertise themselves for future and confirm themselves in present Governments. It brings forward men eager to speak, and gives them occasions to speak.
Wells tells us:-"In the outset all direct or internal taxation was avoided, there having been apparently an apprehension on the part of Congress, that inasmuch as the people had never been accustomed to it, and as all machinery for assessment and collection was wholly wanting, its adoption would create discontent, and thereby interfere with a vigorous prosecution of hostilities. Congress, therefore, confined itself at first to the enactment of measures looking to an increase of revenue from the increase of indirect taxes upon imports; and it was not until four months after the actual outbreak of hostilities that a direct tax of $20,000,000 per annum was apportioned among the States, and an income tax of 3 per cent.