A Protest against Law Taxes

Jeremy Bentham

Footnote #05
Another tax upon distress

This species of tax would stand absolutely alone in point of depravity, were it not for the tax on drugs, as far as it extends to those used in medicine. This, as being also a tax upon distress, is so far in specie the same, but is nothing to it in degree. To recover a shilling in the way of justice, it will cost you at least £24, of which a good part in taxes: but to be admitted to buy a shilling's worth of medicine for a shilling, it does not cost you threepence. Hospitals for the sick are not uncommon: there are none for harassed and impoverished suitors. There are Lady Bountifuls that relieve the sick from the tax on medicines, and the price of them into the bargain: but a Lady Bountiful must be bountiful indeed, to take the place of attorney and counsel, as well as of physician and apothecary and supply a poor man with as many pounds worth of latitats and pleas, as he must have to recover a shilling. A man cannot, as we have seen, insure himself against lawsuits: but a man may insure himself, and many thousands actual] do insure themselves against sickness. But these reliefs are neither certain nor general and after all, a tax on him who has had a leg or an arm broken, a tax on him who has had a fit of the ague, gout, rheumatism, or stone, will be the worst possible species of tax, next to a tax on justice.

N. B. The tax on quack medicines, that is, on unknown and unapproved medicines, leaving all known and approved ones untouched, falls in a less degree, if at all, under this censure.

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A Protest against Law Taxes