Montesquieu

The reve­nues of the state are a por­tion of what each citi­zen gives of his own in order to have secu­rity for the rest, or to enjoy it agreea­bly.

In order to set Revenues pro­perly, atten­tion must be paid both to the neces­si­ties of the state and the neces­si­ties of the citi­zens. One must not take from the real needs of the peo­ple for ima­gi­nary needs of the state.

Imaginary needs are what is deman­ded by the pas­sions and weak­nes­ses of those who govern : the attrac­tion of an extra­or­di­nary pro­ject, the sick cra­ving for vain­glory, and a cer­tain impo­tence of mind against fan­ta­sies. Often those who, with a rest­less spi­rit, were under the prince in charge of busi­ness, have thought that the needs of the state were the needs of their petty minds.

There is nothing that wis­dom and pru­dence need more to deter­mine than the por­tion that is taken and the por­tion left to the sub­jects.

It is not by what the peo­ple can give that public reve­nues should be mea­su­red, but by what they must give ; and if they are mea­su­red by what the peo­ple can give, it should at least be by what they can always give.