Montesquieu

The maxim of the great empi­res of the Orient, of retur­ning tri­bu­tes to the pro­vin­ces that have suf­fe­red, ought to be adop­ted in monar­chi­cal sta­tes. There are some where it is esta­bli­shed, but it is more cru­shing than if it were not, because with the prince deman­ding nei­ther more nor less, the whole state sha­res the res­pon­si­bi­lity. To relieve a vil­lage that under­pays, the bur­den is put on ano­ther that pays bet­ter ; the first vil­lage is not res­to­red, and the second is des­troyed. The peo­ple are des­pe­rate bet­ween the neces­sity of paying for fear of extor­tions, and the dan­ger of paying for fear of sur­char­ges.

A well-gover­ned state must put as its first item of expense a spe­ci­fic sum for for­tui­tous cases. The public, like indi­vi­duals, impo­ve­rish them­sel­ves if they spend exactly the income from their lands.

With res­pect to co-lia­bi­lity among inha­bi­tants of the same vil­lage, it has been said that it was rea­so­na­ble, because a frau­du­lent plot could be sup­po­sed on their part1 ; but where did we get the idea that, based on sup­po­si­tions, some­thing unjust in itself and rui­nous for the state had to be ins­ti­tu­ted ?

See the Treatise on the Finances of the Romans, ch. ii, printed in Paris by Briasson, 1740. [Traité des finances et de la fausse monnoie des Romains, by Guillaume Beauvais.]