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5 December 2006, by
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No increase of taxation;
No bankruptcy, neither avowed, nor masked by forced reductions.
No increase of taxation: the reason is in the situation of your people, and even more in Your Majesty’s heart.
No loans, because any loan always decreases the free income; it requires at the end of some time either the bankruptcy, or the increase of taxation. In peace time, one should borrow only to liquidate old debts, or to refund other loans made at a more expensive rate.
To fill out these three points, there is only one way. It is to reduce the expenditure below the revenue, and below enough to save each year a score of millions, in order to refund old debts. Without that, the first blow of gun would force the State to the bankruptcy.
It is asked what to cut off, and each Director, in his part, will support that all any particular expenditure is essential. They can say very good reasons; but as there is no reason to make what is impossible, it is necessary that all these reasons yield to the peremptory necessity of economy.
It is thus of peremptory necessity that Your Majesty requires all the Directors of all the parts to act in concert with the Minister of Finance. It is essential that he can discuss with them in the presence of Your Majesty the degree of need of the expenditure suggested. It is especially necessary that when you have, Sire, fixed the level of funds of each department, you forbid the one who is in charge to order any new expenditure without having concerted before with Finance the means of providing for it. Without that, each department would undertake debts which would be always debts of Your Majesty, and the Director of Finance could not be answerable for the balance between the expenditure and the revenue.
Your Majesty knows that one of the largest obstacles to the economy is the multiple requests He is continuously assailed with, unfortunately authorized thanks to the too great facility of his predecessors to welcome them.
It is necessary, Sire, to arm yourself against your kindness with your kindness itself; to consider those from whom this money comes you can distribute to your courtiers, and compare the misery of those from whom it is sometimes required to tear off it by the most rigorous executions, with the situation of those who have more titles to obtain your liberalities…
I anticipated that I will be alone to fight against the abuses of any kind, against the efforts of those who gain with these abuses, against the crowd of the prejudices which are opposed to any reform, and which are a so powerful means in the hands of people interested in perpetuating the disorder. I will have to fight even against the natural kindness, the generosity of Your Majesty and of those who are most dear to Him. I will be even dreaded, hated, by most of the Court, by all those who request graces. I will be charged of all refusals; I will be painted as a hard man because I will have upheld to Your Majesty that He should not enrich even those that He dears at the expense of the subsistence of his People. This people to which I will have sacrificed myself is so easy to mislead, that perhaps I incurred its hatred by same measurements as I will take to defend it against vexation. I will be calumniated, perhaps with enough plausibility to lose Your Majesty’s confidence.
I will not regret a position I had not expected. I am ready to surrender it to Your Majesty as soon as I cannot hope any more to be useful to Him; but his regard, the reputation of integrity, the public benevolence which determined his choice in my favour, are dearer to me than the life, and I take the risk of losing them, even not deserving in my eyes any reproach.
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot
Compiègne, August 24, 1774