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I found this translated quote : In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another.
The quote is well translated but with small subtleties, as if someone is trying to hide the blunt meaning. Thus i will translate it as it should have been translated:
The art of ruling consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another.
L’art de gouverner consiste à prendre le plus d’argent possible à une catégorie de citoyens afin de le donner à une autre.Voltaire
This quote surely was true in the past, at the time of Voltaire, and surely still stands true today.
At the time of Voltaire,
Voltaire lived in pre-revolutionary France, which classified the population into 3 distinct classes: the First Estate consisted of the clergy, the Second Estate included the aristocracy, and the Third Estate was composed of the rest of the population.
The tax system in pre-revolutionary France largely exempted the nobles and the clergy from taxes. The tax burden therefore devolved to the peasants, wage-earners, and the professional and business classes, also known as the Third Estate.
Does Voltaire’s quote applies today? Let’s see….
Today, everyone pays taxes. Of course the rich know how to avoid taxes and how to take advantage of tax breaks but also of government grants. Whereas the employees pay between 20% and 60% in taxes, hidden in different forms of taxes like VAT, import duties, payroll tax, and so on …
Where do this money go, a small part goes to public contracts, the biggest part goes to the structure that consist this government, including the different substructures and the army.
Thus in a way, the ruler (government) is taking from a class (employed) and giving to big corporations in the form of public contracts and to it’s own structures.