When I take a rest form reading posts and my choirs, I usually reach for my book and read fora while. Today, I realized what I was reading was in the van, and grabbed a book at random from the book shelf. What I grabbed was "A history of the modern world", a Text Book from my freshman year in college. I opended it a random and on page 338 (a chapter on the French Revolution) read the following (edited for space not content). THE FINANCICAL CRISIS The revolution was precipitated by a financial collapse of government. What overloaded the government...what overloaded all governments was war costs, both current upkeep of armies and navies and the burden of public debt, which in all countries was due almost totally to the war costs of the past...The French debt stood at almost four billion Livres. It had been greatly swollen by the War of American Independence. Yet the debt could not be carried, for the simple reason that the French budget did not balance. Taxes and other revenue fell short of necessary expenditures. This in turn was not due to national poverty, but to the tax exemptions and tax evasions of privileged elements, expecially the nobles. We have already described how the most important tax, the Taille was generally paid only by the peasants - the nobles being exempt and office holders and bourgeois obtaining exemptions in various ways. The church too insisted that it's property was not taxable by the state...thus although the country itself was prosperous, the government treasury was empty. The social classes which enjoyed much of the wealth of the country did not pay taxes corresponding to their income, and even worse, they resisted taxation as degrading".