War-Time Financial Problems eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about War-Time Financial Problems.
for itself what is needed for the war.  There is thus throughout the country this unwholesome process of competition between the Government on one hand and unpatriotic spenders on the other, who, between them, put up prices against the Government and against all those unfortunate, defenceless people who, being in possession of fixed salaries, or of fixed incomes, have no remedy against rising prices and rising taxation.  All that could possibly have been spent on the war in this country was the total income of the people, less what was required for maintaining the people in health and efficiency.  That total income Government might, in theory, have taken.  If it had done so it could and would have paid for the whole of the war out of taxation.

All this, I shall be told, is much too theoretical and idealistic; these things could not have been done in practice.  Perhaps not, though it is by no means certain, when we look back on the very different temper that ruled In the country in the early months of the war.  If anything of the kind could have been done it would certainly have been a practical proof of determination for the war which would have shown more clearly than anything else that “no price was too high when Honour was at stake.”  It would also have been an extraordinary demonstration to the working classes of the sacrifices that property owners were ready to make, the result of which might have been that the fine spirit shown at the beginning of the war might have been maintained until the end, instead of degenerating into a series of demands for higher wages, each one of which, as conceded to one set of workmen, only stimulates another to demand the same.  But even if we grant that it is only theoretically possible to have performed such a feat as is outlined above, there is surely no question that much more might have been done than has been done in the matter of paying for the war by taxation.  If we are reminded once more that our ancestors paid nearly half the cost of the Napoleonic war out of revenue, while we are paying about a fifth of the cost of the present war from the same source, it is easy to see that a much greater effort might have been made in view of the very much greater wealth of the country at the present time.  I was going to have added, in view also of its greater economic enlightenment, but I feel that after the experience of the present war, and its financing by currency debasement, the less about economic enlightenment the better.

What, then, stood in the way of measures of finance which would have obviously had results so much more desirable than those which will face us at the end of the war?  As it is, the nation, with all classes embittered owing to suspicions of profiteering on the part of the employers and of unpatriotic strikes on the part of the workers, will have to face a load of debt, the service of which is already roughly equivalent to our total pre-war revenue; while there seems every

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War-Time Financial Problems from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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