War-Time Financial Problems eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about War-Time Financial Problems.
involve an enormously costly and tedious process of valuation, its yield would be problematical, and it might easily deal a blow at the incentive to save on which the supply of capital after the war entirely depends.  A much higher rate of income tax, especially on large incomes, is another solution of the problem, and it also might obviously have most unfortunate effects upon the elasticity of industry.  A tax on retail purchases has much to be said in its favour, but against it is the inequity inseparable from the impossibility of graduating it according to the ability of the taxpayer to bear the burden; and a general tariff on imported goods, though it would be welcomed by the many Protectionists in our midst, can hardly be considered as a practical fiscal weapon at a time when the need for food, raw material, and all the equipment of industry will make it necessary to import as rapidly and as cheaply as possible in order to promote our after-war recovery.

Apart from these purely economic arguments against the high proportion of the war’s costs that we are meeting by borrowing, there is the much more important fact of its bad effect on the minds of our soldiers, and of those members of the civilian population who draw mistaken inferences from its effects.  From the point of view of our soldiers, who have to go and fight for their country at a time when those who are left at home are earning high wages and making big profits, it is evidently highly unfair that the war should be financed by a method which postpones taxation.  The civilian population left at home, earning high profits and high wages, should clearly pay as much as possible during the war by immediate taxation, so that the burden of taxation may be relieved for our soldiers when they return to civil life.  In view of the hardships and dangers which our soldiers have to face, and the heroism with which they are facing them, this argument should be of overwhelming strength in the eyes of every citizen who has imagination enough to conceive what our fighting men are doing for us and how supreme is our duty to do everything to relieve them from any other burden except those which the war compels them to face.  There is also the fact that many members of our uninstructed industrial population believe that the richer classes are growing richer owing to the war, and battening on the proceeds of the loans.  I do not think that this is true; on the contrary, I believe that the war has brought a considerable shifting of buying power from the well-to-do classes to the manual workers.  Nevertheless, in these times misconceptions are awkwardly active for evil.  The well-to-do classes as a whole are not really benefited by having their future incomes pledged in order to meet the future debt charge, and if, at the same time, they are believed to be acquiring the right to wealth, which wealth they will have themselves to provide, the fatuity of the borrowing policy becomes more manifest.  For these reasons

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