this class of people to be highly estimable, and from
a minister’s point of view exceedingly desirable,
because they combine wealth with that degree of diffidence
which keeps them from all tainted or dangerous enterprises.
The man who pays a large tax and loves peace is from
the ministerial point of view the most agreeable of
citizens. He must, of course, not try to escape
the burdens which his easily collected income should
bear in comparison with others. And you will
see that he really does not do it. He is an honest
man, and when we shall at last have outgrown the finance-ministerial
mistrust of olden times—which my present
colleagues no longer share—we shall see
that not everybody is willing to lie for his own financial
benefit, and that even the man who cuts coupons will
declare his wealth honestly, and pay his taxes accordingly.
The Honorable Mr. Bamberger also asked: “Where
will you find the necessary money?” This law
really implies few new expenses, as I have already
said, because all the government asks is to be permitted
to substitute the State for the communities, which
at present are taking care of the poor, and to make
a very modest allowance to those who cannot earn their
living. This allowance should be entirely at
the disposal of the recipient and be inalienable from
him. It will thus secure for him independence
even when he is an invalid. The increase over
the present cost of caring for the poor is slight.
I do not know whether it should be estimated at half
of one-third—one sixth—or even
I am, therefore, of the opinion that a State which
is at war with the infernal elements recently described
to you here in detail, and which possesses among its
citizens an overwhelming majority of sincere adherents
of the Christian religion, should do for the poor,
the weak, and the old much more than this bill demands—as
much as I hope to be able to ask of you next year.
And such a State, especially when it wishes to demonstrate
its practical Christianity, should not refuse our
demands, for its own sake and for the sake of the poor!
* * * *
February 6, 1888
TRANSLATED BY EDMUND VON MACH, PH.D.
[In view of the constantly increasing armaments in
France, the government had secured from the Reichstag
of 1887 an increase also of the German army.
Danger, however, was threatening from Russia as well
as from France, and it became necessary to arrange
matters in a way which would place the full strength
of the German people at the disposal of the government.
A bill to this effect was introduced in the Reichstag
on December 9, 1887, and another bill, which was to
procure the money for this increase in armaments, was
introduced on January 31, 1888. Both bills were
on the calendar of February 6. Prince Bismarck
opened the discussion with the following speech, the
effect of which was electric, and resulted in the Reichstag
passing both bills by a unanimous vote.]