The tendency is towards a rapid accumulation of huge fortunes. In considering the incidence of taxation Bacon’s advice might well be remembered: “Above all things, good policy is to be used that the treasure and moneys in a State be not gathered into few hands, for otherwise the State may have great stock and yet starve, for money is like muck, not good except it be spread.”
But where is the money to come from? Yes, that is to be asked. Let us as quite the first business in this our national crisis look not only into our affairs but into our accounts and obtain some notion of how we annually spend our money, and what we are getting for it. Not the public revenue only; of that some account is rendered already. But let us do the best we can to set down the items of the national private expenditure and know what we spend altogether and how.—JOHN RUSKIN.
The revenue and expenditure of the State have already been discussed; over that the State has a direct control. Over the expenditure of the nation the control of the State is only indirect. Though the two questions should be kept distinct, one affects the other. Both are vitally important and now more serious than ever in view of the huge debt and other conditions which will exist after the War. How are we to provide and pay for the commodities we need for the support of the nation? Before the War the balance required to pay for the excess of imports over exports was apparently provided, first, by interest on investments in other countries—Englishmen having provided capital all over the world—and, second, by freights. A large amount of these foreign investments has been sold. How far shall we still be a creditor country after the War? As regards freights, British shipping has suffered very heavy losses. One of the first duties both during and after the War must be to repair the losses and increase British tonnage available for trade. To this end no effort should be spared, and the State should do all that is possible to foster shipbuilding, or even undertake the work itself, if possible without interfering, as unfortunately it has already done, with the output of private shipbuilding yards.
As regards national as well as State expenditure, it will be essential, first, to increase the income, and second, to guard against every form of waste. To increase the income the only way is to increase production both from the land and the factory (a) of things needed for use at home, (b) of things which can be sold abroad, i.e., exported in exchange for the supplies that must be imported. In both cases it is necessary to consider not merely the increase in the amount produced or the volume of trade, but how far are the articles produced for home use or imported from abroad of real value in promoting the