What is the final toll that Battle will take: more important than this, what is the future of the treasure that we have laid on its Consuming Altar?
Before making any analysis of the American stake in the cost of the European War, it is important to find out first just how much money has been expended and what the likelihood of future outlay will be. Like every other phase of the stupendous upheaval this one is both speculative and problematical.
To deal with these European War figures is to flirt with Titanic Numerals. They are more the Playthings of the Gods than matters for mere mortals to juggle with.
Up to the first of January, 1917, the total military expenses of both sides had reached approximately $61,000,000,000. It is only when you reduce this enormous sum to terms that every man and woman can understand that you begin to get some idea of the amazing cost of conflict.
The amount of money expended for direct war purposes alone since August 1, 1914, is equal to three times the par value capitalization of all the American railroads. It represents fifty times the net national debt of the United States: eighteen times the amount of money in actual circulation in this country: and eleven times the total deposits in all our savings banks. With it you could build 146 Panama Canals or pay for the Napoleonic, Crimean, Russo-Japanese, South African and American Civil Wars and still have a surplus of $34,000,000,000 left. Such is the New and High Cost of War!
The price of glory is being constantly advanced. The expenditures for the first year of the war were $17,500,000,000: for the second they had increased to $28,000,000,000: the estimate for the third year, to end August 1, 1917, at the present rate of spending is about $33,000,000,000. This means that by the time the next harvest moon shines (and no man in Europe to-day doubts that it will gleam on carnage), the war will have represented a sacrifice for military purposes alone of $78,500,000,000.
Taking the daily cost of the war you find that England is $25,000,000 poorer for every twenty-four hours that pass: that France must check out $20,000,000: Russia $16,000,000: Italy $5,000,000. Little Roumania is cutting her war expenditure teeth at the rate of $1,000,000 per diem.
Cross the frontier (for war expense is no respecter of cause or creed), and Germany is “discovered,” as they say in play-books, spending $17,500,000 every day: Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria, $11,000,000. Thus between sunrises that break over these warring hosts very nearly $100,000,000 has gone up in smoke, splinters or ruin of some kind, or the upkeep of fighting.