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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

36 WAR FINANCE AS IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

activities of the people. This is so even in peace
time to a certain extent, though the revenue then
collected is so small an item in the total national
income that it counts for much less than in war,
when the power that the Government can wield by
its policy in taxation and borrowing ifiight have
been all-powerful in keeping the nation on the right
lines in the matter of spending and keeping down
the cost of the war, and in maintaining our financial
staying power to a far greater extent than has
actually been done.

It is easy, as they say on the Stock Exchange, to
job1 backwards, and it is also easy, and perhaps
rather unprofitable, to hazard opinions about what
would have happened if things had been otherwise.
Nevertheless, when we look back on the spirit of the
country as it was in those early days of the war,
when the violation of Belgium had sent a chivalrous
thrill through the hearts of all classes in the country,
when we all recognised that we were faced with the
greatest crisis in our history, that our country and
the future of civilisation were about to be tested by
the severest strain ever applied to them, that the
life and fortune of the individual did not count, but
that the war and victory were the only interests
that any one had a right to consider—when one
remembers all these things, and the use that a wise
financial policy .might have made of them, it is
impossible to avoid the conclusion that the history
of the war in this country and its social and political
effects might have been something much finer, much
cleaner and more noble if only the weapons of finance