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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

TAKING  SHORT  VIEWS              61

Commons by several Chancellors of the Exchequer
that it is quite impossible to consider any form of
new taxation because the machinery could not
undertake it. There has also been great short-
sightedness on the part of the business men of the
country, who have failed to give the Government a
lead in this important matter. Like the Govern-
ment, they have taken short views, always hoping
that the war might soon be over, and so have left
the country with a problem that grows steadily
more serious with each half-year as we drift stupidly
along the line of least resistance.

Such war finance as I have outlined—drastic and
impracticable as it seems—would have paid us.
Taxation in war-time, when industry's problem is
simplified by the Government's demand for its
product, hurts much less than in peace, when
industry has not only to turn out the stuff, but also
find a buyer—often a more difficult and expensive
problem. There is a general belief that by paying
for war by loans we hand the business of paying for
it on to posterity. In fact, we can no more make
posterity pay us back our money than we can carry
on war with goods that posterity will produce.
Whatever posterity produces it will consume.
Whatever it pays in interest and amortisation of
our war debt, it will pay to itself. We cannot get
a farthing out of posterity. All we can do, by
leaving it a debt charge, is to affect the distribution
of its wealth among its members. Each loan that
we raise makes us taxpayers collectively poorer now,
to the extent of the capital value of the charge on