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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

n6      THE YEAR'S BALANCE-SHEET

effects upon the elasticity of industry. A tax on
retail purchases has much to be said in its favour,
but against it is the inequity inseparable from the
impossibility of graduating it according to the ability
of the taxpayer to bear the burden; and a general
tariff on imported goods, though it would be wel-
comed by the many Protectionists in our midst, can
hardly be considered as a practical fiscal weapon at
a time when the need for food, raw material, and all
the equipment of industry will make it necessary
to import as rapidly and as cheaply as possible in
order to promote our after-war recovery.

Apart from these purely economic arguments
against the high proportion of the war's costs that
we are meeting by borrowing, there is the much
more important fact of its bad effect on the minds
of our soldiers, and of those members of the civilian
population who draw mistaken inferences from its
effects. From the point of view of our soldiers, who
have to go and fight for their country at a time when
those who are left at home are earning high wages
and making big profits, it is evidently highly unfair
that the war should be financed by a method which
postpones taxation. The civilian population left at
home, earning high profits and high wages, should
clearly pay as much as possible during the war by
immediate taxation, so that the burden of taxation
may be relieved for our soldiers when they return
to civil life. In view of the hardships and dangers
which our soldiers have to face, and the heroism
with which they are facing them, this argument
should be of overwhelming strength in the eyes of