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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

172    STATE MONOPOLY  IN BANKING

only brings absolute monopoly more closely in sight,
but increases the ease with which agreements among
the huge banks might suffice to produce the effects
of monopoly without further amalgamations. Mr
Webb goes on to argue that it is impossible to stop
by legislative prohibition or restriction the progress
towards economic monopoly where such progress is
financially advantageous to those concerned, and
that the only remedy ultimately by which the com-
munity can be protected from the dangers which
he sees threatening it is for the community to take
the monopoly into its own hands, and so to get rid,
not of the monopoly, which, from the standpoint of
national organisation, he thinks is advantageous,
but of the motives leading to extortion. If, he says,
" no shareholders are in control with their perpetual
and insatiable desire for profit, there is no induce-
ment to take advantage of the needs or helplessness
of the customers by restricting service or raising
prices/' In this sentence, of course, he begs the
whole question between the advantage of private
enterprise and of Socialistic organisation. Private
enterprise works for profit, and therefore makes as
much profit as it can out of its customers. It is,
therefore, according to Mr Webb's argument,
probable that if private enterprise in banking is able
to establish monopoly it will squeeze the public to
the point of restricting banking facilities and making
them dearer. No one can deny that there is some
truth in this contention, but, on the other hand, it
may very fairly be argued that modern business has
perceived the great advantages of a big turn-over and