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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

222               POST-WAR FINANCE

Even Tariff " Reformers" say little about the
revenue that their fiscal schemes would bring in.
And with good reason. For in so far as they secured
Protection they would bring in no revenue; we
cannot at once keep out foreign goods and tax them ;
and any revenue that they brought in would be most
expensively raised, because a large part of the extra
price paid by the consumer would go not to the State
but into the pockets of the home producer. Nor is
it likely that any of the many schemes—of which
Mr Stilwell's " Great Plan, How to Pay for the War/'
is a particularly bold example—for paying off debt
by a huge issue of inconvertible currency, will achieve
any practical result. Not only would they defraud
the debt-holder by paying him off in currency
enormously depreciated by the multiplication of it
that would be involved; but they would also, by
that depreciation, throw the burden of the debt on
the shoulders of the general consumer through a
further disastrous rise in prices, and so would accen-
tuate the bitterness and discontent already rife
owing to the war-time dearness and all the suspicions
of profiteering and exploitation that it has engen-
dered.

After all, this problem of the war debt, in so far
as it is held at home, is not one that ought to terrify
us if we look at it steadily. People talk and write as
if when the war is over the business of paying for it
will begin. That is not really so. The war has been
paid for as it went on, and, except in so far as it has
been financed by borrowing abroad, it has been paid
for by us as a nation. Whatever we have used for