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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

248         MEETING THE WAR BILL

and Navy during the armistice period, the cost of
demobilisation, and the cost of putting an end to
war munitions contracts running for many months
ahead, holders of which will have to be compensated.
Who has enough assurance to venture on an estimate
of the cost of these items ? Shall we guess them at
something between -1000 and ^1500 millions ? And
when we have made this guess are we at the end of
the war's cost ? Ought we not to include pensions
to be paid, and if so, at what figure ? Fifty millions
a year for thirty years ? If so, there is another
1500 millions. And interest on war debt, and for
how long ?

On the other side of the balance-sheet, the only
asset that has not yet been included in the calculation
is the sum that we are going to receive from Germany,
Some cheery optimists think that it is possible for us
and for the Allies to make Germany pay the whole
of our war cost. If so, we have halcyon days ahead,
for not only shall we be able to repay the whole war
debt but also to pay back to the taxpayer all the
^1350 millions that he produced during the war,
unless, as seems more likely, the Government finds
other uses, or abuses, for the money, and sets its
motley horde of wasters to work again. But this
problem, of course, is not going to arise. It would
not be physically possible for Germany to pay the
whole of the Allies' war cost, except in the course of
many generations, and, moreover, the Allies have
bound themselves not to make any such demand
by the rider that they added to President Wilson's
peace terms, in giving their assent to them as the