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256          MEETING THE  WAR  BILL

of labour during the war, and by depletion of
materials and stocks, and also, of course, by the fact
that if the war had not happened, we should, if
pre-war calculations were correct, have put some
1700 millions into new investments at home and
abroad during the 4 J years of fighting and some more
hundreds of millions during the after-war period of
Government borrowing and restriction on private
investment. But a very large part of the money
that went into victory would otherwise have gone
not to capital account but into the pleasant frivolities,
embellishments and vulgarities that made life an
amusing absurdity in days before the war.

If, then, the war sacrifice was made during the
war, in so far as its cost was raised at home, how far
is it true that we are now faced with the business of
paying for it ? If taxation were equitable it would
only be to the extent that those who ought to have
made the sacrifice and did not, will in future have
to pay interest to those who did, or their representa-
tives. So that the first thing we have to do is to
make taxation equitable, that is, lay it on the tax-
payer in proportion to his ability to pay. There will
still remain the injustice to those who have fought
for us, which might be cured, or amended, by special
exemptions. With taxation on a really sound basis
no further sacrifice would be involved by the debt
charge, and no diminution of the nation's wealth or
consuming power, which will depend, as always, on
its output of goods and services; but only a transfer
of consuming power from taxpayers to debtholders
in accordance with the sacrifice made by the latter