GREAT BRITAIN AFTER THE WAR
raent, draining of new roads, etc. Say, an additional
£5,000,000 a year on improving the National Estate.
Let us reckon not less than £170,000,000 per annum as our
normal future non-military expenditure from the National
Thus our total (National) expenditure for war and peace
can hardly be less than £670,000,000 perenpum.
We are now at last actually raising in taxation during the
war even more than the sum we have estimated as essential
national expenditure during the coming peace ! It is true
(unfortunately) that the Excess Profits Tax may be dropped;
and it is to be hoped that certain other taxes (e.g., those on
the " breakfast table," matches and lamp oil) will be abolished
or reduced. But wre shall be within the mark if we estimate
that if the present taxation (less Excess Profits Tax) were
continued after the war, it would produce nearly £400,000,000
per aiuium, about two-thirds of it raised by direct taxes
(which fall mainly on the rich), and about one-third of it by
indirect taxes (which fall most heavily on the poor).
The problem, therefore, to which the student of finance
must address himself is : How can the nation raise an extra
£200,000,000 or more of taxation eaeh vear in order to defend
itself against enemies abroad as well as from the internal foes
of Discord, Crime, Ignorance, Dirt, Disease, Wretchedness,
Even if we could grant that it is desirable to impose a Protective Tariff, can we get twenty or even ten millions by
such additional Customs duties? How much can be got by
further direct taxation, including revision and improvement of
the existing taxes? Is it possible to get a contribution to the
Exchequer from State Railways, a Nationalised Coal Supply,
Public Life Insurance, State-owned Drink Traffic, a Public
Shipping Service, National Factories, or State Farms?
These are questions for the working-class student to ponder
over with something more intense than academic interest.
The conflicts ahead of us will be fought largely around the
fundamental issue of Finance. Unless the wage-earners can
think out solutions of the financial problems here raised, and
insist on legislative effect being given to their own views, instead of to those oi the propertied classes, they will find themselves (as their forefathers did after 1815) paying the nation's
bills bv the degradation of their own Standard of Life.