Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/429

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415
LITERARY NOTICES.

sian doctrine is flouted in some quarters, and particularly in the region of the Anti-Poverty Society, the sober thought of the more instructed portion of mankind will incline them to believe that there is something to be said on behalf of prudence in incurring what is simply the most solemn and important responsibility than can be assumed by any human being. That poverty has been greatly promoted by carelessness and indifference in this regard—a blind trusting to chance or Providence—few, we think, would deny.

But perhaps the most important single aspect of the whole question is the sanitary or hygienic. As long as there are debilitated frames, enfeebled wills, and morbidly developed passions, there will be poverty. On the other hand, of course, poverty tends to increase and perpetuate these evils. This aspect of the subject has lately been treated with much force in the body of the "Monthly," and we shall not dwell upon it to-day. The main truth we wish to emphasize is that poverty results from unfitness for social conditions, and that the true mode of conducting an anti-poverty campaign would be to attack at every point those errors and vices that tend to depress human beings below the level at which they can fulfill the conditions needful for their maintenance in health and well-being.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Public Debts: An Essay in the Science of Finance. By Henry C. Adams, Ph. D. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 407. Price, $2.50.

The purpose of this treatise is to portray the principles which underlie the use of public credit. While it is neither primarily statistical nor historical, it relies upon statistics, and makes frequent appeals to history; and in these points, the experiences of our national Government, so comprehensive and recent, and of our State and local governments, so various and often so impressive, afford a rich fund whence illustration and the "clinchers" of argument are drawn. The peculiarity of our Federal Constitution necessitates a distinction in the treatment of the subject as between national deficit financiering and local deficit financiering (State and municipal) which is not recognized by European writers. Of the three parts into which the treatise is divided, the first is devoted to the general subject of "Public Borrowing as a Financial Policy." The immense development of public indebtedness which the world is now witnessing, which has reached an aggregate for the civilized states of $27,000,000,000, has taken place since 1848, when the total stood at $8,650,000,000. Searching for the causes of this accumulation, they are found to lie mainly in the greater strength and effectiveness of the feeling of nationality, for the maintenance of which large expenditures are necessary, and in the spirit of socialism, or the disposition of states to legislate and undertake in the interest of the social well-being of their peoples. Concerning the political and social tendencies and industrial effects of public borrowing, it is held that it tends to obviate the free workings of constitutional governments, to endanger the autonomy of inferior states, and to introduce complications between the larger powers. Socially, public debts render permanent such class relations as spring from disparity of possessions, and introduce conflicting interests between citizens. The industrial effects are complex, and depend upon the nature of the loan, the conditions under which it is contracted, and upon the fund of capital from which it is filled. They are harmful in proportion as the placement of the loan disturbs the market value of commodities. Public credit may be advantageously employed—as opposed to material increase of taxes—to cover running deficits, to assist in meeting unforeseen emergencies, and to provide revenue for carrying on public improvements. In the second part—"National Deficit Financiering"—the first topic is the "financial management of a war," the principle of which, as summarized, is "that reliance can not be placed wholly upon loans nor wholly upon taxes, but fiscal administration should be so adjusted as gradually to change the burden of expenditure from credit to clear income." As between the differ-