Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/744

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cial condition than any of the other great nations of the world, with the exception of Great Britain and Germany. The United States, Great Britain, and Germany are the only governments that within the last twenty years have notably reduced their national debts; all the other nations have notably increased their indebtedness—France, Russia, and Italy taking the greatest relative lead. In every instance the recent increase in the indebtedness of nations is mainly referable to prospective war expenditure, a contingency from which the United States ought to be entirely exempt; for it is as certain as anything in the future can be, that the United States will never enter into war with any foreign country unless unnecessarily provoked. But this is not the opinion of military men, who as a rule rarely look beyond their profession, and of others who desire war with anybody and on any account by reason of prospective personal agrandizement, or increased opportunities for money gain that war would bring to them, conjointly with increased fiscal burdens upon the masses of the people. From March, 1885, the beginning of Mr. Cleveland's first administration, to March, 1889, the public debt was reduced $341,448,449.20, while Mr. Harrison's administration paid off $236,527,660.10. Circumstances, however, for which the second administration of Mr. Cleveland was not responsible, namely, the advocacy of the so-called "silver policy," which impaired national credit, and a Federal Congress which authorized great and unnecessary expenditures, have caused an increase in the bonded or interest-bearing public debt during the three years from 1894 to 1897 of $262,000,000. But this, in view of the resources of the nation, is not a matter for national disquietude; more especially when it is remembered that the uncovered demand (non-redeemable) debt of the nation was at the same time greatly lessened by the accumulation of redeemable instrumentalities in the national Treasury.

Third. Notwithstanding such favoring fiscal conditions, the Federal Government is now and has been for some time past in default of sufficient revenue to defray its current expenditures. For the fiscal year 1890, with an average rate of taxation of $4.74 per capita, its revenues were $105,344,000 in excess of expenditures. In 1895, with an increase in population over 1890 of about 8,000,000 and an average per capita rate of taxation of $6.21, the receipts of national revenue fell short of defraying national expenditures to the extent of $42,805,000.

Fourth. Taxes levied for protection—i. e., for the purpose of reducing imports or narrowing the basis on which customs taxes are levied—can not be rightfully regarded as taxes for revenue. No one will deny that to get revenue from customs we must have imports of dutiable goods. And yet, while admitting this as a