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except Russia. And there is an abnor- system of increasing revenue by addimal discrepancy between the decrease in tional indirect taxation distributes the the French birth-rate and that of other burden unfairly. Taxes on food, railcountries. Dr. Richet said frankly in way tickets, medicines, clothing, cona recent address to the Académie de sumption of fuel and light and water, Médecine:
matches, theater tickets--all these The one and only cause of depopulation in
means of increasing revenue act as a France is economy. We do not want to
means of decreasing potential revenuehave children because that entails spending
The legislators feel that the impulse money. It costs to lodge and feed and clothe
for remedial legislation in the matter of a child, and we do not consent to go to that
depopulation must have behind it more expense. The number of births can be what
than public opinion. Voters are selfish, the State wishes. Decide upon the amount
and parents are not apt to get a square of the aid given to parents, and you will at
deal and to secure special privileges of the same time be sure of the number of
state aid and lighter taxes unless their French births. There now 700,000 births: there will be 2,000,000 when you
electoral influence is greatly increased.
The franchise in France puts the fathers wish. If a child, instead of causing the
of large families in a shockingly disfamily expense, brings money to the family, the number of births will be enormous.
advantageous position. Three fourths
of the French electorate has no particDr. Richet's reason for the decreasing ular interest in the problem of what to birth-rate is accepted by his compatriots. do for the family with three children or This is shown by the nature of the more. And yet the other fourth repre religious appeal put forth in the pastoral sents considerably more than half the letters of the clergy, and the remedies, population of France. That fathers social and legislative, suggested by should have the right to supplementary economists and publicists. Bishops votes for all their living children is a endeavor to show that restricting the proposal taken seriously. A bill to that size of families is false economy and effect was defeated in the Chamber of that children are really a source of Deputies by the narrow margin of 219 wealth to the nation and, eventually, to against 200. The project is before the every person in the body social. The
If the defeat of Germany propaganda organizations for increasing results in being able to cut down the the birth-rate believe that the state standing army, there is no doubt parentmust intervene to make it possible to hood and not age will be the criterion raise children without the financial of exemption from military service. inconveniences-penalties, one might A remarkably large foundation for a say—that now attend the parents of country of few millionaires has been large families. The advocacy of legis- established in France by Théodore lation to stamp out abortion has been Cognacq. The fund, which is managed superseded by bills to give state aid to by the Académie de Médecine, amounts parents by means of premiums, lessening to 50,000,000 francs. The interest is of taxation, and freedom from military given yearly to ninety families of nine service for the father after the birth of children or more. This year 12,000 the third child. The Chamber of families applied for the grant. The Deputies and the Senate are considering Académie Française is also taking part bills to modify the Civil Code in such a in the new movement. A part of its way as to allow parents the right to numerous prix de vertu are now being make a will so that property and busi- awarded to parents who have brought ness may be saved from arbitrary up large families. From the different division and dissolution. The question foundations twenty-one families received of taxation means more in relation to in 1916 prizes of from 1000 to 2000 the problem of natality in France than francs. The average number of chilin other countries. I know this from dren to the family was sixteen, of whom personal experience as the father of four fourteen were living. In 1917 for two children raised in France. The vicious big prizes of 10,000 francs each there
were 400 applications. Thirty of the Frenchmen will be realized. The war families had more than fifteen children. debts, with the appalling annual interest It is a mistake to think that patriar- exceeding the total revenue of France chal life has entirely disappeared from before the war, remain to be met. We France.
are told that France has increased her Have I not said enough to convince revenue from 5,000,000,000 to 12,000,my readers that the problem of depop- 000,000 francs since 1914. But let us ulation is not hopeless of solution and not be deceived by this statement. An that intelligent efforts are being made important part of the increase comes in France to check the decreasing birth- from taxing war profits, and ceases in rate?
1920. The war-profits tax was not In her finances, France is suffering
It was simply a compulsory from a stupid and short-sighted fiscal discount on government orders. policy before and during the war. I When we examine the financial situaam not going to quote figures as I did tion of France with the question in in illustrating the depopulation prob- mind as to how France is to make both lem. The total of France's indebted- ends meet, the answer is that France ness is not a matter of interest; for in cannot hope to pay her obligations, speaking of money, figures have lost all much less her current expenses. Is meaning since 1914. We have to revise bankruptcy the alternative? That deour ideas of the seemingly unlimited pends upon what we mean by bankpossibilities of the extension of credit. ruptcy. It would be bankruptcy if
. No banker or economist dreamed of a France were to default interest payment world war in which the belligerents on the sums borrowed abroad or on what could continue to borrow from one is owed abroad for purchases made duranother and from their own nationals ing the war. We may be sure that this year after year without thought of how will never happen. Some critics are saythe debts were piling up beyond the ing that because France is already seeklimit of interest payment, let alone ing new credits in America for payment beyond the possibility of liquidation. of bills due and for purchases and for
“There is n't so much money in the interest due our Government, we can world!” cried Thiers when Bismarck infer that France is insolvent. The demanded six billion francs as a inference is wrong. These new credits indemnity in 1871. Bismarck prob- are being sought not because of lack of ably thought so, too, for he reduced the
money to meet obligations, but because amount to five billions. And yet to-day of unwillingness to make huge payments we have imposed upon Germany twenty- abroad in dollars when the franc is so five times as much as the 1871 indemnity greatly depreciated.
greatly depreciated. France can now as the minimum she must pay. France, honor and will be able in the future to with scarcely more population than in honor all her foreign debts both as to 1871, is confronted with an annual interest and principal, but she asks budget of from eighteen to twenty-two her more fortunate allies to wait until billion francs per annum.
The dis- exchange returns to normal, and to help crepancy of four billions per annum in her stabilize exchange by refraining the budget estimates of experts shows from compelling her to buy an enormous how far we have traveled from the time number of dollars every month. of Thiers.
In considering the payment of obligaFew Frenchmen are counting upon
tions to her own citizens France does not the German war indemnity to ease the need to take the same attitude. The financial situation of France. If the French people will have to realize Germans pay for the destruction and that they are France and that they the requisitions during the period of cannot be creditors and debtors at the invasion and occupation, we shall be same time. More than ten per cent. of surprised. That bill mounts up beyond the French internal war loans is water; the financial capacity of Germany. If in one of the loans nearly thirty per the huge additional' sum for pensions is cent. The men who managed the exacted, the hopes of the most optimistic treasury of France during the war were
not as confident of the patriotism of the be cut. Judicial fiscal legislation will people as the men who managed the be able to reduce the indebtedness of army. None hesitated to call upon the the Government toward its own citizens French to give their husbands and sons. to a quarter of the present formidable When it came to money-well, that was total without disorganizing industry another matter. High interest and the or causing undue hardship to the citihope of gain by issuing the loans below
zens as a whole. par were the inducements held out to
In great crises of history the Governthrifty investors.
ment should have the same right to call Perhaps during the war
upon capital as it has to call upon man policy was possible. Many who paid power.
For the common weal every the price of blood would have refused Frenchman left his work and his family to pay the price of gold. French char- and spent years in fighting. A million acter is curious and incomprehensible and a half died, and another million was when it comes to money matters. It is incapacitated. There was no distincthe one place where the French lose tion of class in military service; but the their wonderful sense of proportion and sacrifice was far greater for the common where they are incapable of reasoning working-man who had nothing but his things out. But now the French nation hands than for the man who could fight is confronted with the necessity of pay- and die with the comfortable feeling ing for the war. France has not been that he was not leaving his family impoverished by the war. Far from it. penniless. Now that the war is over, Outside of the invaded regions the the portion of the body politic that has country has increased in prosperity money is called upon in turn to make a since 1914. There is more money in sacrifice for the salvation of France. the savings-banks and in other forms of The sacrifice is inevitable. Otherwise investment at home than in 1914. The interest payments will demand more person who looks on the gloomy side of than the annual revenue, and a crash French finances is the one who refuses to will follow more disastrous to the study the actual financial condition of moneyed classes than a judicious levy the French people. There is plenty of on capital. Despite their reluctance to money in France: it has only changed pay out money, the common sense of hands. The Government did not try the French nation is bound to prevail. to pay for the war during the war. The French will not let the financial Instead, the money that ought to have question drift or become a source of come into the French treasury as taxes class antagonism. came in as loans. It is ridiculous to Admiration for France? We have object that the French could not have always had that. Sympathy with stood heavy additional taxation. What France? We have never failed to show they put into the war loans represented that.
that. Confidence in France? By her money, and a good part of it money own deeds France herself instilled that earned in the war and because of the
But during the period of reconwar.
struction we cannot afford to become The financial remedy for France is to indifferent or cool in our attitude toward decrease her internal war debts by France. France has the right to condrastic measures. The loans are widely tinue to look to us for the whole-hearted, distributed and are mostly carried by tangible, practical aid we gave her those who can afford to forego them. during the period of our military interFor if the interest and principal are to vention. We must not be unwilling to be paid, the money must come from do our full share and more than our those who hold the loan certificates. share in international police work. We Some sort of veiled repudiation of the must help with the exchange problem. internal war debt will have to be We must extend further credits. We devised. None can now object if the must favor France in tariff schedules. capital is fixed at the actual sum paid Honor and gratitude and interest alike in by the subscriber. This will be the demand that we should not forget our first step. Then the interest rate will war-cry, "Vive la France!"