Public Finance

Public Finance

Public Finance

Public Finance

Excerpt

The seven years that have elapsed since the last revision of this book have witnessed great changes in economic and social relationships, and in the field of government. A revision at this time affords opportunity of dealing with the more significant aspects of public finance, as these have been affected by the depression and its consequences. Needless to say, every important part of the field of public finance has been subjected to new stresses during the depression years. Public expenditures have been made for purposes that would not be regarded as prudent or necessary, under ordinary circumstances; new and severe taxation has been applied with little regard to its ultimate effects; a definite change has occurred with respect to the character of the public debt obligation; and the movement toward improved financial administration, which began so auspiciously with the introduction of budgets, has stopped short of the goal.

The continued realization of democratic government involves a difficult dilemma. The essence of democracy lies in popular control of the public purse. In order for this control to be secure it must be intelligently exercised, and in order to have intelligent popular control the people must be informed in some measure concerning that which they seek to guide. On the other hand, the principles and the technique of government finance, and of public administration generally, have become so complicated as to be beyond popular understanding.

Full accomplishment of the democratic purpose is contingent upon closing this gap. It must be done by striving for greater simplicity of governmental organization and procedure, in order to provide a mechanism that can be understood; and by seeking to describe the practice and the principles of public finance in terms that are not beyond the general comprehension. These objectives constitute the aim and purpose of this book. It may therefore be said to be a . . .

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