ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF THE WORLD WAR YEARS
Introduction. In the preceding chapters dealing with the various fields of economic activity in the period since 1860, there have been noted for the sake of continuity in treatment the more important developments in each field during the years of the first World War. These scattered bits, however, give no adequate conception of the broader problems that the country faced in the effort to mobilize its economic resources for carrying on the war. It is the purpose of this chapter, therefore, to try to present the problem as a whole: indicating its size and general character, suggesting the intricate interrelationships among the different fields of economic activity with the extensive coordination necessary to attain the desired results, and explaining the organization and methods actually adopted.
The problem was of such a size as to involve the whole economic order; so, incidentally, the attempt to explain will serve to emphasize many of the outstanding features that have come to characterize that order today. As it was the most comprehensive effort at social planning the country had ever engaged in, the experience throws light upon what is involved in such planning. It will be of interest, too, to compare the methods used in meeting the problems of this war with those employed in our earlier wars to see how much had been learned from past experience and how the changing economic order had altered the character of the problems as contrasted with earlier times. Furthermore, since the "war to end war" failed to accomplish that much desired end, it is vitally important to discover what we have yet to learn in this field.
As has previously been indicated, the outstanding economic problems that face a country in time of war may be classified under three general heads: (1) securing the goods and services necessary for carrying on the war; (2) securing the funds required to pay for these goods and services; (3) providing for the economic needs of the civilian population. Both the size and the complexity of all of these problems have been greatly increased by the methods and conditions under which modern warfare is carried on. Just as in the case of most economic activities, so warfare in modern times may be said to have taken on a mechanical character-- mechanical in the sense that it requires an enormous quantity of material