Public Demands and Economic Constraints: All Italians Now?
In some terms the debate about democracy and stable public finance is an old one. Tocqueville and Dicey before 1914, Colin Clark, Schumpeter, and the Chicago School of Economics later, developed the theme of inconsistency. Tocqueville was eloquent on how political sentiments would lead to political centralization and growing public expenditure. 1 The practice of democracy could release forces which would waste enormous amounts of resources, retard economic growth, and poison the atmosphere in society. There would also be a new class of subsidy- chasers and rentiers. Jomini wrote of how false values might eclipse public esteem for more legitimate professions in favour of those who 'fatten on the public miseries by gambling on the vicissitudes of the national credit'. 2
There is also little new about vigorous rebuttals affirming the gains to society and the economy from growth in publicly financed programmes. Tawney's lectures on equality supplied one powerful defence of the growth of the social services: 3 but at this stage it was not only the left which supported the growth of social services. The national efficiency school provided strong support. Within the United Kingdom the editors of A Century of Municipal Progress 1835-1935 included the Conservative Sir Ivor Jennings as well as the archetypal socialist professor Harold Laski. 4 'If we compare the state of the English towns in 1835 with their state in 1935, we might well conclude that the creation of our modern system of local government is the greatest British achievement in the last hundred years. . . . Nothing surely that the British people have done in the world in these hundred years is more important than the revolution it has effected in its local government.' Two decades later Galbraith was to stress the contrast between private affluence and public squalor and the complementarity between public