Written: Written on May 17 (30), 1913
Published: Published on May 22, 1913 in Pravda No. 116. Printed from the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 240-241.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The cost of living is rising higher and higher. Associations of capitalists are steadily raising prices, raking in millions and tens of millions, while the mass of the peasantry fall into greater and greater ruin and workers’ families find it ever more difficult to make both ends meet, and have to go hungry and deny themselves the barest necessities.
The organ of our industrial millionaires, Promyshlennost i Torgovlya, gives the following data about the rising cost of living. The so-called price index, which is obtained by combining the prices of a specified number of major foodstuffs, has been rising steadily over the past few years. Here are the figures for April:
Year Price Index 1908 ......... 2,195 1909 ......... 2,197 1910 ......... 2,416 1911 ......... 2,554 1912 ......... 2,693 1913 ......... 2,729
In the last six years, prices have risen from 2,195 to 2,729, i.e., by fully 24 per cent! There is remarkable “progress” in the fleecing of the mass of the working people, and particularly of the workers, by the capitalist combines.
But the capitalists—both in the journal quoted and in their innumerable societies and associations, graciously authorised by the government—continue to complain of the “unfair” taxation of trade and industry!
This would be funny, only the workers are not inclined to laugh.
The poor and unfortunate industrial millionaires publish the following data given in a ministerial document on the taxation of urban real estate.
In 1910, the income from such property was assessed at 239 million rubles (of course, it was assessed bureaucratically, by officials, and one can imagine how many tens of millions were concealed by the oh-so-poor merchant class). In 1912, i.e., only two years later, the income on urban real estate was assessed at 500 million rubles ( counting only Russia, without the Kingdom of Poland).
And so, in two years, the net income on urban real estate rose by more than 250 million rubles! This gives an idea of the stream of gold pouring into the pockets of the capitalists, coming in millions of trickles from incredible want, poverty and hunger among the peasants and workers.
“The high cost of living today” is nothing but the present-day (capitalist) form of impoverishment, ruin and plunder of the working people alongside the unprecedented enrichment of a handful of capitalists.
Pity the poor capitalists who complain of patently “unfair” taxation. Just think: they have to give up 6 per cent of their net income. In 1910, they had to give up (in Russia without Poland) 14 million rubles, and in 1912, 29.8 million rubles.
And so in two years the increase in tax on the robbed millionaires amounted to nearly 16 million rubles.
What do you think, worker comrades: when net income goes up from 240 to 500 millions, i.e., by 260 million rubles in two years, should not a tax of a hundred or two hundred million rubles have been collected? Should they not have taken from the additional profit of 260 million rubles, made on the workers and poor peasants, two hundred millions, at a modest valuation, for schools and hospitals, to aid the hungry and provide for workers’ insurance?
 Promyshlennost i Torgovlya (Industry and Commerce)—an organ of the council of congresses of industrial and commercial representatives. It was a mouthpiece of Big Business and Big Industry and was published in St. Petersburg from January 1908 to December 1917.