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George Stern

On the War Fronts

(15 March 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 11, 15 March 1941, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A U.S. Department of Commerce official has estimated that Germany's war expenditures are now being made at the rate of 72 per cent of the entire German national income, or about 72 billion marks a year. The figure is based upon sketchy German reports supplemented by some shrewd guess work.

The same official report points out that this year the United States expects to spend $17,500,0000,000 for all purposes, including the arms drive. If the U.S. were spending at the same rate as the German, it would be spending $57,600.000,000 per year.

The implication here is plain enough. The Department of Commerce issues this report precisely for the purpose of advising business men of the necessary and inevitable trend.

What the report does not go into is the meaning of these figures for the people generally. The rate of expenditure for armaments naturally far exceeds the rate of increase of the national income.

To say that Nazi Germany is spending 72 per cent of its national income for the war is another way of saying that the German people are being beaten down to an ever declining level of living standards.

We already have heard from various of our "leaders" that the American people are going to have to do without a lot of things because of the war drive. In reality an important proportion of the American people are already doing without a lot of things they need. In the times that are coming they will have to do with still less.

This is what is happening every time the OPM announces new "priorities" in vital lines for the arms program.

Finally there is the question of inflation as an inevitable corollary of the arms program. The Department of Commerce report took pains to show not only that in the war period German national indebtedness increased but that this rise was accentuated by an inflationary increase in currency circulation during the same period.

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