Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/157

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.


JUNE, 1888.


THE SURPLUS REVENUE.
By EDWARD ATKINSON.

IS the United States now in receipt of a revenue derived from taxation in excess of a reasonable expenditure for conducting the functions of the Government and meeting the current annual expenses of the nation, the pensions and other like obligations already incurred?

To this question a positive answer may be given. Yes. The surplus revenue of the United States, above the necessary expenses of the Government economically administered, is now at least $100,000,000 a year; and unless Congress at its present session takes some action for the reduction of the revenue, it may exceed ere long $150,000,000 each year.

On the other hand, it may be asked. Would a private corporation consider itself in possession of a surplus revenue from its business, which it would be at liberty to deal with at its own pleasure, if it owed a large sum of money on demand and a still larger sum of money subject to be paid on demand within a .short period of time? No sound business man could be found who would affirm that under such conditions a private corporation could make any more suitable use of the revenue received in excess of its necessary expenditure than to apply it to the payment of its debt due on demand, and to prepare the way for making payment of the debt soon to become due at a date fixed.

If this reasoning be applied to the present condition of the United States, it will appear that the Government is not at the present time in the possession of a surplus revenue in any true sense. It owes on demand that sum of money which is represented by the evidences of debt, known as legal-tender notes, and commonly called greenbacks.