The Story of Real Money (Entry 370)
Already by 1928 it was clear that Germany was having trouble meeting its reparation payments under the Dawes Plan of 1924.
Much of the massive credit that was awarded the newly formed Reichsbank for the purpose of new investment was lent to the German government for the purpose of rebuilding the public domain destroyed by the war. Such expenditure were too often in the form of money-ad-prodigo — money spent that offered no direct return to the investor, and whose interest and principal could only be paid by an increase in taxes or greater borrowing.
Once again, let us not forget the highly socialist character of the Weimar Republic. Those who created wealth were to provide for those who created none — namely, the German government — who would, in turn, spend it for the expressed purpose of relieving the plight of suffering German citizens on the one hand, and for the unexpressed purpose of maintaining and expanding political power and control so that more wealth produced by others could be taken on the other hand.
To view the matter practically, when a government builds a public park that all can visit and enjoy without thought as to how the government is paying for it, many people are made happy. And, happy people tend to vote for those who make them happy.
The war was a very unhappy time for most, and no matter who accepted blame for having started the war, in the eyes of the German people, the German state was ultimately responsible for having waged and lost it — whether in self-defense or not. In the end, there was much political controversy over the war, and building a highly visible public park for the people was a clear expression of good will on the part of the new government. This made it easier to govern and attract votes. There were many such spending projects of a much larger and sometimes very controversial scale such as military rearmament and, of course, the reparations themselves. After all, the final amount of the reparations was still not agreed, and fewer and smaller reparation payments meant greater disposable income and more public parks.
Reckless government spending was not the only issue, however.
Whereas a park was likely to please most, telling everyone to think like you was likely only to please those who thought like you. Indeed, there was the matter of public school funding. Whereas the SPD, Germany’s largest political party, was was eager to fund schools that offered no religious training, they were reluctant to fund schools that did. For those of a particular faith, religious training was an essential of their child’s education. Such funding disparities had the effect of shrinking the political tent and made it difficult for the socialists to maintain a majority in the German Reichstag (national assembly). Political parties that had been eager to support the socialists in the aftermath of the war began losing interest in the socialist political platform of the SPD.
In liberty, or not at all,
Roddy A. Stegemann, First Hill, Seattle 98104
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