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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 5, No. 3 (Fall 1938)

The Revenue Act of 1938 was drafted mainly with the intention of helping business to recover from the depression without impairing the revenue to be derived by the government. This study is designed to examine the arguments which contend that the act will help to restore recovery, especially to 'facilitate the flow of capital into new enterprises, release frozen capital.' The present analysis will be confined to two provisions: the revision of the treatment of capital gains and losses, and the taxation of corporate profits. It will not be primarily concerned with the probable fiscal productivity of the new tax provisions, or with their equity and long-run economic consequences. It is not intended to pass judgment on whether this tax revision, aside from its recovery implications, is good or bad.

Most people regard success as the highest form of justification. For them, strength of armament and strength of argument become almost identical. Therefore the general claims of Germany are accepted without dispute, though there is resistance against this or that particular demand. For Germany then it is most important to find the line of least resistance. As long as there is any choice among the objects of an aggressive policy, it would be wiser to follow that line than needlessly to antagonize organized forces of defense. Another historical result of the German coup in Austria may be that the German leaders have discovered how definite is that line and how weak that resistance.

It is strange to see that since the Hitler coup in Austria public opinion has changed so considerably that even some competent experts describe the dramatic events of last March as nothing but the violent act of the Führer against gallant little Austria. This attitude can be explained by two factors. One is the legitimate indignation of all decent people at the brutalities of the Nazis. The other is the psychological law according to which we exalt the bright side of a condition lost forever. Lamenting the fate of Austria, most people think not so much of the state which has now succumbed, with its impoverished population, its continual financial disasters and scandals, and its long series of social upheavals, as they do the splendors of the former Hapsburg monarchy.

In the process of production, not only are commodities manufactured, but at the same time incomes are created which are destined to purchase the produced goods. Equilibrium between the incomes and the product is brought about by the movement of prices: the price level is bound to settle in equilibrium at a point where the total quantity of goods can be bought by the aggregate money income. There may occur certain time lags as a result of the process of saving. It is particularly possible that in a given period more goods will be consumed than have been produced; this is what happens in the case of capital consumption. On the other hand, of course, production may be in excess of consumption, in which case there will be an increase in commodity stocks. Notwithstanding these conceivable deviations, the principle holds that a balance can invariably be brought about between the purchasing power of the total money incomes and the price sum of the social product; the disproportions occur only if certain cyclical factors (which I shall not discuss in detail) prevent the adjusting price movements.

It has long been realized that in art not everything is possible at any given time and that a style can assume its specific form only because of a given historical situation. It would seem self-evident that this should imply that a style is dependent also on the existence of a given social situation and that art and society stand in a continuous interrelation. But strangely enough, this problem has only lately been taken up, in spite of its decisive importance. In the early nineteenth century it was considered by Balzac and Taine; but under the influence of the romantic and later the materialistic trends, which according to art was a problem of either mere genius or mere technique, it was pushed aside and has been revived only recently, usually in the rather emotional way of Spengler or in the rather simplified way of Sorokin. Herbert Read, in a book based on a series of lectures which he delivered at Liverpool University in 1935-36, has made a substantial contribution to the discussion of this subject.

Review of book by Mortimer Adler. A study in practical philosophy. New York: Longmans, Green. 1937. 686 pp.

Review of book S. E. Frost. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1937.

Review of book by Stuart Chase. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 1938. 396 pp.

Review of book by George Wilson Pierson. New York: Oxford University Press. 1938. 852 pp.

Review of book by Marcel Weinreich. Paris: Librarie J. Vrin. 1938. 212 pp.

Review of book by Fanfani Amintore. Publication of the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Series 3, Scienze Sociali, vol. 16. Milan: Societa Editrice Vita e Pensioro. 1936. 302 pp.

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