I would not be surprised if he buys some of it; it would only be logical. Like my hon. friend from Fort William (Mr Manion) why should he not pay $40 more than he needed to pay for something just in order to help industry? Mr. Baldwin may have the same type of mind and buy his wife all kinds of lace, believing that it is better to wear lace these days than nothing at all.
Before I close, I want to discuss for a moment the cut in the income tax. This is one item in the budget that I was strongly inclined to criticize, but our friends to the right have saved me the trouble because they tell me that it is not a reduction, but simply a transference. I was afraid myself that it was a reduction, but I am satisfied if it is only a transference, and I am still more satisfied if it is transferred from those who are less capable to pay to those who are more capable. I believe that there will be some little suffering, as in all adjustments, but I would ask the hon. member for Fort William not to be too gloomy about his hypothetical widow, because, after all, she will not starve anyway; there are a good many widows in the land and there is a multitude of widows whom this will benefit.
There is this thing to be considered, that it is a blessing the income tax was not reduced if it meant that other taxes had to be increased. What would the widows have done then? What would they have done if you had taken the tax from the wealthy people and had put it on the poor people? That is the gentle art of giving more cakes and ale to Dives and less crumbs to Lazarus. I do
The Budget-Mr. Bird
not intend while I am in this House to support any attempt to reduce the income tax so long as our sales tax and our customs duties remain where they are at present. We are yet in the grip of war taxation, and the annoying thing is this, that half of our annual revenue is going every year to pay interest on our war debt. That is the irritating thing, that after our country should have sacrificed, its blood and its substance, it should find itself now these many years after the war still paying by the hundreds of millions interest upon that war debt. That is bad enough, but what would it be if our friends to the right got their way and succeeded in the next few years in foisting that burden on to the backs of the consumers and working people of this country?
I have noticed that during the last few years -I do not think it is the result of conscious action on the part of the government-that the ratio of direct taxation to indirect taxation has gradually swung over. In 1922., 67 per cent of our revenue came from consumers' taxes and only 33 per cent from direct taxation. Last year those figures had come to be SO per cent from consumers' taxes and 20 per cent from direct taxation. I do not think, Mr. Speaker, there is a civilized country in the world where such conditions obtain, where so much of the burden of running our country and of meeting our war debts is put on the shoulders of the people who are least able to bear it. And the ironical thing is that a considerable portion of the burden-bearers includes the returned soldiers. That is the place to work up a little sentiment. Now our hon. friends say: These humanitarian considerations are all right, but you are going to deplete savings, you are going to retard the accumulation of capital. I should like one of my hon. friends to show me how the extracting of a tax from income and paying it over in the interest to the bondholders is going to reduce the capital of this country: It simply means that you are taking money out of one pocket and putting it into the other. So long as we have a national debt of its present size all our revenue from income tax will be handed over immediately by the government to exactly the same people who have paid it, and thus in this transaction a great national obligation will have been fulfilled and at the same time a large measure of distributive justice achieved. I do not think that my reasoning is exactly watertight-