GENERAL ARTICLES

How Your Dollar Fights

Here, reduced to simple terms, Is the story of how your dollar goes to battle In modern mechanized warfare

BRUCE HUTCHISON May 1 1941
GENERAL ARTICLES

How Your Dollar Fights

Here, reduced to simple terms, Is the story of how your dollar goes to battle In modern mechanized warfare

BRUCE HUTCHISON May 1 1941

How Your Dollar Fights

GENERAL ARTICLES

Here, reduced to simple terms, Is the story of how your dollar goes to battle In modern mechanized warfare

BRUCE HUTCHISON

MR. ILSLEY was worried as he faced the House of Commons that day. When Mr. Ilsley is worried-his reddish hair sprawled damply over his forehead, his jaw set, his brows knit-

he looks rather like a young professor lecturing a specially dumb freshman class in economics. And the class listened intently, with wide-open eyes.

When Professor Ilsley had finished his little lecture and revealed for the first time what the war is costing Canada, Mr. Hanson heaved himself to his feet, rather weakly. Mr. Hanson was worried, too, and amazed almost beyond speech. Substantial and round and bald is Mr. Hanson, and as he stood there waving his hands, he made you think of Mr. Pickwick at that first meeting of the Pickwick Club, when Mr. Blotton ventured to question the theory of tittlebats on the Hampstead Ponds.

No wonder the professor looked v'orried. No wonder the pupil waved his hands in astonishment. No wonder the whole class was suddenly hushed. They had just learned, all of them, that the cost of the war had readied more than forty per cent of our income as a nation and was going up every day, with no final limit set to it.

Not that Mr. Hanson or anyone else objected to the total cost, but everyone wanted to know where the money was going; why this war costs so much more than any previous war; why forty-four cents of every dollar that you. the average Canadian citizen, earn this year, will be used to produce war goods that you can neither eat, wear nor use in any way.

The answer to that question can be given in many forms, most of them bewildering to the layman, and with these higher economics of the war Parliament will be struggling until the war is over. But the simple, understandable, layman’s answer starts with the ordinary Canadian soldier.

Four Cents Per Cartridge

TDEFORE he goes on parade the infantry soldier’s equipment has cost the taxpayers $114.82, made up of such items as $41.50 for his rifle and bayonet, $7.32 for his gas mask, $12.85 for his battle dress, $4.80 for his boots, $2.30 for his underwear. It doesn’t seem much, but multiply that by the 170.000 soldiers on active service and you get a tidy sum. But it is only a beginning.

After equipping the soldier we must be prepared to maintain him, and he cannot live cheaply once he gets into action in a war like this. So long as he remains in Canada he can be supported at present for $5.46 a day—which more than uses up one War Savings Certificate—but this figure may decline to something like $5 per day as largescale operations reduce the unit cost.

The cost of maintaining the soldier overseas at present is reckoned at $7.11 a day, including all supplies of every sort. The householder who must maintain a wife and several children on much less will understand at once why war is expensive, and why the living standard of the nation at large must be reduced, if the living standard and the fighting standard of our armies is to be unimpaired. It is a little comforting to know that the U.S. soldier, in peacetime, costs $12.32 per day.

In the last war these costs were much lower. While he remained in Canada, the soldier of the last war cost $3.53 per day to maintain and when he went to France and started using up ammunition and other supplies, he cost $6.58. When the Canadian army gets into battle this time no one can be sure what the upkeep will run to, but obviously it will be far above the figures of 1914-18 before the war became mechanized, before the present costly machines were used.

The soldier has hardly started to use up ammunition yet. but every cartridge he fires from a rifle costs four cents, which, as children who buy War Savings Stamps will be quick to calculate, is almost the price of an ice cream cone.

A small boy who goes without five cones to buy one stamp can figure that he is providing about six cartridges for our troops.

The boy must give up $4 worth of cones to pay for one burst of a hundred rounds from the guns of a Spitfire, and that would be enough cones for an average summer. “War,” as General Sherman remarked, “is hell.”

It is the weapons of course, not the men, that have made this the most expensive of all wars. Unit for unit, machine for machine, bullet for bullet, this war makes any previous war look like a wave of economy.

Armored Division: $160,000,000

'“TAKE THE most deadly weapon of all, the airplane. In the last war, when the airmen trundled through the skies on winged wheelbarrows, a fighting plane cost about $8,000. Today, if you and your friends are thinking of giving the Air Force a Spitfire, you must raise $25,000, or if you want to make it a Hurricane, the figure will be $50,000. Every time we lose a first-line fighter plane you can figure that we have lost as much as an average working man is likely to earn in forty years, not including the still more valuable life of a trained pilot.

Bombers come much higher. A Bolingbroke, such as Canada is building now, will cost from $125,000 to $150,000

If you saved your maximum in War Savings Certificates, at the rate of $480 a year, you would be just over three centuries paying for the loss of one such bomber. You begin to see why all of us must do some powerful saving if we are going to have an air force.

There are still more expensive items. When Canada attempts shortly to create the ultimate in mechanization, the organization of an armored division, the cost becomes almost fantastic, as the ordinary man reckons money. To equip this single division, taxpayers must provide at least $160.(XX),000 and possibly closer to $200,000,000. before the division is ready to go into battle, and this will be true whether we build all the machinery in Canada or buy part of it in Britain. That cost is about a third of the amount of money that our entire Canadian Government used to spend annually on all accounts before the war started.

In the last war, of course, an armored division was unknown, the tank was in its infancy and armies travelled by foot, on the cheap. Now, for our new armored division, we must find here, in Britain or in the U.S. more than a thousand tanks, half of them for front line use, half of them in reserve. No one knows precisely what they will cost, because we have had no experience in building them in Canada, but probably the big ones may run from $70,000 to $80,000 each. Add to them the other vehicles required, and an armored division is likely to stretch over something like fifty miles of road.

As it travels it will represent an investment equal to the cost of about ten Ottawa Parliament Buildings or about half the Canadian Government’s total investment in

harbors and docks since before Confederation. ($343,000,000). To raise the money to equip the division, about

350.000 Canadians must save 840 a month for a year.

No one knows how long it takes to make a tank in Canada, but to earn the amount which an armored division is expected to cost, a thousand workmen would have to work steadily, at average pay, for a century and a half. That explains, in a crude way, why so much of our labor, our energy, and our living standard must be sacrificed to carry the kind of war program that Mr. Ilsley laid before Parliament with the worried look of the man who must find the money.

Even the ordinary infantry division has changed out of all recognition since the last war. It travels on wheels, with thirty-seven different types of vehicles, 3.525 vehicles altogether. In the last war a division required only 4.000 mechanical horsepower to move it about. Now it needs

214.000 horsepower. Many a substantial city uses less horsepower than that in lighting its homes at night.

Among other things, the modern division uses universal guncarriers costing $5,000 apiece, which equals the annual income of five ordinary workingmen in the kind of times we have been living through. The machine guns mounted on these carriers cost $450 and, according to official figures recently quoted in Parliament, that is $50 more than the average Canadian farmer’s annual cash income. The ordinary army truck used by the infantry division costs $1,500, which is more than many readers of this magazine are likely to make in a year.

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Along with the infantry army corps now goes a tank brigade, a unit separate entirely from the armored division which operates by itself. Canada is going to add a tank brigade to its present army corps in Britain and this will cost about $60.000.000, which is three quarters of the amount that we shall use this year to subsidize our prostrate wheat industry. In the last war a tank brigade with an infantry division had never been thought of. Now, to make this one item alone, something like ten million man days of work will be required.

When these mechanized units get into action they really begin to burn up money. This will give you some idea: Every time a five-hundred-pound bomb is dropped on Germany, we have spent from $80 to $200 for the bomb alone, depending on the type used. Twenty to fifty War Savings Certificates must be bought somewhere in Canada to pay foi that single explosion. Somewhere in the complicated economic cycle of the nation a good hundred hours of work have been used to make the bomb—-or more, if it is a big one—and all this time is used up in perhaps a second when the bomb goes off.

Barrages Cost Money

'"THE BIG GUNS that Canada is building now know nothing of economy. An anti-aircraft gun, like those under construction here, will cost about $12,500 and it will hurl 120 shells per minute. Each round of ammunition costs about $6. An evening’s work by a single gun can easily use up more War Savings Certificates than you could buy in five years. In an hour’s firing such a gun would spend more than $40,000, or an average Canadian farmer’s income for a hundred years.

This is a modest anti-aircraft gun of forty millimetres. The 3.7-inch, quickfiring gun, which can search out a bomber five miles in the sky, uses shells worth $20 each—four War Saving Certificates at every pop. In one night this single piece of artillery can spend more than you are likely to earn before you die.

Added up, and compared with anything we have ever experienced in the last war, the costs of the present war are almost incredible, but we are getting weapons that we never had before. A single fact will indicate the difference: Two divisions in the last war would control 8,000 horsepower of mechanical energy, whereas our two divisions now in Britain with their allied services have about 600,000 horsepower, or a twelfth as much power as is produced by all the generators in Canada including those of Niagara. The great Queenston power plant (525,000 horsepower) does not develop as much power as our two-division corps has at its command all the time.

Those are some of the costs on land. On the sea the money goes fast, too. One corvette, that neat little craft which Canada is building with remarkable success, costs $550,000, and a mine sweeper $575,000. If we start to build destroyers each of them will set us back about $4,000.000. A cargo vessel, such as we are starting to build lor Britain and may build also for ourselves, costs $1,750,000, which represents about a quarter-of-amillion man days of work.

The more of these ships we build, of course, the more the cost of maintenance will be. We are heading now into a permanently large bill for naval services, for this country is not likely to return to a position of helplessness on the ocean again. Armies will be demobilized, war factories closed up, but the navy will go on. When you realize that a destroyer, a relatively small craft, costs $400.000 a year to operate, you see that the modern machines of war, on the sea, cannot be maintained

without sacrifice by the citizen on shore.

Mr. Ilsley, the man who must find the money for all these things, recently gave Parliament a summary of his problem. He wants $666,574,000 for the Army this year, $169.640,000 for the Navy, $386,619,000 for the Air Force and $180.458.000 for munitions, and there are other war costs distributed among the government departments, which will bring the total to about $1,500,000,000, not counting direct financial aid to Britain. Whether Canada is dividing its money in the most advantageous way as between land, sea and air, is a question which experts will continue to debate, but to the layman one fact emerges quite clearly out of these figures: In this mechanized war we are spending more in a single year than we spent in four years of the last war.

The last war was so little mechanized that we had no substantial force of airplanes or warships. Our main effort was concentrated in the infantry with an army of half a million. We maintained this army, much larger than the active service forces of the present war, at a fraction of the present cost.

In the last war, to the spring of 1918, we had spent only $877,271.000, not much more than half the cost of a single year in this war of machinery. If you add in the fiscal year of 1918-1919, which includes heavy demobilization costs, we spent only $1,323,790,000. The main fact is worth repeating—on the whole of the last war our military services, though they included far more men, cost us less than one year of this war with its enormous expansion in machines.

All these current war costs are apart altogether from the war goods that Canada will ship to Britain this year— about a billion and a half dollars worth, for which Canada will receive in cash only about $350,000,000. This means that in addition to meeting our own costs, we will have to find something more than another $ 1,000.000,(XX) in aid to Britain. If you are interested in higher mathematics and disagreeable facts, you am calculate that including our aid to Britain, our own war program and the cost of our various governments, provincial and municipal as well as federal, we shall spend sixty cents out of every dollar we earn this year on the state. That, however, is another story.

War’s Working Time

TT WOULD be interesting if one could -*■ estimate the man hours of labor that go into all these tools of war. That is not yet possible because Canada is only beginning to learn how to make most of them and, as it masters these complicated processes, should be able to produce more cheaply, with a smaller expenditure of time and labor.

This will give you an idea of the labor involved in some of the larger weapons: A Bolingbroke bomber, now being built in Canada, requires 60,(XX) man hours or twice the time required for a similar plane in the United States, where they have larger experience. The Canadian plane thus requires about 7,500 working days— a hundred workmen laboring for seventyfive days on a single plane, without its engines.

Taking the whole war program of Canada on the same basis of cost in actual labor, you reach astronomical figures. In the present year we shall have to devote something around 4,000,000,000 working hours to the war in Canada. This is another way of saying that the war will occupy well over a third of our time.

When you go to bed at night you can reckon, if you are a perfectly average Canadian, that you have labored about three hours and thirty-one minutes for the

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war. The average Britisher spends four hours and forty-five minutes in war work, and the average German probably more. The American spends only thirty minutes, but will spend about an hour, starting at midsummer when the defense program gets into its stride.

You may go to bed unaware that you have done any war work that day, but invisibly you will have contributed. The Government will find ways of taking your labor whether you know it or not. It will tax you—visibly and invisibly—and ask you to loan your money to pay those who stand in the line, on the deck or at the lathe. No one who pays taxes can escape. All of us are working in the war. And the way Professor Ilsley keeps raising his figures of cost before his economics class indicates that your three hours and thirty-one minutes is almost certain to he increased.