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The financial position — hard Times Ahead!

The pressure caused by the fall of gold and the failure of mercantile houses turns the attention of the Northern public to the actual condition of the country, its debt, resources, currency and taxes, and the future prospect of prices. What the Journal of Commerce thinks on this subject is interesting. There is danger, it thinks; because when the revulsion comes it will find the majority unprepared, and the general suffering thereby greatly increased. With a view of preparing the thoughtful reader for the crisis, and lessening the common damage when it comes, it offers some suggestions relating to the financial future:

  1. 1. A financial crash itself is not the worst possible termination to an inflation. As the danger of breaking a limb is to the probability of a chronic disease, so is a financial crash as compared to the wasting inanition of a gradual collapse.
  2. 2. The loss of real or fancied accumulations is not serious when it does not impair the capacity of labor. The great secret of the marvelous elasticity which the people of this country have shown in recovering from certain depressions of business is to be found in this fact: that the great majority are qualified for some class of labor. In this country, the distinction of classes is less strongly marked, and success dignifies any calling. It is time that the hours of labor in the future are to be lengthened greatly by the pressure of taxation. If the national debt is assumed by this generation, at least two hours per day will be added to every man's toil. But while unoccupied land is abundant, none need suffer for life's necessaries who are disposed to eat their bread in the sweat of their faces. Besides, the tax on labor must, ere long, be lightened by a change in the style of living. This may be done without abridging personal or social comfort. A large part of the expenditure of families, who are raised above the pressure of immediate want, is for mere display. The necessity which limits the gratification of this vanity will not prove an unmitigated evil. The avenues to temptation have been greatly multiplied by the effort to maintain an appearance of grandeur without the affluence with which it is intended to represent. Much of this will, of necessity, be swept away, and the people be taught the comfort of simplicity.
  3. 3. The great object for all to keep before them, in view of the probable future, is freedom from entangled engagements. The crash or collapse must come, but the consequent shrinking of every man's nominal capital is inevitable. One of the greatest mysteries to those who have congratulated themselves on their accumulated fortunes will be, what has become of their supposed wealth.--They have succeeded in the majority of their speculations; they have met with no direct losses; and yet they cannot lay their hands upon the means they thought were so indisputably their own. The shrinking of value after a financial inflation leaves no record of its expunging process, and is certain to disappoint the hopes even of the cautious and prudent. Debts will not shrink with the means of discharging them, and many a man who might save a snug capital from the wreck, if he were not thus fettered, will come out of the trial with nothing about him but the burden of obligation.

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