THE time seems ripe for arriving at some kind of conclusion regarding the public finances of the European country which has remained under the rule of a dictatorial régime for a longer period of time than any other except Russia.
A mystery which has been puzzling many minds during recent years is the coexistence in Italian finance of an allegedly balanced budget with an elaborate program of public works. Public works, of course, have always been the preferred field of action of all dictatorships, and Italy is no exception to the rule. What Mussolini has taken away from the people in the realm of political and intellectual freedom, he has endeavored to make up for in the sphere of material benefits. He has tried not so much to raise the common man to a higher level of civilized life as to dazzle him with spectacular Fascist achievements. Gigantic public buildings have sprung up all over the country, land reclamation on a grand scale has been undertaken in the vicinity of Rome, and the Eternal City herself has been turned upside-down in order that she may shine again in the beauty that was hers two thousand years ago. Magnificent roads span the peninsula from end to end, huge ships cleave the waves for the enhancement of Italy's maritime fame, and a thousand and one other signs give proof everywhere that strictly financial considerations have not been uppermost in the dictator's mind during the last decade. Yet, until the world depression put Italy's budget also out of gear, a balanced budget existed alongside of all these material improvements and served as one of the Fascist Government's proudest claims to the gratitude of the Italian people and to the admiration of the rest of the world.
How was Mussolini able to balance the budget and at the same time reveal to an astonished world such an imposing array of material accomplishments? In democratic countries voices are heard clamoring for a more efficient public
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