Little Bits of History

People’s Budget

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2015
Terrible Twins, George and Chruchill

Terrible Twins, George and Chruchill

April 29, 1910: The People’s Budget passes in England. The new legislation was the first in British history where the purpose of the budget was expressly to redistribute wealth. It was part of the Liberal government of Prime Minister HH Asquith. Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George and President of the Board of Trade Winston Churchill (called the “Terrible Twins” by right-wing contemporaries) supported the budget with unprecedented high taxes on the wealthy and radical social welfare programs. It was the main point of divergence between the Liberal government and the Conservative dominated House of Lords.

The Budget was introduced in the British Parliament by George on April 29, 1909 with the hope that a new means of moving money between strata would eliminate poverty. The income tax for those earning less than £2000 (£180,000 today) remained at 3.75%. Those earning more than £2000 were to pay 5% and a super tax of an additional 2.5% was proposed on incomes over £5000 (£450,000 today) exceeded £3000 (£270,000 today). The super-wealthy would pay 7.5% on the incomes up to £3000 and an extra 2.5% on income over and above that if they earned over £5000. An inheritance tax was also in the bill. The biggest point of contention was a land tax which entailed a 20% tax on increases in the value of the land when property was sold.

The Budget also included tariffs on imports which was seen as a way to bring in more money for the social reforms included in the bill. This part was unpopular because it would have increased the prices on imported food. The Conservative faction would have benefitted in the protection of their products since they were large landowners and their prices of their goods would have been protected. There was much debate from both sides on how to proceed and soon the entire country was divided on what should take place. It was one year to the date when the House of Lords finally accepted the Budget, but only after the land taxes were dropped.

David Lloyd George was the 1st Earl of Dwyfor and was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1908-1915. He was moved from that position to Minster of Munitions, a new office created during World War I. He left that position and moved to Secretary of War and then to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was also the leader of the Liberal Party from 1926 to 1931. During his time at the Exchequer, he helped to lay the foundations of the modern welfare state found in Great Britain today. He was instrumental at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and has been voted as one of the three most important Prime Ministers. It has been said that he made a greater impact on British public life than any other 20th century leader. He died in 1945 at the age of 82.

The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return. – Gore Vidal

Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. – Learned Hand

Tax reform is taking the taxes off things that have been taxed in the past and putting taxes on things that haven’t been taxed before. – Art Buchwald

It is easier to start taxes than to stop them. A tax an inch long can easily become a yard long. That has been the history of the income tax. – B. C. Forbes

Also on this day: What’s the Word? – In 1852, the third most popular book in the world is first published.
Rodney King – In 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles.
Free, Free at Last – In 1945, Dachau was liberated.
Slide – In 1903, a landslide down Turtle Mountain took place.
Oldsmobile – In 2004, the company went out of business.

Yalta Conference

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 4, 2014
Yalta Conference attendees

Yalta Conference attendees

February 4, 1945: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin meet at Yalta. The Yalta Conference is also known as the Crimea Conference and was codenamed the Argonaut Conference. It lasted from February 4 through the 11, 1945. The President of the US, the Prime Minister of the UK, and the premier of the Soviet Union met to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of post-World War II Europe. This was the second of three wartime conferences among the Big Three. The Tehran Conference took place in 1943 and the Potsdam Conference followed in July 1945. At the July meeting, Harry Truman and Clement Attlee met with Stalin.

Roosevelt wanted the meeting to take place near the Mediterranean but Stalin claimed his doctors opposed the long trip. Instead, they met at Yalta to appease Stalin. It should be noted that Roosevelt was dead within a couple months while Stalin lived until 1953. However, at the time, the Soviet Union was pushing the Nazi armies back to Berlin and Stalin felt he had the right to dictate terms. Each of the leaders arrived with an agenda. Roosevelt wanted support in the Pacific theater and hoped to convince Stalin to invade Japan. He also hoped to have the Soviet Union join the United Nations. Churchill was hoping for free elections and democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe. Stalin wanted political influence in the same region.

The Big Three agreed upon seeking an unconditional surrender from Nazi Germany after which Berlin would be split into four zones. Each of the Big Three as well as France would control a zone. Germany would undergo demilitarization as well as a purging of the Nazi regime. Reparations from Germany would in part be in the form of forced labor which would repair some of the damage caused by the war. The borders of Poland were a huge debate. Stalin felt the USSR had earned the right to keep areas they had already conquered but would allow a free and democratic election in the area. The western border would be pushed into German territory to make up for the loss of ground on the east. These elections would never take place.

Citizens of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia would be returned to their respective countries even if they did not wish to return. Stalin agreed to participate in the UN but he also wanted all 16 of the Soviet Socialist Republics to be given entry and only two were permitted. Stalin agreed to enter the Pacific theater 90 days after Germany’s defeat. Nazi war criminals were to be hunted down and brought to justice. The division of Germany into various countries was discussed and many plans were proposed. It would take further negotiations to officially end the war.

True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. – Winston Churchill

Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas. – Joseph Stalin

The United States never lost a war or won a conference. – Will Rogers

Also on this day: 20,000 Leagues – In 1957, the USS Nautilus reaches 60,000 nautical miles, like her namesake.
Winter Sports – In 1932, the Third Winter Olympic Games began.
Codex Sinaiticus – In 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus was discovered.
Victimized – In 1974, Patty Hearst was kidnapped.

Iron Curtain

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 5, 2012

Iron Curtain cartoon

March 5, 1946: Winston Churchill gives a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. He was between terms as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom when he gave the talk titled “Sinews of Peace.” It was the first time the term “iron curtain” was used publicly. Sir Winston had used the phrase twice before in telegrams to US President Truman. Churchill’s dismay at the iron curtain descending across the Continent was not shared by everyone in the West. His speech was condemned as warmongering. Archives available today back up Churchill.

World War II had recently ended and the Soviet Union had been England’s ally along with the US and France. Churchill’s speech was seen as hostile toward the West’s ally against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The Cold War was heating up. During the Russian Civil War of 1918-20. the West had supported the White Russians and the Soviets were not going to forgive or forget. Even as build up towards World War II was taking place, the UK and the US were uneasy to ally themselves with the bolshevism and socialism of Stalin’s Russia.

The Iron Curtain was not only a physical barrier, but a symbolic and ideological one as well. Central Europe disappeared, divided between Eastern and Western Europe. Most of East Europe and much of Central Europe were shut behind guarded walls. Germany was divided with the Berlin Wall as the line of demarcation. The wall and an outer fence separated the Soviet held lands from freedom in the West. The two walls were not entirely parallel and the region was patrolled with K-9 units and armed guards.

The Berlin Wall divided the city, the country, and the opposing sides of the Cold War. It became the symbol for the entire Iron Curtain. The wall was first a checkpoint for people to present passes to authorities. The area was built up over time as many from the East attempted to escape to the West. On August 12, 1961 construction on the Berlin Wall began and the border was closed. The Wall stood for more than 25 years and was finally opened on November 9, 1989. The Iron Curtain and the Cold War finally came to an end in 1991.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow. – Winston Churchill in “Sinews of Peace”

I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. – Winston Churchill in “Sinews of Peace”

Mr. Churchill wanders around the truth when he speaks of the growth of the influence of the Communist parties in Eastern Europe…. The growth of the influence of communism cannot be considered accidental. It is a normal function. – Joseph Stalin in “Stalin’s Reply to Churchill”

The influence of the Communists grew because during the hard years of the mastery of fascism in Europe, Communists showed themselves to be reliable, daring and self-sacrificing fighters against fascist regimes for the liberty of peoples. – Joseph Stalin in “Stalin’s Reply to Churchill”

Also on this day:

The Royal Italian Opera – In 1856, the Royal Italian Opera house burned to the ground.
Stick ‘Em Up – In 1836, Samuel Colt developed a new type of gun.
Boston Massacre – In 1770, five men were killed during a riot in Boston.