That a greater interest is being taken in the expenditures and revenues of the various political units is evidenced by the increased study of these problems which is being carried on, both by those directly connected with the formation and administration of tax laws, and by those who act in no official capacity. It is a hopeful sign that a systematic study of fiscal problems is rapidly finding a place in the curriculums of our colleges and universities. The old idea that an education consists almost entirely in gaining a knowledge of the so-called "cultural" subjects is passing, and the notion is gaining prevalence that higher educational institutions should impart more knowledge having immediate application to the world in which the student lives. The emphasis, consequently, is no longer being placed so exclusively on Latin, Greek, and Mythology, but the facts of modern society are given more attention. In practically all the large universities, and in many of the smaller institutions, therefore, courses are found which deal specifically with fiscal problems. Such a development of study is hopeful, for it should place in each community a group of leaders who should be vitally interested in the expenditures and revenues of their district, as well as those of the state and nation.
These leaders, who have learned to think sanely and clearly on the principles, will be able to peer beneath the surface and separate the true evidence from the false, and will be deeply enough grounded that they should not be easily swayed by partisan politics or party slogans, when the issue is essentially one of economic interests. It has been a source of much gratification to the author to note the interest his students have displayed in working up reports on the expenditures and revenues of their home communities. That this interest has not been merely a passing one is evidenced by the letters which are received from former students, in which attention is called to different fiscal situations which have come under their observation, and that they are now able to see the facts in the case.
Outside the colleges and universities the same tendency to study fiscal problems is making itself manifest. Organizations, both national and state, have been established for this purpose, and are doing a good work. Authorities in various fields work out their respective problems and usually assemble at least once a year to discuss the fiscal situation and to interchange ideas. The National Tax Association is the best illustration of this form of organization on a national basis. The annual state conferences on taxation in New York are largely for the purpose of studying the fiscal problems of that state. Conferences of various classes of officials are also frequently held for the purpose of studying problems peculiar to their duties. Conferences of local assessors, for example, frequently occur to discuss the problem of the discovery and valuation of property.
The study which has been done, and that which is being carried on at present, will facilitate the future investigation of fiscal problems. There is gradually being collected a quantity of valuable literature, both in this country and in other countries, which is common property to all present and future students. The reports which have been published by the various special and permanent commissions are supplemented by published proceedings of the numerous conferences which are held every year.