The comparison of expenditures, which has been made in this chapter, is doubtless not entirely accurate. A number of difficulties arise which make accuracy impossible. One of these difficulties is that no uniform system of accounting exists for the various political bodies for which comparisons are to be made. The various items may not have the same meaning in the different units. For example, the items under charities, hospitals, and corrections may not include comparative sums for the different states or cities. Again, in our judicial system, where fees play such a large part, and are used in such a variety of ways, an accurate comparison of costs would be out of the question. In some cases the fee represents the entire cost of the service; in others it may be only a part of the cost, or no account may be taken of it by the treasury. Similar difficulties are found in attempts to compare practically every item of expenditure.

The obstacles in the way of preparing a comparison of expenditures for different countries are still more formidable. The systems of government are different, and just as different are the methods for attacking the fiscal problems. In some countries, as in the United States, a large percentage of expenditure is given over to the local governmental units, while in other countries, as in France, a larger part is undertaken by the central government. In some countries separate accounts are not maintained by the local and central governments, and the local units are simply agents for the expenditures of the larger bodies. Instead of pensions for worthy citizens, many states use public employment as a means to accomplish the same end. Obviously, then, a comparison of gratuities for different countries would be misleading. These suggestions as to the difficulties will indicate the disappointing results that must come from an attempt at accurate comparison of public expenditures.