From a post to ALT.BOOKS.DAVID-WEBER dated October 9, 1998:

What are the League/Solarian League Navy financial resources?

    Chris is also right, though perhaps not as strongly so as he has argued, about the League's attitude towards naval spending. Despite the League's enormous (read incalculable) wealth, the League government is usually on fairly tight fiscal rations. Proportionately, most of the League's member governments, however poor, have much higher tax revenues than the central government does. This is, in large part, intentional. When the League was first organized, its charter members had been independent worlds and star systems for as much as a thousand years. They had no intention of resigning their individual sovereignties to a central government, especially not one which--by the nature of things--would be arthritic in operation if only because of the communication delays. Accordingly, they opted for a very decentralized federalism and, taking a page from the frames of the US Constitution, deliberately designed as much "grit" as possible into the system to prevent the central government from gradually (and naturally) evolving into something more powerful than they wanted. Accordingly, the League government's funding sources are specifically limited by the League Constitution... and direct taxation of League citizens is expressly prohibited. The central government is funded by a collection of import duties, customs fees, direct assessments for naval spending, etc., plus additional voluntary contributions. This means that while the absolute amount of cash flowing through the League's coffers is stupendous, it is actually quite low compared to the many things the government has to pay for. (This problem has become even more pronounced over the last 200-300 years as the SL's bureaucracies have grown larger and larger. In a very real sense, the bureaucrats are trying to sneak around the flank of the deliberately decentralized Constitution by gradually extending the areas--both physical and governmental--which are controlled by League regulation rather than by League legislation. As this growth has continued, an ever greater slice of the total federal budget has been absorbed by the bureaucracy at the expense of other, more traditional organs of the government... like the Navy. At the same time, the Navy has also developed into a bureaucratic monster which has not fought a war--or seriously considered the need to--for at least 200 years.)