In this chapter we are dealing only with man and his purpose in society. We can agree without question that he invented his institutions to serve, not to enslave him.; There-ore the first supreme law, binding upon Parliament and f lfiFe°^e' to Prov^e for human right and need and to nunl the Christian precepts of the British Common Law, should be:
Man shall not be treated as subservient to monetary policy or to industrial and commercial exploitation.
A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
The object of this supreme Common Law shall be:
To ensure that the principles by which the economic and industrial life of the community is governed shall be so reconstituted as to make it possible that social institutions shall serve the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of man, and man be not subservient to them.
Woe! you enacters of wicked decrees,—
and pronouncers of cruel decisions, To turn off the weak from their right,
and strip My poor people of justice,— To make widows their prey and orphans their spoil! What will you do in the day of assize, which
will come from afar with a crash ?
MAN FERSUS THE MACHINE
Unceasing competition in the market with rival producers
forces every industry to try to lower the cost of production
so that they can sell their goods at a lower price than their
competitors, and by this means capture more trade. To
lower the cost of labour, high-speed labour-saving machines
are used, but the "saved" wages defeat the object in view
by depleting the purchasing power of the market. The
law of cost accountancy requires that the needs of finance
shall be met, not the needs of life. No "written" law makes
it obligatory that the security of the worker shall be pro
tected in the process, with the result that he loses his job
and is deprived of his income. The real problem of the
labour-saving machine is not that it causes unemployment,
but that it deprives men of their incomes and the ability to
buy the goods it has produced. n
It has been calculated that during the nine years prior to 1927 mechanised development displaced 2,500,000 workers. But we should welcome the machine because it can release man from the ancient curse of toil merely to get bread for life. It has given him the opportunity to increase his leisure, so that he may develop his personality by other activities and enrich society by his spiritual, intellectual, and cultural attainments.
The principle which we propose shall be the first and overriding British Law would acknowledge and enforce the natural right of all subjects of the Realm to enjoy the full benefits of their productive capacity and the social, medical, educational, and cultural amenities which their knowledge ana association have made possible. This requires measures which, for instance, would prevent unnecessary poverty and insecurity. Is it possible for man with his knowledge and resources to do this? Can we provide the people with
36 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
sufficient food, clothes, boots, healthy homes, and other
necessities of life? '
Mechanical aid has made it possible for 80 men working
the same number of hours to produce as much wrought
iron as 900 men a few years back.
One man produces over 4000 tons of pig-iron per annum; his father worked hard to produce only 800 tons per annum. Similarly 200 men replaced 3000 in a new electricity-producing plant.
In medieval times it took 7200 members of the Shoe Makers Guild five and a half days to produce 7 200 pairs of shoes. Now, under the necessity of " increased production and less costs," the same number of men produced 595,000 pairs in the same time. In Fleetwood, Lancashire, a boot-repairing machine re-soles shoes at the rate of 240 an hour (one in fifteen seconds).
A few years ago a bricklayer laid 450 bricks a day. One
man can now lay 12,000 bricks in eight hours by using a
The machine which produced 600 cigarettes a minute in 1914 has been superseded by a machine which throws out
labCday with less than half the staff more than four times the number of motor-cars can be produced in three months than in twelve months in 1918.
Similar figures could be produced endlessly, dealing with fruit-picking, reaping, canning, fish-cleaning, engineering, counting, printing, and so on, showing that every task performed by man, or every new industry shortly after its inception, can be done more efficiently, and the output increased tremendously, with less and less human labour.
The labour of fifty slaves in ancient Greece enabled one family to live a luxurious, leisured, and cultured life. Mr F. R. Low, editor of Power, estimated that engines operating in Great Britain prior to 1929 developed, approximately 175,000,000 horse-power. On the basis often men equal one horse-power, each man, woman, and child in Great Britain has the equivalent of forty slaves prepared to give him or her all the necessities of life. Yet millions are less certain of obtaining even the bare necessities of life than the slaves of ancient Greece.
If the money of this country represented its real wealth of goods and services which the people produce and render, and was issued to them to enable everybody to consume and use their share of that wealth, the national standard of living would be more than trebled.
The above potential wealth of British subjects is not unreasonable. We have the statistics of the late Sir Josiah btamp. In 1930 he prepared an estimate of Britain's wealth. He gave our net capital as £18,045,000,000—or £450 per man, woman, and child. The capital wealth of the average family could therefore be, in terms of money, £ 1800.
Britain's income is £4,000,000,000 yearly—approxi-matfjy £>l9° per head. Every family of four in this country could receive an income of not less than £400 a year, and witn a capital of £1800 in the bank or in the capital services o* the country.
8 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE 1
<| John On reported previous to the war that 10,000,000
^ ^ A^pJSi Send fir0" ^ *£^°S$n Orr and tl B.M.A.s standards the diet of half the population, and of considerably over half the children, of these islands was inadequate. The maternal and infantile mortality and the death toll of children and adults caused by deficiency diseases due to inadequate food staggers and shocks the imagination. To the everlasting shame of society we allowed thousands upon thousands of our fellows to starve. Half the population received insufficient money to buy the food necessary to maintain a decent standard of health; thousands upon thousands of our fellows became the breeding ground for every kind of ailment, disease, and plague; whilst our granaries and stores were stocked with food and our machines turned out an abundance of all things necessary for the health and well-being of the people.
We believe it was Professor Julian S. Huxley, Secretary of the Zoological Society, who said: "If I treated the animals in my charge as children are treated I would be summoned for cruelty to animals."
The weekly food bill of the great apes at the Zoo costs it, 1 os., but the unemployed man (Means Test) and woman
wm0'mm tothethemselvesandr r
received no extras anT!' f Aberdeen's expectant mothers It £& ,l^h a?dsuffered from anemia and ill-health.
: It is time"thirourlaWsadf°d ^'f'
ivmg for human beines ^r^ded that the standard of
.„ flirts, ana suttered fr^™ -
It costs 3os. per week to rear a £? ?" -
to ios. a week™ rl kP ^T apereceivesfrom6s> war.that 49?D^^^0^^^^^
level. ^utwe:candoluSbeS"eaSedatle^t to animal-
In this chapter we are inlaws which should underlie and°SderinS *e principles or
& vern monetary practice.
MAN FBRSVS THE MACHINE 39
This subject is dealt with later. For the moment it is efficient to realise that the present economic and industrial Em can provide the unemployed with adequate incomes nlv by the greater taxation of their more fortunate fellows. This is no moral reason for treating enforced leisure as a social crime, punishable with semi-starvation. On the other hand it is a very good reason why the economic system should be changed so that everyone can be provided with sufficient for their needs.
Many good people would hate to admit that the system they have striven to preserve has no place for humanity. For human beings to be sacrificed in order to maintain a system which doesn't work and which degrades them is singularly stupid. If the economic system cannot distribute its wealth of supplies to all who need them without economic disaster, then there is adequate reason for replacing it with one which will function efficiently. No one, whatever their class or position, is secure when humanity must be sacrificed to maintain the system under which they live. Mankind has become a mere cipher in political and economic policy, and until it demands redress and moral-civic laws to preserve its rights it will lose every semblance of freedom and security.
Invention and discovery have made industry and agriculture progressive in the highest degree and able to adapt themselves to every demand made.
But our economic system is unprogressive; its inefficiency is proved by every development of the labour-saving machine and the resultant increase of wealth, unemployment, and poverty. It does not measure up to the normal demands °r hre. Consequently the producer, the wage-earner, the unemployed, and the general public have become the victims or defective monetary practice and legislation, overtaken by Progressive and intelligent invention.
When he has faithfully fulfilled his obligation to society
Y providing its requirements the producer is ruined. His
employees are thrown on the streets and become a lost
4o A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
market to the traders, because they must first buy with their labour the money to buy the goods for sale.
In 1921 Mr Lloyd George appointed a committee to discuss unemployment. For ten years from that time we had trade depression and one economic crisis after another. In 1931 Mr MacDonald appointed another committee to inquire why there was unemployment. The necessities and the amenities of life, which the unemployed needed, were there in plenty, but as work could not be found 2,000 000 men became the "hard core of unemployment" and the food was destroyed. No attempt was made to balance the distributive system with the productive system. No attempt was made to base economic laws on moral laws. Mr MacDonald's committee did not ask:,' "Is there plenty of food, warmth, and shelter in the world; if so, how might we organise its distribution so the people may enjoy it?"
o?4Ce banS E l ^ » ^ '* Wm *' ^
can^erSaTid Ifill "Thereas™ why the bankers
Seal affair t^T- ?** fortheir ^ice, not on
be raSed ilralThI:0ht,CSlbUt °nhowaloanwasto
should have said- «H ^ ^" j°b'" Mr MacDonald
here are the traders hTt^ 1 menwho want food and
bought, so reform them ^Cau8etheir g°odsarenot
goods can be sold kf^^ll Systemln order that the
When the goods are all ton!' Banker> that'* your job.
work making more» %?? wec*n put the unemployed to
who could not conceive the iA aninsta*ce of a statesman
the decwye factor in moneSrl f.?man'sneeds becoming
We reiterate that h., YPolicy.
They will kill your ox, but you will not be allowed to eat it;
They will steal your ass and never return it;
A people whom you do not know will consume the produce
of your farms, and all your acquisitions, and you shall be
plundered and oppressed."
Deuteronomy. CHAPTER THREE
DESTRUCTION OF FOOD AND LIFE
In the previous chapter we gave evidence showing that poverty could be abolished as from to-morrow; we also put forward moral and practical reasons why it should be forbidden by laws which no parliament or people can violate. Further enactments are required so that there can be no mistake as to their meaning, and also to enable the most simple-minded to understand them.
The disasters which befell this country and the world after the First Great War were due to a variety of causes: an economic system which was impractical and inimical to human life; to greed and to political and commercial corruption, and to fear of change. The greater evil is not the exploitation of human life for private profit and power, but that governments and laws allow the continuance of a system which any knave can use for his own gain at the expense of the many.
When our legislators plan the new world after the war we must see to it that there shall first be enacted laws to provide a signpost for Members of Parliament. Without a clear-cut issue between right and wrong, between human need and economic evil, they will be baffled and befogged by the conflicting interests, all of which will clamour for preference. Without a common standard of right our rulers will be unable to differentiate between good and evil; they will again try to balance the contradictory elements of an unpractical economic policy and once more seek to preserve !t at the expense of humanity. It seems that our politicians never learn lessons from their past mistakes. We need laws which cannot be violated to prevent them doing wrong and to make them do right.
Let us cast our minds back over the past. With their rninds following the disastrous but familiar paths of the
Sem of reconstruction confused them, and their actions Kug? crisis after crisis upon the nation and untold suffer-
m¥^SP the task entrusted to them by denouncing
^Onjune 4, 1919, Mr Ramsay MacDonald said: "There are more scoundrels in this Parliament than have ever^ been elected in the history of the House of Commons. . . ."
The previous year the Rt. Hon. George Barnes, reported in the Scotsman, told of his desire to put the Labour candidates up against a wall and, apparently, to shoot them.
Meanwhile Mr Lloyd George placed before the nation the ideal of a new world. He said:
"What does a new world mean? What was the old world like ? It was a world where toil for myriads of honest workers, men and women, purchased nothing better than squalor, penury, anxiety, and wretchedness—a world scarred by slums and disgraced by sweating, where unemployment through the ■ vicissitudes of industry brought despair to multitudes of humble homes; a world where, side by side with want, there was waste of the inexhaustible riches of the earth. ... I say to you that the children of the poor will have an equal chance with the children of the rich. ..."
Accordingly our administrators set out to build a new normal ™e nrst task wewere toldwas
3o/an^ f" **"& hWasnotinte*M was the
squalor and poverty mentioned bv Mr T r„ j o u
said, along with Mr T H ThJZl c- \ Y\ GeOTSe> who
and'otherf, that trc^k^^**^ Ged,deS>
tion. * yuePendea upon increased produc-
I Accordingly the horses were ha,nM(j
men docked-in at the factoriS, Xe'f *' pl°UghS'
stoked, and the machines began t« tf. furnaces were
endless flood of goods. noutan apparently
DESTRUCTION OF FOOD AND LIFE 47
The storehouses gradually filled to the roof with every-thiIg that people could desire. So far was good, but now
'^SA^aid thatthe PurpOSC °fincrfased foduction wafto cause prices to fall so that all would get the benefit. Mr Lloyd George said that prices wouldn't fall and the nation would get the benefit. But all agreed that there would be no unemployed. It was then discovered that the goods were not being sold as quickly as they were produced. The markets were glutted. The ploughs were put away and the land went out of cultivation, the factory furnaces burnt out, the wheels of industry slowed down, and unemployed men tramped the streets. Having produced abundance, their standard of living went down.
The country became a land of tenements where work
men hung .about in their doorways and the goods they
couldn't buy rotted in the storehouses. m
In Westminster the problem sat before its originators. They talked of how to remove it.
The real need was to distribute the goods to the people; but for some reason it was considered almost immoral to give goods to people who were unemployed, even though they had made them. That the economic system did not provide the people with sufficient money to buy the goods was not accepted as a reason for reforming it. Politicians blamed everybody and everything except the faulty system. Sir Auckland Geddes blamed the railwaymen and Mr J- H. Thomas, Mr Appleton said the miners were the cause. Mr Barnes could not see how the moulders escaped guilt. Mr Lloyd George put the whole thing down to
Aifge °frailway engines ^d rolling stock. Then Sir Auckland Geddes changed his previous opinion; he said it was the drought. Mr Clynes repudiated that as nonsense; the employers were at fault for jumping prices. Had he not said that prices would fall ?
Mr Lloyd George and Mr Clynes told Sir Robert Home
48 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
that it was a matter of grave importance that there should be 1,000,000 people unemployed.
Everyone agreed, because they accepted the financial dictum that the purpose of life was to work to make goods for profit not that work was necessary to provide food, and leisure was an opportunity to enjoy to the full the fruits
Three years later there were 2,300,000 unemployed. But for the moment the ministers could see no way of getting the surplus food to the people unless they found them work. As no work could be found until the goods were sold they decided to sell them abroad. We therefore lent the foreigner money to buy our food. Then something had to be done to prevent him paying us back because, according to Sir Auckland Geddes, cheap goods from abroad were a menace—they would cause unemployment.
So a committee was formed to solve the problem by taxing imports. It sat for three years.