at the wrong end. What is c 11 J * reputatlonby starring
an underconsumption erist* -n, overproduction is always
S' There are millions of good
I DESTRUCTION OF FOOD AND LIFE 49
pie who would like to work in order to have automobiles, ^dios better homes, and enough to eat. What is needed
is more buyers."
He went on to speak of the population of the world. He estimated that 960,000,000 human beings were in a state of semi-starvation. He advocated earnestly that the purchasing powers of the masses should be considered. He pointed out that an increased purchasing power of only a few pence per day among 960,000,000 would solve the world's economic crisis.
"How long will it be," he inquired, "before this simple
arithmetic is grasped ?" .
But the rule of finance demanded that interest on loans should be paid even if the people starved in the process.
It was decided that one of the causes of the trade depression was Russia, who refused to pay her war debts. On May 9, 1919, Mr Churchill said that we must go to war with her. She must be taught how to live as "... a genuine national democratic, modern State, where the people own the Government and not the Government the people, where there is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness open to all."
Mr Bonar Law agreed. But the British workers refused to load munitions at the docks, and alarm spread before the threat of a general strike. The plans to fight another war to get interest on war loans were dropped.
The Russian adventure cost the British taxpayer £105,200,000 which might have been used to increase the standard of living.
Mr Lloyd George afterwards discovered that Poland
was the cause of the trouble and a trade pact was made with
In 1919 men were urged to work to increase production and bring down prices. In 1922 they were sacked to slow down production and force up prices. Then they were told to economise. When each piece of advice had been tried, and failed, Mr Bonar Law said that the country needed a
50 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
period of "tranquillity." Mr Maxton and Mr Wheatley objected to doing nothing and were expelled.
Five years went by, then Mr MacDonald came into office. He told the poverty-stricken farm labourers and industrial workers that they could rest happy in the knowledge that stocks were firm and gold was safe. Mr Snowden suggested that the workers should save money and invest it to start more factories working. We were told to get rid of the glut by not buying it up. Those who spent their money were called "squandermaniacs."
In 1923 millions of families were existing on 28s. to £2 per week, t These people were advised to economise because, as Mr Snowden said:
"We are bound to have to face an intensified competition in the world's trade in the future, therefore we are bound to do everything we possibly can now by cheapening our methods of production and by improving our methods in every possible way, so that when the revival of trade comes this country will . be able to secure its fullest share of the improvement."
We were told the war had made us poor and we had got to pay for it. The taxpayer was paying £354,000,000 a year and was supposed to be drawing an interest of £360,000,000 In paying its War Debt to itself, by some curious jugglery with figures, the nation made a profit of £6,000,000 a year and became poorer thereby. We were told the money was being paid to the poor widows and orphans who had bought war loans. But in actual fact the bulk of the money was going to the small financial group who held the nation's credit in bondage.
Mr Snowden was named "the wizard of economics." He attended many conferences. There were twelve of them They were held to decide how much Germany should pay in reparations. There were two difficulties If she paid with her cheap goods, that would th7ow S remainder of our employed out of work. If we W her money after our usual policy then she would, as Sir Rober
DESTRUCTION OF FOOD AND LIFE Si,
•A he provided with the means of competing with H0TnrZ! international financial system prevented co-opera-US' and we could not allow the successful competition of
°trMtl)onald wanted to give East Africa a railway and ct.lt upon a great electrical development scheme for the coalfields Work had to be found, but it did not seem to matter whether it was for our own people or for the natives of
Africa. , O ,
Mr Snowden said "The return to a sound monetary
system had established conditions favourable to the revival
of trade," but trade did not revive.
The Minister of Labour wanted a universal eight-hour day in accordance with the Washington Agreement, as Mr Lloyd George had wanted in 1919. The Home Secretary wished to introduce a new Factory Act.
Some Members grumbled over the taxes on razor blades, on gloves, and on anything and everything except the tax of almost £1,000,000 a day to pay War Loan Interest. A suggestion to tax bookmakers was considered to be wicked, so it was argued whether to put id. or 2d. on or off beer, on or off tea, or to rob the Road Fund. We were now in 1926, when our Members argued about everything which did not really matter, whilst big items detrimental to national security went by unchallenged. Mr Snowden said that a return to the Gold Standard would bring prosperity.
On one occasion the Members seemed nauseated by the political sophistries and the endless voting for and against some trifling measure, whilst the real problems were ignored. Whatever the cause, thirteen Members staged a stay-in strike by entering the Lobby to vote and refusing to go out again.
In 1918 we had set out to build a new world. Instead, by 1926, England had become a distressed area.
On April 21, 1932, Mr Winston Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, apologised to the House ofComm for his share of responsibility, and revealed that h 'forced" to sacrifice the people to the god of gold:
I F* -FT&■ ft ,> f-< „ ,-^ .-, r- jr\
52 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
"When I was moved by many arguments and forced in 1925
I to return to the Gold Standard I was assured by the highest
experts that we were anchoring ourselves to reality and stability,
and I accepted their advice. But what has happened? We
have no reality, no stability. The price of gold has risen since
I then by more than 7° Percent- Lookattheenormou^7 increased volume of commodities which have been created in order to pay off the same mortgage debt or loan. This monetary convulsion has now reached a pitch where I am persuaded that
1 the producers of new wealth will not tolerate indefinitely so hideous an oppression."
Never mind, said Mr Snowden, "the long dark night is over." He followed this with: "We are faced with a grave national situation."
These endless inconsistencies of our leaders and their inability even to understand the situation, much less to solve its problems, brought about the great strike of 1926. At once the strikers' own political representatives denounced them. They said the strike was aimed at the community.
Financial groups were hurriedly organised against the strike.
The workers had agreed to wage reductions because thje politicians had told them that their sacrifice would enable cheap coal to be produced and this would bring prosperity. But their sacrifice brought them years of poverty. It was not accepted that the people who had produced the cheap coal had the right to demand that the authorities should make good their promises of prosperity. 1 The strike was defeated, and the politicians said it was tne cause or the depression.
aJI';,1^11apP°inteda ^legation to visit flourishing America to learn how to end the depression. Americf was pursuing a pol.cy of easy industrial credit Public purchasmg power had been expanded by a nat on/hire^ purchase system. The people mortgaged S future incomes to buy goods in the present tk
When the debts were called in ^e It m°rt&&s§rew-
mere was no money to pay
I DESTRUCTION OF FOOD AND LIFE 53
them; the system collapsed. ? After that thousands of men and women lived on charity and hitch-hiked from one end of the country to the other. Unemployment reached a
figure of 13,000,000.
When America could provide no answer to the problem Parliament decided to do something about the depressed areas. Miss Bondfield and Mr Clynes started moving the unemployed from distressed places to more prosperous towns. Because these men were untrained they were paid a lower wage than the local worker, with the result that thousands of skilled workers in such towns as Coventry and Manchester lost their jobs.
The slump spread over the land. The M.P.s became alarmed. There was too much clothing, too much food too many boots, and too many people wanting them. Countless schemes were tried to solve the problem, except those of a free distribution of goods or payment of higher wages.
We have a document dated October 29, 1927, in which Mr G. W. Rickards, M.P. for Skipton-in-Craven, says: "Sir George Newman, the late Chief Medical Officer of Health, had reported an undiminishing stream of some 100,000 physically defective children entering schools each year. At least 75 per cent, of young men wishing to join the forces were medically rejected.
" Investigations showed that malnutrition before and after birth was the predetermining cause of adolescent and adult physical and organic defects in nearly 95 per cent, of the cases examined. The other 5 per cent, showed defects due to congenital disease or inherited tendencies to disease."
It was pointed out by Mr Rickards that the Great War of 1914-18 cost Britain approximately £8,000,000,000 sterling; expenditure on the abortive treatment of consumption and on deficiency diseases had cost approximately £8,200,000,000, with no marked lessening of the annual death toll.
Both the money and the lives could have been rescued bv a distribution of the excessive food supplies We could
fe^Sd «»«^ forWarbutn0tf°rllfe' If*C ^^
54 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
spent in fighting the 1914-18 war had been used for peace it would have provided every family in America, Canada, Australia, the British Isles, France, Belgium, Russia, and Germany with a house and five acres of land, worth £800. There would still have been left sufficient to give every town of 20,000 people a £1,000,000 library and a £2,000,000 university. A remaining sum of some £1,000,000,000 could have been given to hospitals and other social services. 'British agriculture could have been made prosperous to the end of time.
Mr Rickards said that milk was being sold to manufacturers at 5d. a gallon (to make buttons, combs, and umbrella handles), and to the public for 2s. 4d. The monopolies controlling the Milk Board took the profit. He said: 'That this profit should be wrung out of the starving bodies of babies and women with full Government consent should make every Englishman blush with shame." He made the same complaint regarding many vital foodstuffs. Though Britain was fast becoming a C3 nation, because of the lack of sufficient purchasing power to buy food, the Government decided that £40,000,000 was too high a figure to pay to the unemployed. But, as financial interest demanded preference to human interest, there was no
™7Tti °Ut I*6 ?aTnk °fEnSlandmak^g £50,000,000 and IZll™*lo^Ins-^e, or that bankrupt industries
incredible that M.? 1 spoke fn Z ?" °^ U^^ when they discovered ^u^i1^ m.shockedJ *"? pittance by working ^^^F* mfnmcreased *«r an unemployed mfn with „\J* ^ als° Covered that received the same as an ^Lf? fagenumber of children Made blind ^h££^^** two children, of high finance, and with no rule+ 7? Constant pressure of right and wrong, our W,*«lt! g1uidethemin- decisions
of benefit. AH except J^yZl fTnded* reducrioiI
the reduction. yree labour men voted for
DESTRUCTION OF FOOD AND LIFE 55
Sir George May, of the Prudential Insurance Company whose financial operations had closed down hundreds of industries, was appointed to a committee formed to show the workless how to economise.
The committee worked at top speed. They missed nothing except usurers' interest. They cut Maternity and Health Insurance grants, Education grants, and all incomes doles, and charities.
Then came the Means Test. Judge Jeffreys must have smiled in his grave at being called a tyrant. With the powers of the Means Test behind them, inspectors violated the privacy of the homes of the poor. They examined the larders or cupboards to see what food they could find. They told the occupants that they must sell their furniture, watches and other prized possessions before they could receive their pittance from the Labour Exchange. Some of the inspectors even looked under the mattresses of the beds to see if there was any dirt there. A son at work striving to keep a family was often sufficient reason for stopping an unemployed father's dole. Unemployed sons lost theif benefit and were told that their fathers must keep them. Consequently homes were broken up, because sons refused to deplete the meagre family income.
The homes belonged to the heroes who had fought at Somme, Ypres, and the Dardanelles, and who had been promised a land where they could live in plenty and security with their families. They expected bread, but Whitehall remembered them in stone.
After years of increasing economies, and the use of every device known to politicians to keep the payment^ot War | Loan Interest at 5 per cent., it was ^f^Y^f^ ll ner cent What had been denounced as immoral was SCT*. Iri and wise. The pr-o- ,ohcy had been wrong, ^fi^tfiSSZ+i***-
Mr Churchill said we must pay in goM.
56 ?A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE 1
Mr Snowden was horrified, and said such a policy would be disastrous to the value of sterling and would drag us down to destruction—meaning the financiers; not the industrialists, the traders, the poorly paid workers or dependants of the unemployed, who were already bankrupt.
It was agreed not to default on our debt to America but to pay by tokens of acknowledgment. By this means we
should not "lose face."
Mr MacDonald said the world had been struck by an "Economic Blizzard" and called another international conference "to face new historical economic conditions."
He took his economists among the fossils in the Geological
Museum at South Kensington to hold his International
Conference. The King opened the conference by trying
to get the politicians and their economic advisers to face the
|j The conference ruled out the. possibility of war debts or
financial policy having anything to do with the trouble.
The results of their long and fruitless wrangling must have
convinced His Majesty that it was "beyond the wit of
man n to make good use of his abundance. The Museum
became a Babel of 2000 representatives whose utterances
could only end in confusion.
The stupid and perverse generation of world economists and politicians decided that if the nations had too many boots, too much coal, too much food, or too much of anything which the people wanted, the way to solve the problem was
1 SS!t«nCTe8 1 T^dandst°P the P^ple getting them. Millions of people had already been sacrificed to die god
1 andTTCc?Pe4c?y- The S°odsh«d^ be got rid of
I SLSJST ^ *" 6nM >—"'' *« Educing
to pay them not V^oZZ?ltA7ul.d ^ sound economics presumably ruined the world so lbundant Paction had
wa, so the way to prosperity was
DESTRUCTION OF FOOD AND LIFE 57
to introduce scarcity by restricting production and by main-
* Thf h$hSt Government began to pay people for not ducing tin, the mine owner for not producing coal, and She farmer (if he was well informed) for not owning a farm, for not growing hops and other primary products.
Perhaps the gods had decided to destroy our politicians; in any case they seemed to take the preliminary step in making them mad. The immoral, anti-human policy of spurning God's gifts and destroying the necessities of life operated in this manner.
Production was limited by quotas. Potato growers were allotted the quota they would be allowed to grow. If they wished to get money for doing nothing they could transfer their quota to someone else and claim a transfer fee for not growing potatoes. If a farmer increased his acreage beyond the quota he was fined £5 for each extra acre.
The owner of coal mines and other producers claimed transfer fees and made huge profits by producing nothing, whilst the unemployed were called lazy dogs who deserved to starve, and many traders and managers of industries whose businesses had been ruined, either by the slump or by the policy of rationalisation, sank almost to the level of the unemployed wage-earner.
The railway companies were paid 2s. id. for each pig
transported from farm to curing factory. If the farmer
transported the pig he got is. 8d. and the railway company
the balance of 5d. for not transporting the pig; but if the
farmer slaughtered his pig and took the carcass to the curing
factory the railway company received the whole 2s. id. for
doing nothing at all. 1
During the years of madness M.P.s cried that work rnust be found for the unemployed, but at the same time they insisted that less goods must be produced. So they scrapped thousands of Lancashire cotton spindles, and closed down factories of all kinds. They bought up fishing boats, ships, and shipyards, and scrapped them.
58 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
Shipbuilding was restricted. Coal and tin mines Were
closed down. .J
The madness spread like a disease, in America, Congress voted millions of dollars to pay farmers to destroy! pigs and not to breed them. The Daily Express (September 28, I933) sported that the first great slaughter included 2,000,000 sows and 4,000,000 little pigs. The