Hide Articles List

9 articles on this Page



The Men We Trust.


jScratched Until He Bled.

,0.-.-.----------rA POLITICAL…


0. r A POLITICAL PROBLEM THAT HAS BEEN SOLVED. HOW TO PRODUCE UNEMPLOYMENT. By LEWIS H. BERENS. [The Editor does not necessarily identify him- self with all the opinions expressed by the writer.] II. "The casual labourer was not casual be cause he wished to be casual, was not casual -as the consequence of some temporary dis- turbance soon to be put right. No; the casu- al labourer was here because lie was wanted hero. He was here in answer to a perfectly '.veil-defined demand. He was asthe re- sult of economic causes. He ,wa& not the natural product; he was an article manufac- tured, callod into being, to suit tho require- ments of all industries at particular time-, and of particularindustri-es at all times."— Mr. Winston Churchill, M.P. (Spe-,cli at Dun- dee, Oct. 11th, 1908.) With the rest of the report we must deal somewhat more briefly, thouht all of it is well worth careful study, more especially by such as desire to acquaint themselves how most effec- tively to produce poverty in the midst of plen- ty, leisured millionaires and industrious pau- pers, idle acre; and idle hands, enforced unem- ployment,, and to secure a constant supply of "free" and "cheap" labour. "EMIGRATION." Under thi;" heading, the following extracts arc well worthy the attention of our readers. The Colonisation Commissioners for South Aus- tralia first point out that: "In framing the regulations for the selec- tion of emigrant labourers given in the ap- pendix, we have endeavoured to give effect to the obvious intention of the Legislature, 'viz.: that the emigration fund should be ex- ponded in such a manner as to produce in the Colony the greatest permanent amount of available labour; with this view, although we have a,s far as possible confined the expendi- ture to young adult persons of the two sexes, we have not refused to contribute something towards the expense of conveying children (except the very young), making the amount of assistance increase as they advance toward adult age. In adopting tho scale of assist- ance, we have been careful to keep in v,:ew the principle, that allowing even compound interest on the amount of assistance afforded, and taking into account also the ordinary chance of mortality, any number of children shall on arrival at adult ago, have cost the emigration fund le=8 than if the period oi their removal had been delayed until such time." Careful, high-minded Commissioners! For, in other words, in making their selection, they had worked as if animated by the motives which would influence a cautious stock-breeding when purchasing heifers and calves for a new estate. They deemed it necessary, however, still further to defend their actions in the following words: "We have baen induced to consider such an arrangement judicious, partly from the con- sideration that the parents of a numerous family were less likely than others to give way to any temptations which may offer to leave the Colony. Considering the scarcity of free labour in the neighbouring Colonics, the probability of such temptations being offered is too obvious to escape attention, and we are desirous that they should be counter- In acted by strengthening every motive likely to attach th3 emigrant to his adopted (V) country. All restrictions wo have rejected as useless and mischievous. We wish to attach the emigrant to the Colony by holding out to his view a fair prospect of ad- vancement in life." But why were the Commissioners so anxious to deprive such common folk of every possibil- ity of being able to work for themselves "until they had worked for wages for a sufficient per- :od?" From figures given in the report, it ap- pears that to date some 36 "persons of a super- ior class" and some 189 "emigrants of the labouring class" had been forwarded to the new colony. Apparently the Commissioners deemed that about 200 workers were required to minister to the wants of, say, 40 "superior persons." COMMISSIONERS' FEARS. Despite all the precautions they could take within the boundaries of the new colony, the Commissioners were very alive to the awful temptations that might be offered to the com- mon people of the labouring class if land in adjoining colonies were available to them at too cheap a rate. They express their fears and their proposals in the following passage at the close of their report: "Were the price of land in any district raised sufficiently high to take out the propar supply of labour, while in some adjacent dis- trict land should continue to be sold at a lower price, or to be granted gratuitously, those who obtained their land at the lower price, or for nothing, would be in a condi- tion to offer higher wages to the emigrant labourers. The emigrant labourers would be attracted by the higher price of labour and the lower price of land, and thus the capital- ists who had contributed to the emigration fund (when purchasing the land) would be deprived of th9 supply of labour for which they had paid and the cardinal principle of the colony rendered inoperative," "To avert this very serious danger," the Com- missioners humbly venture to suggest that all the adjoining colonies "should be placed with respect to the disposal of their waste land un- der regulations similar to those which have been carried into effect in South Australia." But in their modesty they confined themselves "to soliciting His Lordship's favourable con- sideration to the paramount importance as re- spects the prosperity of the new colony (they mean, manifestly, the prosperity of the "super- ior classes") that the cardinal principle upon which it is established should be extended and rendered uniform and permanent throughout all the adjacent district of Now Holland to which British settlers may resort." And the report ends with the expression of the pious hope that colonisation conducted on these civilizing and Christianising principles may be extended without limit to other savage lands." Of the immediate fate of the new "model colony" established on these principles, to which all the ranks and classes of the Mother Country —squires and landless serfs, capitalist and wage slave, millionaires and paupers wera to be transplanted full grown, we need not dwell at any length. The "persons of the superior class" too evidently went "a colonising" in the same spirit as they would go to a. picnic. They housed themselves in such primitive dwellings, huts and tents, as the "emigrants of the labour class'' could be induced to provide for them; for the most part did nothing to produce any- thing or to develop their estates or the won- derful natural resources of the new country, but proceeded to live on the good things which their cash or credit enabled them to import from other countries; and settled down to a veritable orgy of gambling one with the other —the counters being the town and country lands of the new colony. As it is well describ- ed in a little book, entitled, "The Three Colon- ies of Australia," written by Samuel Sidney some fifteen years later: "As soon as the capital, Adelaide, had been selected and mapped, the holders of prelim- inary orders, forming the first body of colon- ists, selected their sections, and the whole surplus was put up for auction to the colon- ists, 'as a reward for their enterprise,' and sold at an average rate of J82 per acre. From that moment the great object of the first colonists became to puff, magnify, and sell to future colonists their building land in Adelaide. No crop was so profitable as land left in a state of nature, but called and sold for a. street. In every way the cultivating colonist was discoura,-eds and land-jobbing speculation invited. Young men of spirit were not satisfied to retire to the bush and look after a. flock of silly sheep while it was possible to buy a section of land at 91 per acre, give it a fine name as a village site, Bell the same thing at £ 10 an acre, for a bill the bank would discount, and live in style at the Southern Cross Hotel." WHEN THE BUBBLE COLLAPSED. But stock jobbing and land speculation pro- duce nothing; hence we cannot be surprised that in 1841, though Port Adelaide had been crowded with shipping, which had disoharged living and dead cargoes, but had departed in ballast, and though over 14,000 colonists had arrived, and the receipts from land sales and customs duties had risen to enormous amounts, "scarcely a vestige of an export had been pro- duced," nor that, when in the same year the Governor's unauthorised but necessary Bills on the Treasury had been dishonoured, and the land bubble bad collapsed, South Australia. was in debt about £ 400,000 on account of the colonial government, and the private debts of the colonists to English merchants were at least as much more, which kept scarcely employed the only officers the Commissioners had for- gotten to appoint, the Judge of the Insolvent Court and his subordinates. As regards the "emigrants of tho labouring class," they had for the most part been em- ployed working at high wages for the "person-s of the superior class" who had come out, under Mr. Wakefield's advice, "to labour with their < heads, not with their hands" for the Govern- ment, and for the South Australian Land Com- pany, who, however, soon gave up the job of running the colony, and subsided into the more humble but far more profitable position of ab- sentee landholders and land jobbers. But it was just these emigrants* who when the in evitable collapse came, saved the colony from utter abandonment. When others ceased to require their Labour, those humble folk, who, like the sheep and cattle, had been imported for the use of others, withdrew from the labour market, and, much to the disgust of the hired labour and sufficient price theorists, commenced to employ themselves, and give employment to others, by settling down on suitable rtions of land, the price of which had fallen, and for which they were the only possiblo purchasers. By their efforts the colony was kept going; commodities, not only for home consumption. but for export were produced; and, though Adelaide became for a time almost as a desert- ed; g ia twelve < months to the extent of four thousand, steady development, instead of gambling, became the order of the day; thus once more proving that "land is the mother, and labour the father ot all wealth," and that where land is available labour is truly free and independent, just as where it is all engrossed it is enthralled, help- less, and independent. TO END CLASS DISTINCTION. Thus the steps intended to enslave labour, to produce poverty in the midst of plenty, to create in a new country "a constant supply ot free (?) and cheap" hired labour, failed in their purpose, owing to conditions over which the patriotic promoters of the new British Colony had 110 control. But from their proposals we may perhaps learn how most easilv to remove these effects where they already exist. For, if by engro'-sing all the available land into the by engTO-.smg all the available land into the hands of a few, we can at wiil produce both a leisured "superior ciass" and an industrious, but enthralled and helpless, "free and cheap" "Labour class" then by reversing the process, by putting an end to land monopoly and making lilg and keeping the use of the land available to all upon equal and equitable terms, we may hope to avoid or put and end to those invidious and unnatural ciass distinctions, with all that they involve, which to-day tend to mako the older countries "the paradise of the few rich, the purgatory of the still fewer who are wise, but the hell of the industrious many who axe made and kept poor." If the Commissioners had been as solicitous for the welfare of "the emigrants of the lab- ouring class" as they were for "the persons of the superior class," this, manifestly, would have been the policy they would have pursued. Instead of arrogating to themselves the power to create a class of landlords, who shail "own" :11e land for ever, controlling its use and appro- priating to th:1U:celv.¡>s Üs ever increasing un. improved site values. Thus, no artificially created "sup\r¡(1r class" would have been pro- duced, nor any law-created helpless, and exploit- ed labour class. Equal opportunities could havo been secured to all, special favours and advantages to none. Some such steps as these would have been adopted had the Colonisation Commisj.ioners been in earnest to --ecure that "fair prospect of advancement in life," which they held out to the emigi-,itits- of- the labouring class" as a bait to induce them to go and to remain in vhc now colony. For if they had made over tho land in suitable blocks, in town nd in country, to those who wanted to put it to use, subject on IT to the annual payment of its unimproved rental value, whether the land were in use or not, then evidently 110 one would have had any inducement to buy the land or to own the land, unless they were desirous of putting it to use. Thus all the dire social ills due to land mono- poly would have been avoided, and the public revenues of the new colony for all time could have been raised without trespassing upon thv earnings or penalising the industrial activities of a single member of the community. In other words, all that equitably belongs to the individual could have been secured to the indi- vidual, and all that in equity belongs to the community could have been secured to the community as a whole. This method of land-holding-, or land-tenure, and of raising the necessary public revenues without deducting from the earnings of the individual, is known to-day as the taxation of land values. The term is rather a misleading one; for appropriating for public uses a value that is created and has constantly to be re- created by the presence, needs and activities of the public, cannot well be termed taxation. Under such conditions, no one would long care to claim to control an acre of land, or any other natural opportunity, unlezi, they wanted to use it, and. what is of equal importance to put it to the best use of which it is capable. For no one would care to rent land in Cheap- side in order to grow cabbages. Thus the land —"the field of all labour and the pource of all wealth"—would soon become available to indus- try on very different terms and conditions from those to-dav demanded and obtained. With land available to their industry, the workers, no matter in what field of industry they may tem- porarily be employed, or unemployed, would be made truly free, in a position to demand from others the full value of their services, or to produce for themselves from the natural sources such wealth as they may desire for their own comforts, as well as such capital as they want to facilitate their future labours.