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Labour Notes.

¡The Welsh Regiment Re-Union…

I An Awakening Nation.

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I An Awakening Nation. I JUDGE AND NEWSPAPERS DISCUSS I CURRENCY EVILS. WHAT MARX SAID AND WHY. I BY JOHN BARR. I tli,,ii- wild cat schemes for national salvation are finding their cause in a very parlous condition, and the fact that the conventional press are all at sea on the whole question was never better illus- trated than during the last week. The South Wales Echo" treats us to a re- print of whatt it considers to be a common-sense view of the economic position presented by a correspondent in a contemporary who signs him- self Anti-Jacobin." The writer is obviously in such a hurry to impress us with the idea that strikes are futile, higher wages being useless, that he unconsciously, let- us hope, drops the foIJoii-iiig geni:- But, says someone, if my wages were doubled and prices kept at the present level, I should ihavo so much left over to buy other things with. What other things? You can buy what exists, but even if you buy you can- not have what does not exast. The world's stocks of those commodities of which we all stand in need—food, clothing, fuel, houses, 4 domestic utensils, etc.—only exist in limited quantity. Assuming scarcity, although a 'look round our well-stocked emporiums makes it very difficult, we are of (course to understand that higher wages and less profits would not give the workers a better share in distribution. Drivel of this type has to be sustained, so we are prepared to find later the view that— The inflation of the currency, in so far as It. s a fact-, is not the cause, or at all events it is only a minor cause, of high prices. The following morning Mr. Justice Astbury w rite's a letter to the Times;" oil "The Nation and Its Liabilities," advocating a tax on capital, in the course of which he says:— If the country had foreseen the length and cost of the war from its commencement and the sacrinces it was going to involve, the right and prudent course, as far as ifnance is con- cerned, Mould have been to have provided by legislation that no one, whether capitalist or worker should make any profit out of the war. Instead of this, however, great fortunes have been made by exploiting the needs and neces- sities of the State during the last five or six years, and before any capital levy is made it seems onljr fair and reasonable that so much of such gains as represents unearned war in- crement should be restored to the State. This restoration, would bring in a large sum to the exchequer, and, when added to the amount to be produced by a moderate and graduated capital tax subsequently imposed, would enable our Habilitie.s to be substantial- ly reduced and our subsequent taxation to comply with the test above referred to. This confiscation of nominal capital to relieve the present position with a subsequent tax on real capital when not advocated by some tub- thumping Socialist but by an eminent Chancery Judge demands attention and some show of justification, so the Press boys are set to work, and in three days we find a paragraph headed Flood of Paper Money going the round of the Press in the Principality. After calling attention to the extraordinary increase of paper money during the last fort- night the paragraph goes on to state that— Increase of currency notes in the hands of the banks serves only as a means of creating fresh bainking credit to several times their amount. The flood of paper money is a prime cause of the high level of all prices, and an instigation to individual extravagance and speculation. So far expenditure during the present financial vear has exceeded revenue by £ 300,000,000! This Jumping Jack attitude of the Press con- cerning a matter which is of serious interest to the whole community leaver the average reader mystified and apt to look on the whole money problem as a perfect puzzle, the more so as on turning to Labour and Socialist literature he finds a distinct trace of paper money theories prevailing there. Mr. Sydney Webb some time ago congratu- lated the Labour Party on its freedom from "de- lusicfns in money matters," but since then we have had a pamphlet published on The, Wages Problem amd the Money Power in which a Repeal of the Bank Act of 1844 is advocated, to be replaced by a Government issue of currency notes to t'he extent of 700 millions. This course, instead of alleviating the present position would aggravate the trouble and bring us within measurable distance of a repetition of the French Assignats. Paper note issues are nothing more or less than a Government-forced internal loaJl procured by interference with an economic law, a;nd a glanoe at the position brought about by 339 millions in the world of prices will give IDS some faint idea of what 700 millions would do. Whilst a medium of social relations (money) based on a commodity (gold) is subject to the ordinary laws of value, i.e., the amount of social labour necessary to reproduce it, a medium of social relations based on worth- less paper is tied down to the law of its own quantity, and issued over the quantity necessary to do the work results in a corresponding rise in prices. Let us see, then, where we are at present. The Government returns on the currency notes account give the amount of notes out- standing on December 31st last as £ 323,241,000 September 24th, £ 331,174,000; October 8th, £ 339,486,000, and the percentage change in the Economist table of wholesale prices which stood in July 1914, at 116.6 has during this year jumped from January, 265.9, to September, 299.4. The connection between those tables is obvious, and taken in conjunction with the fact that the war is over and the demobilised soldiers having settled down to productive work, scarcity, in- stead of being intensified is somewhat relieved, clearly shows us that we are living in a state of paper money inflation. Marx gave us a sermonising text when he said: "Gold circulates because it ha.s value, but paper has value because it circulates," and on looking in I-ms writings for the reason why at a time of inflation it is impossible to discern it in ordinary simple circulation we find the ex- planation that inistead of acting in a purely symbolic manner paper tokens have evolved a proper movement of their own. That is to say, the more paper you circulate the higher the prides go and the more paper is requiTed. The end to a movement of this kind is seen in the French Revolutionary Asisignats (as quoted last week) which depreciated from t4 to 3d., and if the capitalists of the country were sensible of the dinged- to Capitalism they would see the neces- sity of a tax on war profits, if only for the purpose of prolonging the death struggles of the capitalist system.

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