"HANG ON LIKE GRI DEATH"
—Says Canon Jackman "C.H." Inundated
Last week the CATHOLIC HERALD outlined the basis of a Work-for-all plan. The result has been overwhelming.
Advice has been received from people of all ranks and descriptions, some loud in their praise, others doubtful and suspicious that the plan is " Fascist."
But there is more applause than disapproval, and the keynote of the letters printed below is uttered by Mgr. Canon Jackman with: "Hang on like grim death . . . a symptom that Catholics mean at last to lead, and not merely to follow."
Owing to the great number of letters received it is only possible to publish extracts from a portion of them.
The outline of the CATHOLIC HERALD Work-For-All plan, published last week, has brought in a great number of letters. There is unfortunately only room to publish extracts from the most representative.
Mgr. Canon Jackman, rector of Holy Rood Church, Watford,
gives a trenchant endorsement of the C.H. plan.
" What I like most about it is that it reads like a symptom that Catholics mean at last to lead, and not merely to follow. It is high time we Catholics gave up serving invariably as yes-men to every good move that comes from others. We are shy of being a minority and claim time for reflection, whilst the good deed passes under our noses, and is done by others. Here is our chance for having an idea and shouting. It needs concentration, good lungs, and not too much respectability. So good luck to your scheme—but hang on to it like grim death.
H We Are So Smug" " Three years ago I gave an address on the timidity of Catholics which is applicable this very hour. I said: ' Hoping for the best, we have told the workers to be patient and wait.' We have kept a sort of jubilee of the publication of Rerum Novarutn. All so respectable; so smug and so law-abiding in the right old let-us-have-no-scene sort of spirit—and as our stomachs were full, we could afford to tell the workers to wait for the conversion of their oppressors; but, I ask you. could the workmen with their wives and children wait for that consummation? And that is why they ignore us and turn to those who call for action, those who do something while we talk. ...
"As Catholics and as men we do not want class war, but we have it thrust upon us. Pope Leo pointed to a class, not the class of capitalists, but the class of bad capitalists, the class living on usury and speculation: and, if his words mean anything, he meant that class to be suppressed. Of course the Pope was not urging violence, that is understood; but during the last forty years that class should have been taxed out of existence. Our inaction has kept that class as strong as ever. ... If we had put into our programme but one-tenth of the vigour which the Communists put into theirs, the battle and the victory would have been ours....
"Away with the old prejudice that charity is one of the soft virtues, the ornament of sweet dowagers, the trick of polite words with a few pence to lend them substance. Far from it. Charity is in action; it is the power to get under the skin of the unemployed, to feel what he feels, to rebel as he would rebel, with the additional intelligence and will that you can command, in order to see that justice is done. We need some of the fiery indignation that prompted Our Lord to seize a whip, and bundle the moneychangers and usurers out of the temple. He did not admonish them, He threw them out."
"I Am Puzzled . . ." Alderman Luke Hogan, M.B.E.,
leader of the Labour Party in Liverpool City Council, is critical of our references to Socialism. He writes: " Any scheme, or even suggestion, to find work for all ' should be examined with critical sympathy, and I read your article this week with interest.
" I am, however, intrigued (if much puzzled) by the reference both in the main article and in your leader, to Socialist and Fascist Compulsory Utopias,' and your statement that the CATHOLIC HERALD believes in neither. Like many thousands of Catholics here—ardent and determined supporters of the Labour and Socialist Movement—I would invite you to clarify the statements made.
"You are dealing with British unemployment. How can you refer to Fascism and Socialism here as twin evils? What is a Fascist Utopia? Concentration camps, compulsory labour, destruction of liberty and denial of religious freedom. What is your authority for the statement that, under Socialism, every one including (I presume) the idle rich, will receive • the full benefits of work whether they have the will to work or not?'
" Surely you must know that the Socialist Party here has, for years, urged that the unemployed should be offered useful public work at standard rates as an alternative to wasteful idleness on the dole?"
[The term "Socialism " was uscd, as always in the CATHOLIC HERALD, in its full meaning of the nationalisation of all the moans of production. including land, and the virtual replacement of the private property system by State distribution of la etillh necording to ilw needs of the Slate and of individuals as unitm in the State. We always refer to the Party of which Alderman Hogan is a leader, as "Labour " and not " Socialist."
The CATHOI.Sti HkRALD opposes equally the etate compulsion of Fascism and of Socialism. In the former the individual is forced to train and work at wages offered, whether he wishes to or sot; under Socialism he is promised
State support pretty well irrespective of the quality of his w ill, in other worde ho is promised that the State will undertake the obligation to provide everybody with everything they may need without. reference to whether they themselves db anything to merit that support. Such a view ultimately leads to the compulsory levying of the national wealth and its compulsory redistribution irrespective of human worth and will. Thus while it may be true that Labour leaders would prefer useful public work to the dole, how many men, deceived by Socialist propaganda, are willing to undergo the diecomforts of such training in order to it themselves? Christianity, in opposition to both Fascism and Socialism, insists that the individual should make the choice for himself and that the State should do all it can to guarantee that the good choice should yield good fruits.]
" It Would Cost £1,200 Million" J. L. Benvenisti: "I think you tend to minimise the question of cost. In order to secure the most desirable end of a better balance between town and country without which the unemployment problem cannot permanently be solved, we have to provide not only for the initial capital outlay, i.e., the cost in wages and materials of putting and maintaining men on the land, but we have also to make a proper working price relation between agricultural and manufactured produce.
" I have repeatedly pointed out that there can be no hope of social and economic regeneration until agricultural prices have been raised so that what is now marginal land may ba brought under cultivation. This in its turn means a reorganisation not only of rural but also of urban life (which is at present fantastically costly), so that the town dweller can afford to pay the enhanced prices.
" I cannot see how the thing could be done at not less than £500,000,000 per annum expended over a period of two to three years. 1 should put £1,200,000,000 to £1,500,000,000 at about the figure. You could of course temporarily expand employment by various forms of sterile expenditure at a smaller cost, but the effect could of necessity only be transient.
"An effort of the kind here indicated is out of the question until you have a government with far more drastic powers of levy and distraint than the present order could provide. For it would mean that all but the poorest would most painfully have to tighten their belts."
Need of Labour Party Representation A Prominent Cotholi,..Economist:
The Government's experience has shown the difficulty of persuading the unemployed to enter training centres and camps. The causes of this are manifold, not the least being a distrust of the Government and all its works. To attempt to introduce compulsory training, would, I think, provoke widespread resistance. So the problem is how to secure popularity for voluntary training, and to eliminate the distrust I have mentioned.
" Would it be possible to set up a controlling organisation which would be representative of the trade unions and the Labour Party as well as of the existing Government?
"From the technical point of view, the chief difficulty, I fancy, is that of expense. As we are evidently in for a period of intensive rearmament, with increasing financial outlay, there seems little likelihood that Parliament will sanction additional expenditure on the unemployed."
Here are extracts from some of the others. Most of the letter-writers have ideas about the way to wipe out unemployment among those who want to work. Some of the ideas are helpful and based on good sense, others are not so helpful, are so many bees let out for an airing, or at least give evidence of having been chewed over a great many times. But judge for yourselves.
Bridges in China, why not in Scotland?
Bryham Oliver, of 22, Lynedoch Place, Edinburgh, 3: "I cannot agree that a solution is to be found in the promotion of public works, within our present money system. Substantial experiments in this country and, more so in the United States, have already proved a failure.
" We could find plenty of work in supplying the ordinary needs of our underfed and undcrelothed people, without requiring to fight for new markets (whether with bombs or with bank credits), if it were not for the impersonal tyranny of the immoral and uneconomic money system which strangles production and encourages speculation.
" Here in Scotland, we are demanding a road bridge over the Firth of Forth, costing say five millions, and cannot get it. Yet if China, for example, were in a reasonably peaceful condition and required twenty such bridges, British finns would compete fiercely for the privilege of building them, and the government would gladly provide facilities for British loans with which to pay for them.
" We can build bridges abroad (and find the money to pay for them), but we cannot build bridges at home, because our money system is organised for the finance of foreign trade and not, except as a side line, for home trade.
"The system is far too deeply rooted to be overturned by any political action. We must attack its moral basis and for that purpose must use spiritual weapons."
It No Dismissal Except With a Year's Notice" C. B. V. Head, of 4, Edge Street, Kensington, W.8:
" While there are many men (and often skilled men) out of work, those actually employed in the same grades are working overtime and limited to one week's holiday a year.
" Those working do not complain. Their chief fear is that of losing their jobs and joining those outside.
" If this fear was removed, such as by making the ordinary weekly wage earner liable to dismissal, except for misconduct, only on a year's notice instead of on a week's notice, the position would probably
be different. The ordinary working-man then might not be adverse to a scheme whereby he received a month's holiday with pay (at the reduced rate) every year, and if in various groups the available work, and the available wages, together with a proportionate allowance from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, were pooled and divided among the existing workers plus an agreed percentage of the present ' outsiders '."
" Are You Suppressing the Dole?"
N. A. Herdsman, of 37, Brook Green, W.6:
'Do you propose that the dole should
be done away with? I rather fancy so from your own words: Only those who want to work will receive the material and moral benefits of work,' etc. Indeed, it is unlikely that the Government would provide, out of public money, both wages for those who chose to work and subsistence allowances for those, if any, who chose not to.
" If the suggested scheme is to supersede the dole, what becomes of its voluntary nature, on which you lay so much stress? A man who is at present provided with the means of living (however poorly), and is to be deprived of it unless he undertakes certain work, cannot truly be called a volunteer.
" We of the working-classes have long since ceased to be free, and are, therefore, incapable of volunteering in such a matter. The servile state has been established in this country for years. Our freedom has been undermined by pensions, compulsory insurance, the " dole," and the like. . ."
[The CATGOLTC HERALD Work-For-All plan does not envisage the suppression of the " dole." rather it is ealleellled with setting up a better form of " dole " as an alternative to which all men may have access. Instead of a State-granted weekly pittance by which the unemployed are maintained in undernourished idleness there would be for those who wanted it, training and work, a chance to regain dignity and health. True the work and the training would be given by the State, and paid by the State. But. paying for work— work that needs doing and benefits the whole community, is surely a possible and desirable alternative to paying for idleness.
It would unfortunately be improbable that everyone of those at present idle, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, could be absorbed by work of national development, and so obviously the system of the present dole would have to be maintained for those remaining unemployed.]
" Under Social Credit . .
H. A. Spiers, of Hunt Cottage, Arrow, Alcester: "Philip Mairet says: That which was always implicit in Social Credit must be declared—the relation of Man to the living Earth, which is the essential basis of economics. In terms of policy this means a dynamic conservatism, the focussing of all national and imperial energies upon the greatest task that man has yet undertaken —and that task is the repair of all the vast injuries that Financial Imperialism has inflicted upon the soil, fertility and natural life : the beginning, at last, of a true material culture and the restoration of its heritage to posterity '," " Government Would Lose Money—So What?"
Maurice Braddell, of 33, Westbourne Terrace, W.2:
"The point is this, right here and now.
" If the Government were to set up Wholesale Organisations for purchasing agricultural produce at any price they chose, and that organisation were to resell to Distributors at the market price of foreign imported agricultural goods:
" 1. The public would get a lot more fresh home-killed, home-grown at the price of imported foodstuffs.
" 2. Farmers would be well paid and could be obliged to pass it on in the form of good wages.
" 3. The agricultural community (still the largest single occupation in the realm), would be given double their purchasing power to spend in shops. " 4. The Imports Bill would be reduced. " The Government would be losing money, for they would be buying at a higher price than they sold.
" So what?
" The amount of cash lost in the ledger would be represented by the increase of eatable foods (real wealth) in the land. So that the increase is really only an expansion of purchasing power which would cover the amount needed by the Government to make up the apparent loss in ledgers."