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the most powerful factor of industrial progress. His greatly increased demands will compel the employers of labour to increase production to the utmost, to replace labour-wasting with the best labour-saving machinery, to Americanise industry. However, the exertions of the employers will prove a failure unless the workers can be convinced that they are ruining not only the national industries but also themselves by their insane policy of antagonising all mechanical improvements and of restricting output. The politicians in power can do much to enable employers of all kinds to double and treble production by pursuing in economic matters no longer a vote-gaining policy, but a business policy recommended by the ablest business men. The expert should replace the amateur in shaping and directing national economic policy. The War might, and ought to, lead not to Great Britain's bankruptcy, but to its industrial regeneration. It should be followed by a revival of industry similar to that which took place after the Great War a century ago.
The natural resources of the British Empire are unlimited. They are far greater than those of the United States. Owing to the War and to the stimulus which high taxation will provide, a tremendous economic expansion should take place both in Great Britain and in the Dominions which might place the British Empire permanently far ahead of the American Commonwealth. However, individual unco-ordinated effort will not bring about such a revival. A united national and imperial effort under the control of a business Government which leads and inspires is needed. If politicians continue their shiftless hand-to-mouth policy, if they continue thinking mainly of votes and neglecting the permanent interests of nation and Empire, the efforts of individuals to recreate the British industries and to give to the British Empire and to this country a modern economic organisation are bound to fail.
In view of the colossal war expenditure thrift is urgently
needed. Unfortunately, the British nation is a very improvident nation. This may be seen from the following figures :
Savings Banks Deposits.
Between 1880 and 1912 the Savings Banks Deposits increased in round figures in the United States and in Germany by £800,000,000, and in the United Kingdom by only £160,000,000, increasing about sixfold in the United States, about sevenfold in Germany, and only threefold in this country. During the five years from 1907 to 1912 they increased in round figures in the United States by £245,000,000, or 35 per cent. ; in Germany by £240,000,000, or 35 per cent.; and in the United Kingdom by a paltry £25,000,000, or 12 per cent. The record of the Savings Banks Deposits is particularly humiliating for this country if we remember that the German and American workers have thousands of millions in freehold land and houses, co-operative societies, &c.
Of the enormous sums spent upon the War the bulk is expended in Great Britain, and goes, with comparatively unimportant deductions—the profits made by employers and middlemen from the coffers of the well-to-do into the pockets of the working masses in the form of wages. The Government has exhorted the people repeatedly to be thrifty, and it has enforced thrift upon the moneyed by very greatly increasing direct taxation. The well-todo are no doubt living more thriftily than they did before the War. The working masses are far more prosperous than they have ever been. Wages have risen enormously ; but unfortunately the masses save little. They spend their vastly increased earnings largely on worthless amusements and foolish luxuries. Owing to the wholesale transference of capital from the rich to the workers taxation should be remodelled. It is true that a century ago, in the war against France, practically the whole of the increased taxation was placed on the shoulders of the opulent. However, at that time wages remained low during the war. Hence the workers could not contribute much to its costs. Now the position is different. Millions which are urgently required for defence are wasted recklessly by the masses. Universal thrift is needed. The Government should, without delay, increase thrift among the masses partly by taxing worthless amusements, and partly by organising thrift among the workers. Here, also, individual attempts can achieve little. The workers must be taught that they should now put by a competence upon which they will receive unprecedentedly high interest, especially as great and widespread distress may follow the War. Employers throughout the country should be prevailed upon by the Government to give on the Government's behalf premiums for savings. All employers should be requested to induce their workers to put as large as possible a portion of their increased wages into War stock. Through the employers the Government should search out the workers in the factories and induce them to put by money week by week to their benefit and to that of the nation as a whole.
On November 2, 1915, Mr. Asquith stated in the House of Commons:
The financial position to-day is serious. The extent to which we here in this country are buying goods abroad in excess of our exports is more than £30,000,000 per month, against an average of about £11,000,000 per month before the War; and at the same time we are making advances to
Many of the reforms advocated in the following pages were introduced sinoe their publication in The Nineteenth Century review.
our Allies and to others, which were estimated by my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech to amount to a total during the current financial year, to say no more of what is to come, to £423,000,000. ...
This is a burden which, rich as we are, resourceful as we are, we cannot go on discharging unless there is on the part of the Government, as well as on the part of individuals, the most strict and stringent rule of economy, the avoidance of unnecessary expenditure, the curtailment of charges which under normal conditions we should think right and necessary, and, if I may use a homely expression, cutting our coat according to the cloth with which we have to make it. ... I would once more say with all the emphasis of which I am capable, that we cannot sustain the burden which this great War has laid upon us unless as individuals, as classes, as a community, and as a Government, we make and are prepared to make far greater sacrifices than we have hitherto done in the direction of retrenchment and economy
Mr. Asquith thus recommended on November 2, 1915, retrenchment and economy in the most emphatic language. He informed the nation that thrift and the avoidance of unnecessary expenditure was most necessary on the part of individuals and the nation as a whole. Yet the nation lives approximately as luxuriously as ever. The wellto-do, whose income has been greatly reduced by the War and by additional taxation, have curtailed their expenditure to some extent, but scarcely sufficiently, while the masses of the people spend far more on luxuries than they ever did before. Theatres, restaurants, music-halls, picture theatres, and public-houses are nightly crowded, and working men who are reaping a golden harvest purchase for their family gramophones, silk dresses and furs, pianos which are often only used for show, &c. Most people undoubtedly wish to save, but they spend very freely, perhaps not so much from self-indulgence as from misplaced kindness of heart. Men and women hesitate to reduce their expenditure on luxuries because such reduction would inflict injury on the providers of luxuries. The thousands of millions which will be required for the conduct of the War cannot be provided by saving the odd pence. They can be found only by the wholesale reduction of expenditure on luxuries, by putting the providers of the luxuries out of business. An able worker or business man can always adjust himself to changed circumstances. Dismissed servants will be able to find more useful work in shops and factories. Dismissed gardeners can use their experience in agriculture to better advantage to the nation. Manufacturers of luxuries and their workers, and shopkeepers who deal in luxuries, can change the character of their trade. It is impossible to carry on 'business as usual' and to provide the untold millions needed for the War.
If we compare Great Britain's imports of luxuries during the first seven months of 1914 when there was peace, with the first seven months of 1915 when she was at war, we find the following:
Imports during Seven Months up to July 31.
$ 797,492 455,041 109,336 298,101 1,693,206
Poultry and game
82,817 1,043,126 206,837
40,103 308,934 1,982,823 1,385,162
543,895 417,417 835,527
81,670 452,082 163,306