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it would be of the greatest importance to circulate this programme at once in the villages.
It is quite certain that every Russian—even the poorest of the peasants—is interested in the destruction of the secular political yoke to which all Russia is harnessed. But the destruction of that yoke, if it has to be done in reality, and not on paper only, is an immense work, which cannot be accomplished unless all classes of society, and especially the toiling classes, join in it. Autocracy has its outgrowths in every village. It is even probable that no progress in the overthrow of that institution will be made so long as the peasant masses do not bring their insurrections to bear upon the decisions of the present rulers. They must be told, therefore, frankly and openly by the educated classes, what the intentions of the latter are concerning the great problem which is now at this very moment facing millions of Russian peasants : ‘How to live till the next crop?' Let us hope, therefore, that those who have started the present agitation with so much energy will also see that they must tell the ninety million Russian peasants the improvements in the economical conditions of the toiling masses which they can expect under the new régime, in addition to the acquisition of political rights.
DEALING WITH THE UNEMPLOYED
A HINT FROM THE PAST
What shall we do with the Unemployed ? The question is no new one. So familiar was the spectacle of men standing idle in the market-place of Jerusalem 2000 years ago because no man had hired them that Jesus used it for one of his most striking illustrations. The prophetic books of the Old Testament teem with references to something suspiciously like an unemployed problem as having existed some thousands of years before the coming of Christ, and now, at the beginning of the twentieth century of the Christian era, it is still with us in all its pathetic fulness. Statesmen like the late Lord Salisbury and the Right Hon. John Morley have pictured in moving language the pathos of the lonely figure who, moving in the midst of wealth which his labour has assisted to create, begs in vain for some 'brother of the earth to give him leave to toil.' Strange as it may appear, these men ask nothing more than an opportunity to work for a living. They lack food and clothing and shelter for themselves and their children; they have the skill and the strength and the will to produce all these, but in all our wondrous civilisation no man has yet been found to tell us how capable honest men may be assured of a livelihood in return for their work. Statesmen and municipal councillors are faced from time to time with this strange problem, and many of them, like Mr. Morley, have given up in despair even the attempt to find any solution. They shelter themselves behind the comfortable thought that the matter is not one with which the State can, or should, interfere. Fortunately, this counsel of desolation is beginning to give way before the assaults of men who refuse to be bound by the traditions of a school of thought which served its day, but which is now hopelessly out of date.
During the reign of Henry the Eighth 72,000 sturdy beggars for whom no work could be found were, said, hanged, because no one could think of any other method of dealing with them. Deprived of the land upon which they had been accustomed to depend for their living, thieving and begging were the only methods left them of obtaining food, and as it was no one's affair to find them work the
halter was the quickest way of getting rid of them. We have travelled a long way since then in the matter of civic responsibility, but many a sturdy knave would still find the halter or its modern equivalent his best friend.
The total number unemployed cannot be accurately given, but that it is very large the numerous agencies and activities now at work to cope with the distress bear only too convincing testimony. Ministers of the Crown do not readily commit themselves to an acknowledgment that something in the nature of a national crisis, due to bad trade, is upon us. This, however, is what Mr. Walter Long, as representing the Government, has done by his sympathetic action in calling into being new machinery for dealing with the distress, and Royalty itself has countenanced his efforts by subscribing to the London fund which Mr. Long has initiated. I estimate the minimum number of unemployed during this month to be 700,000. They are men and women of various trades and callings, but at least two-thirds of them are labourers, used to rough, heavy outdoor work, which simplifies considerably the problem of finding them suitable employment. This figure is reached by deducting from the total number of wage-earners those trades not specially affected by the depression: to wit, agricultural labourers, textile workers, those engaged in the carrying and transit service, miners and domestics. Many of these, particularly colliers, shoemakers, and hatters, are working short time, but not being totally unemployed I leave them out of my calculation. The remainder number roughly ten millions, and of these I reckon an average of 7 per cent. as being out-ofwork from causes for which they are not personally responsible. Allowing for women and children, this will represent over two million persons. The Labour Department of the Board of Trade reports that during November the unemployed in the unions which pay out-ofwork benefit, and which represent mostly the higher-paid, skilled artisan class, averaged 7 per cent., and the proportion in the unskilled trades is always higher than in the skilled. Seven per cent. is thus a very moderate estimate. Some of these, such as painters, are season trades, and are always affected during the winter months; but nine-tenths of the total are idle because their trade is slack, and not from seasonal causes. It is a very remarkable fact, and one which has not been satisfactorily explained, that the over-sea trade, imports and exports alike, shows a healthy increase for the first eleven months of the year despite the prevailing gloom in the labour market. It has been stated publicly by a writer who poses as an authority on economics that the 7 per cent. reported as unemployed by the hundred biggest trade unions, as published in the Labour Gazette, comprise 'trade unionists incapacitated from all causes, including sickness, accidents, strikes, lock-outs, seasonal influences, drink, &c. This statement, with the exception of the reference to seasonal causes, is wholly misleading. The 7 per cent. represent only those members of the trade unions who have been dismissed owing to bad trade. Those receiving strike or lock-out pay, or sick or accident benefit, are all classed under separate headings and are shown on the returns distinct and apart from the unemployed. The unemployed are those who, being fit for work, have been discharged for causes for which they were not personally responsible: that is to say, slackness of trade.
In addition to those totally unemployed, as stated above, there are the casually employed, such as dockers and others. Of the latter the over-supply is seldom less than one-third of the effective demand. At the London Docks there are during these winter months 20,000 workmen always available, whereas the number at work on any one day varies between ten and fifteen thousand. Some skilled trades are affected in much the same way, although in their case it happens that the factory or shop is put on short time; so that, although all the workers may be in employment, their earnings may be only one-half, or even less, their nominal wages. These, however, do not figure in the unemployed returns, although they are no whit better off than those unemployed members of a trade union who receive 128. or 148. per week as out-of-work pay. Dockers are a class for whom special provision should be made. A dozen years ago I was brought into close contact with their special difficulty owing to my connection with West Ham, the most distressed portion of the kingdom then, as now. My suggestion then was that the Directors of the Docks should acquire an estate of ten or twelve thousand acres in Essex, to be let out in allotments to the better class men, and worked on the co-operative principle. The casual labourers might by this means be kept fully employed when not required at the docks, but would be available when needed there. The effect upon the physique and morale of the men of some such method of organising their work would be very great, and hundreds who would otherwise sink to the irreclaimable level would be kept in the ranks of the self-supporting respectable working class. I still adhere to this suggestion as being workable and practicable.
To a better understanding of what follows one or two other facts require to be borne in mind. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman recently made himself responsible for giving currency to the statement that some twelve millions of people are always on the borderline which separates poverty from starvation. They are in this condition because the wages they receive when fully employed and during a period of prosperous trade will not maintain them in the same standard of physical efficiency as we provide for our paupers. It is this fact which makes it so difficult to tide the masses over a period of bad trade. These people, who form 28 per cent. of the working-class population, are always at close grips with poverty and bave no resources upon which they can fall back when overtaken by sickness, accident, or unemployment. How can they when their wages, even when fully employed, leave no margin for saving, do not, in fact, provide them with a sufficiency of the things needful for a healthy existence ? Comforts and luxuries are beyond their reach, or, if indulged in, are purchased at the expense of some of the necessaries of life. They constitute a great reservoir of poverty, which on the slightest pressure of bad times overflows into the bog of destitution. Their condition is largely the outcome of the perpetual congestion of the labour market in the lower-paid occupations, a condition which even the drain of 250,000 men for South Africa scarcely appreciably affected. No outline of the unemployed difficulty would be complete which did not take account of this hapless mass of almost unrelieved misery. With them also the question is how to find work which will yield them a decent living. Unless we can reduce the number of those who compete for jobs which will not bring them in even paupers' fare when obtained, there cannot be any hope of ever improving their lot. The inexorable laws of supply and demand operate in the lower strata of society with unbridled ferocity, and it is only by reducing the supply of workers for these lower-grade callings that we can ever hope to improve their condition, either physically or morally. Unless, therefore, we resort to the hanging expedient, we are under the necessity of enlarging the area of employment and absorbing the permanently surplus labour supply which alone is responsible for keeping one-third of the population on the borderland which separates poverty from starvation.
Before proceeding to a consideration of the powers possessed by various authorities for dealing with the unemployed and of amendments thereto, I propose briefly to outline the scope of the voluntary agencies for dealing with distress already at work. First in the order of importance come the Trade Unions. In nearly all the Unions of skilled artisans provision is made for out-of-work benefit being paid from the funds. The sum paid weekly to members out of work depends upon the amount of the contribution paid when in work, and varies from 58. to 158. per week. As a rule, out-of-work benefit is only paid for a limited number of weeks, ranging from twelve to twenty-six, and is intended to tide members over the period which must elapse between the loss of one job and the finding of another.
In this connection it is of great value to the members, but falls woefully short of meeting the necessities of the case when a period of trade depression lasting two or three years throws thousands out of employment.
So long as out-of-work benefit continues there is a certainty that money for the rent will be forthcoming and the home kept together, but sooner or later the benefit limit expires, and with it the last resource is gone.
VOL, LVII-No. 335