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50 Years Ago: Another Economic Blizzard?

So the bread lines and the soup kitchens have appeared again—in the United States and Canada.

It looks as if the slump that would never come again is now on its way. At least that is the impression one gets from statements by leading financiers, here and in America, and from articles that have appeared in London papers recently.

The Times for March the 4th, under the heading, “World Unemployment Survey,” gives figures of unemployment in different countries. In the United States in January the figure was 4,494,000. This does not include unemployment among the 30 million who are not covered by unemployment insurance. Since January there has been a considerable increase in unemployment. The Times gives the unemployment figure for Canada in January as 520,000. Here also the figure has increased since January.

The News Chronicle for February 28th contains an article on Detroit by Bruce Rothwell. From this article it is evident that the huge empty factories around Detroit, and the empty shops the present writer saw in Dearborn, when he was there last September, were the expression of something more than the shift of industry out of Detroit and the change-over to automation.

The News Chronicle writer has this to say:-

“Signs of the slump are everywhere and this is frightening America.
“For beyond this city millions more jobs depend on the car industry. One business in six is wholly concerned with it.
“Steel, rubber, glass, leather; they all slump when the assembly lines slow; and soon it spreads to us all.
“So Detroit, the centre of it, is harder hit to-day than in the ‘thirties.”

The writer states that there are 250,000 unemployed in Detroit now, and he tells of the soup kitchen run by the Capuchin monks which can only touch a tiny fragment of the thousands of hungry.

(From front page article by “Gilmac”, Socialist Standard, April 1958)