“How Long, O Lord, How Long !”

Seeing the number of strikes and lockouts that havo taken place during the past few years, coupled with the increased cost of living and the tendency of employment to become more casual, members of the working class might well ask themselves the above question. How long are they going to be nothing but hewers of wood and drawers of water for another class—content to receive as their portion the shoddiest of clothing, rabbit-hutch accommodation for shelter, and highly adulterated food stuffs ?

Can even the most simple-minded worker imagine members of the master class partaking of the newly discovered butter substitute, “nut margarine” commonly called “overweight” when they refresh themselves with their after­noon tea ? No, of course not ! The non-producers take care that they have none of these things.

A short while ago a report was issued by tie Bethnal Green Borough Council, stating how the only useful members of society were housed, and a few extracts are here appended :

“(A) Man, wife, and four children. Man a painter ; income 24s. per week, but not regular. Rent 6s. 6d., two rooms ; all sleep in one room.
“(B) Man, wife, and five children, three of adult age. Occupy one room and earn a precarious living by selling papers in the street. Rent 5s. 6d.
“(E) Man, wife, and five children, one over 12. Occupy two back rooms at 5s. 6d. per week. Man a labourer in cabinetmaker’s work­shop. Casual worker only ; earns 4d. per hour when at work.”

The list could be extended, but this is enough for the purpose. A report of the Olympia horse show (“Daily News,” June 17th, 1912) informs us how differently the master class look after their animals :

“Upwards of 900 horses are taking part in in the show, and the stabling of these has pre­sented some problems. For Mr. Vanderbilt’s coaching team a quartette of sumptuous boxes, with plushette curtains, silver name plates on each door, and a harness room in the centre with leaded lights has been provided. More imposing still are the stables erected for the accommodation of the 30 horses given as a birth­day present to little Miss Mona Dunn, the 9 year old daughter of a Canadian millionaire. Valu­able carved oak, which would excite the envy of a collector of the antique, has been used for the fronts of the long avenue of stalls, which is approached through a beautiful little garden and the courtyard of an old inn.”

The Medical Officer of Health for Finsbury recently issued his annual return, which has been described as a “tragedy of poverty, over­crowding, and ignorance.” We are told that in this Christian land :

“Into two houses in one district there is crowded the population of an English hamlet. Sixty-six people are herded together in ten rooms. Of human rookeries similar to these 141 came under the notice of the authorities during the year. Wives are compelled to work to maintain the home, and, according to Dr. A. E. Thomas, the Medical Officer, ‘in general it may be said that owing to the father’s unem­ployment, to the casual nature of his employ­ment, or owing to the small wages of the family, the mother has to resume work … in order to obtain nourishment for herself and the others. Even so, when they return to work, mothers may still be found who come home at meal times to breast feed their babies. Many of them are themselves underfed, ill, consumptive, . . . and for the mothers, brave and enduring, the struggle is a hard and severe one. The consequences to the baby are disastrous. It becomes ill, wastes, and eventually succumbs.’ ”

Here is food for reflection. While the pros­titute capitalist Press are mouthing about the continued “trade boom” and repeating month after month the fact that “our” exports and imports are increasing by leaps unparalled, the workers are languishing in ever increasing poverty. Well might they ask how the boom in trade affects them. Are they enabled to go shooting on the moors ? Can they avail them­selves of the opportunity afforded by modern science, and pay flying visits to the beauty spots of the world ?

No, these things are not for those of the wage-slave class. It is common knowledge that in thousands of cases even men in regular work are so poor that when they take their “annual outing” they are obliged to start paying into a fund for about three months before the day appointed, to provide the wherewithal for a few hours recreation.

To conclude, all members of the working class who desire a happy human life should organise with us for the overthrow of the present system of society—which means poverty and privation for the toilers and ease and luxury for the shirkers—and the establishment of a sane sys­tem in which all things produced will be for those who produce them.

S. W. T.

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