The Forum: Rates and Taxes again

J. HURLE (Walthamstow)—

(1) Your quotation from Philip Snowden only adds to the mass of evidence proving him to be a charlatan. Whilst here he states that the “food taxes” are a pressing burden on the workers, he enthusia­stically referred to Lloyd George’s 1909 Budget as “my Budget.” Apart from this, his state­ment is worthless, as food prices are governed, like those of all other commodities, by the amount of labour embodied in the articles, mo­dified by supply and demand.

(2) The recent Board of Trade Report is elo­quent of the great rise in prices, even though, as contemporary politics show, taxes have been continuously reduced in the same period.

(3) Your quotation from Prof. Ashley’s “Eco­nomic History of England” is certainly useful evidence of the truth of our position, and as you say, serves to show the bourgeois nature of the Labour Party’s agitation.

(4) Competition would doubtless reduce the price of tea if the tax was removed, and it is quite true that an inflated price and profit in the tea industry would attract more capital, with the inevitable result of over-supply and consequent reduction in price.

(5) The Railway Companies’ 4 per cent. in­crease in goods traffic rates subsequent to the strike proves rather than disposes of our state­ment. Prior to the strike the railway companies were sternly opposed to any increase of wages, but when they made a tardy and well-manipu­lated “concession,” they immediately demanded Parliamentary sanction, for an increase in. freight rates. In other words the increased wages bill was the excuse and not the reason.

The workers are not interested in freight rates, as can be verified by recalling the heated attack by manufacturers in Parliament upon the Railway Rates Bill. They felt the pinch, hence they yelped.

(6) Your extract from “Justice” is quite contrary to the position maintained by E. Belfort Bax and H. Quelch in the “Socialist Cate­chism” and elsewhere : viz., that rates are of interest to the propertied class alone. It illus­trates the confusion that is created by the B.S.P. The idea that every increase can be “passed on” to the workers is ridiculous. The workers buy back but one-third of their produce, hence even the “pass on” theory, if there were anything in it, would affect the masters most.

(7) Tattler’s advice to a correspondent that the incidence of taxes is of little importance to our class is, after the cry about the railway rates in “Justice,” just about the limit. Mystifica­tion, not education, is evidently their policy.

A. K.

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