A Socialist Survey

Lloyd George’s Budget certainly got the welcome he knew it would get from the “Labour” movement. The only feature to be regretted, from their point of view, is the forgetfulness of the Chancellor to acknowledge its source. Apart from that, it is hailed as being “on the right lines,” “a step on the way,” etc. Although Mr. Lloyd George doesn’t see his way clear to “relieve the working classes of the amount of taxation which they were called upon to bear” (vide Mr. Philip Snowden), it yet was comforting to know that a beginning was to be made in the way of doing something to relieve the heavy burden on local rates!.

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On somewhat similar lines is the election manifesto of Mr. Jas. Martin, Labour candidate for N.E. Derbyshire. He goes “straight for the abolition of food taxes.” He favours also the “nationalisation of the mines and railways, which would not only cheapen coal and travel, but [mark this] provide revenue for the Exchequer” !

As if that was not enough to stamp Mr. Martin as a full-blown Liberal, he proceeds to give us the full Liberal programme with all its trimmings. He believes in Free Trade, Home Rule, and Land Reform—in fact, all that a respectable Liberal stands for. Strangely enough, he is opposed by another Liberal candidate. This, I believe, is due to some misunderstanding which has caused a split in the “Progressive forces.” Mr. Martin’s candidature is endorsed by the Miners’ Federation and the Labour Party. Though he was standing with the assent of the Derbyshire Miners’ Association, yet a large proportion of delegates at the adoption of the orthodox Liberal were members of that body. I don’t blame them : they couldn’t tell t’other from which.

The Labour election agent, Mr. A. Peters, declares that the miners have spent £10,000 within the last few years in order to maintain their position in the county. Can you wonder ?

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One thing stands out clear in the diverse reports that reach us concerning the trouble in Mexico. That is that both General Huerta and General Carranza have given assurances that oil wells shall be protected during the fighting. Why ? Because these wells are chiefly the cause of the trouble. Ask Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Trust. Ask any of the greedy sharks in this country whose eyes are glued on Mexico. Huerta, representing Mexican interests, wants to preserve the oil wells for Mexico ; Carranza, representing British and American capitalists, wants them for his masters.

Mexico is one of the richest mineral countries in the world—that is why all the world wants it. When oil was discovered during the Diaz regime, it was not long before the far-off nostrils of the capitalist wolves scanted it. Then commenced the trouble. Diaz wouldn’t “sell out,” so means were adopted to make him “get out.” His successor looks like traversing the same road. Thus are the “rights” of capital vindicated.

Smug respectability, sitting at home in England, wonders what it is all about. “Why the devil don’t these fellows set to work instead of fighting each other, and let us earn our dividends ? This sort of thing lowers the rate, don’t you know !”

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Yes, we know. In Colorado, for instance, it is lowering the rate—of the population. They call it “Rockefeller’s war.” It is a typical industrial war—all one-sided. The capitalists have the full forces of the country at their disposal. The miners—only dogged determination and what few arms they are able to get hold of. Men, women, and children have been shot or sabred that shareholders may have their dividends. Women and children, have had to tramp the streets because their homes had been burned over their heads, in order that investors should have a “fair return” on their capital. And we are told there is no class war !

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May Day in this country seems to have resolved itself into a sort of rounding-up of recalcitrant and other sheep, into the Labour fold. As usual, the Labour Party were out in full force. Everywhere the same note was struck—emphasis on the importance of joining a trade union, electing leaders, sending them to Parliament, but, above all, being “loyal” to them. You see, the more members the bigger the unions ; the bigger the unions the more “leaders” required, and incidentally, the more soft jobs for the professional spongers.

We, on the other hand, don’t believe in making a hullaballoo once every twelve months. Instead, we engage in a steady, persistent propaganda of Socialist principles on every day in the year. One can understand these job-hunters not liking us and our work. Whereas they believe in the retention of the capitalist system, we work for its abolition. Its abolition would put them out of business.

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Old Age Pensions have proved a grand thing—for the capitalists. Recent returns relating to pauperism in England and Wales issued -by the Local Government Board show that since 1909 there has been a decrease of more than 200,000. That this is due in a large measure to the introduction of Old Age Pensions is proved by the fact that in 1906 the number of paupers over 70 years of age was 229,474, whereas at the beginning of 1913 the number had fallen to 56,770.

This means that whilst formerly it just about 13s. 8d. per head to keep paupers inside a workhouse, they can now get them completely off their hands for the modest sum of five shillings. On this the pensioners have to subsist as best they can—usually with assistance from friends and relations, thus contributing directly to the further impoverishment of those who are already poor.

Old Age Pensions having fulfilled their mission of getting the aged people off the hands of the capitalists, the Poor Law authorities are now looking round for some device to rid themselves of those under 70. The Lambeth Board of Guardians have, so far, been the most successful. The experiment they tried was to send the inmates to look for work ! All they had to do was to go out and get a job, come back for the missus and kids, and—there you are ! Goodbye ! Simple, isn’t it ? At this rate there soon won’t be any Poor Law for Mr. Sidney Webb to worry about.

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Here is an example of the effect the above system has upon people who try to remain outside the Poor Law. It was brought to light at a Westminster inquest recently, and showed the hopeless struggle of an aged couple who tried to live on 12s. a week, of which 4s. 6d. had to go for rent. The victim of this hellish system was Mary Ann Russell, aged 72, of Pimlico, who was found with her throat cut.

Her husband, a grey-haired labourer of 67, said he had been out of work for thirteen weeks, and his wife had been much depressed in consequence. Their income consisted of 7s. from his National Insurance payments (which expired the week after the inquest) and 5s. her Old Age Pension. They owed rent, and it was more than the old ladv could face. “We lived very happily together, sir,” said the old man, with tears streaming down his face, “but it’s too much to bear.”


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