Editorial: Felony Compounded
Another Government pledge has gone by the board. Agriculture has been decontrolled. There is no great outcry among the farmers, for very obvious reasons. In the first place a compromise is effected in their interests, and they are going to get some £15,000,000. The Government is bragging of having made a good bargain by compounding ; the farmers, beyond a little very weak eye-wash, make no complaint of loss: where, then, does the shoe pinch ?
It is simple: exactly where one who knows his way about in the fog would expect. It is the agricultural worker, of course, who is to feel the pinch.
For with the decontrol is, it seems, to be abolished the machinery for regulating the wages of the land workers. Hence the latter are to be thrown into the cockpit, like the rest of the workers, to fight out the question of wages in the good, old-fashioned way : with the raw’uns so to speak.
The farmers, therefore, besides getting rid of the irksome conditions of the late Agricultural Act, are freed from the restrictions on the movement of wages. By this they know that they will gain more than they will lose by the Government’s repudiation of their guarantees; hence they take it lying down.
The land workers’ side of the picture is not pleasant to look upon. The wonderful advance of machinery has made them superabundant, in spite of the ravages made in their ranks by the war. Already large numbers who left the land to work in the factories, having been thrown in the gutter to starve, are returning to the countrygide to clamour for jobs that do not exist. In addition, with the towns teeming with unemployed, there is no avenue of escape in that direction. So they are in a bad position indeed to offer effective resistance to the pending attack upon their wages.
To get back to the Government, it is very illuminating how one after the other they have stripped from the wage slaves the “favours” or concessions they conferred upon them when they had got the “wind up.” There is not much left now. It would not be a far step to the repudiation of all war pensions, and that would about complete the business. Perhaps we shall not have to wait long for that!