It pays to subsidize
Playing fields for the nation’s children. Pardon—the workers’ children. Now that’s sensible and benevolent, and costly, too—a million pounds, think of it. Surely our hard-faced masters must have repented, surely the land of Hope and Glory is about to materialise. It has been said of the Socialists that they are very distrustful men and women. They seem to have cultivated the method of the eternal why and wherefore. Yes, it does invariably happen that when highest hopes are raised, that here at last is “somebody that will do something,” that they search and supply the why and wherefore from their opponents’ own statement. How annoying. Hope deferred again. We are to have playing fields because :—
“No surer antidote to Bolshevism and discontent could be prescribed than a proper provision of playing fields for the Nation. . . . Games are cheaper than ill-health ; money spent on sport means money saved in hospitals. It may also mean money saved in the elimination of industrial disputes, and the hundred and one distractions which beset a C3 nation” (“Saturday Review,” June 4, 1927).
In vulgar parlance, it is money for jam. We do not object, of course, to the capitalists giving the workers’ children part of “our” country for open spaces for healthy recreation, it becomes to them a necessity owing to the growth of industrial centres, it is as necessary, as was at one time, giving the workers education, or the vote. On their own showing it is the cheapest method for them, and even that at the eighth of the cost of a single day’s war. There’s benevolence for you ! Despite all the reforms and the boasted benefits of civilisation, they cannot prevent the spread of conscious restlessness. Sanitation, trams, electricity, sports, cinemas, all fail to avert seething discontent. Wants and desires of the workers will continue to grow as a result of their increasing knowledge that they prepare for others a sumptuous feast, at which they are the locked out social outcasts.
(Socialist Standard, August 1927)