1920s >> 1929 >> no-294-february-1929

Editorial: The Good Time Coming !

This year; next year; sometime; never !

It is the duty of Bank Chairmen and Prime Ministers to make forecasts every year of the coming trade revival. They do this because it fills the mind of the unemployed with hope. This year Mr. Baldwin says: –

     We may reasonably look forward, without being called unduly optimistic, to a general expansion of trade in the country. (Daily Express, 21 December.)

Some people, remembering last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and so on, do not believe Mr. Baldwin. But those who believe and those who disbelieve, nearly all accept the assumption that if trade improved, then our problems would be solved. The Socialist does not accept this view. We point out that the workers are poor always, good trade or bad, and that the Capitalist class, whatever the state of trade, go on having a large and growing share of the wealth produced.

During the five years ended March 31st, 1927, less than 100,000 super-tax payers (90,000 in 1922/23 and 98,000 in 1926/27) had incomes totally over £500 millions a year. The total increased year by year from £516 millions to £568 millions.

The Tory says that unemployment would decline and wages rise if only we made more articles at home and imported less from abroad. The Liberals and most of the Labourites say that unemployment would go if we could only sell more English goods abroad. It is interesting to notice that during 1928, as compared with 1927, both of these things have happened. More goods have been sold abroad and less goods imported. Comparing the first eleven months of 1928 with the same period of 1927, we find that imports fell by £18,475,254 (1.7 per cent.) and exports increased by £11,281,897 (1.5 per cent.). (See “Economist,” December 15th.) Now let us look at the unemployment figures. The number of registered unemployed on November 28th, 1927, was 1,172,000, and on November 28th, 1928, 1,439,000. Observe, not a decrease, but an increase of 267,000! (“Ministry of Labour Gazette,” December, 1928.)

So much for Liberal, Labour and Conservative economic theories.

The facts are that an increase of exports and a decrease of imports may mean, but do not necessarily mean, that more wealth is being produced at home; and a decrease in foreign trade may coincide with an increase in production. Further, an increase in trade and an increase in production can both take place while, owing to the use of more machinery and improved methods, fewer workers are being employed. This is one of the effects of Capitalism, and the remedy is Socialism.