Editorial: The Boll Weevil Lets Us Down

But for the crazy social system under which goods are produced for sale at a profit and not for use, the human race would have cause to welcome bumper crops of its cultivated plants. Capitalism does not permit the matter to be viewed so simply. Because of the private interests of the owners of the means of life we witness the paradox of organisations being formed to restrict production and destroy goods in order to keep up prices, although millions of people are in need of the goods in question. During the periodic crises through which capitalism inevitably passes, when prices are forced down below a profitable level owing to the superabundance of stocks in relation to the demands of the market, it is quite a commonplace for statesmen and business men to pin their hopes for trade improvement on crop failures which will curtail the supply. The Boll Weevil which destroys the cotton crops has often come to the aid of merchants and speculators hoping for scarcity and rising prices, but in the United States this year the Boll Weevil has not done his best. Whether he was worried and put off his stroke by the confusing babble of advice of the politicians and economic experts, some saying “spend more” and others “spend less,” some saying “we must produce more,” others “we must cut down production,” or whether it is deliberate ca’-cannying provoked by agitators it is not possible to say with certainty. But the facts are plain. The Boll Weevil, after promising well earlier in the season, turned out to be a “jibber,” and has earned the merited disapproval of The Times. The “New York” correspondent (September 12th) writes as follows: —

“Commodity prices, after the recent advance, lost some ground last week, and the Stock Market was quick to reflect the change, particularly the sharp fall in raw cotton after publication of the Government’s estimate of the crop as on September 1. The estimate was virtually the same as that of a month before, but although it was about a million bales smaller than the generality of estimates in the trade it was still found disappointing. The boll weevil, it seemed, had done much less than was expected of him.”

Why not a campaign for bigger and better Boll Weevils? This is a job the scientists might attend to.

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