50 Years Ago: State Insurance

Just as with Labour Exchanges and Old Age Pensions, so with the latest dodge, State Insurance, it is a soporific. All along the line of Liberal legislation an examination shows that the benefit go to the employing class, not to the employed.


Lloyd George, at Birmingham, exposed the mockery of the claim that those measures are being introduced to benefit the working class. He said:


   “Take a brewer’s horse How well he is looked after—well fed, cared for and doctored. If he does not feel up to the mark he has got a guardian there specially looking after him. He says there is something the matter with his horse today. He is kept there, is doctored, until he is right. That is not merely humanity, it is good business.”



Just so. To keep the worker in a fit condition ensures a greater output, and the increased efficiency resulting from such condition will enable the employer to wring more profit out of his victim, for, while the labour-power may cost a little more, the return is certain to be greater.


A paper issued by the Government contains still more significant statements from German employers who have experienced the working of similar insurance schemes. . , .


From the “Chemical Industry” comes the statement that:

  “From the standpoint of the employers these laws are remunerative to the extent that the efficiency of the worker is increased, and without the insurance laws correspondingly higher wages would have to be paid.”



Just as Germany a few years ago recognised that in order to obtain the markets of the world they must have efficient labourers, so today, the British capitalists, ever behind, realise that to combat Germany they most economise, they must obtain a better quality of labour-power — if possible — without increasing its cost. Hence there is a welling-up of the milk of human kindness in the capitalist breast, and we get State Insurance and the like.


[From the
 Socialist Standard, July. 1911.]