Editorial: The Wages of War
Now that the glamour of glory and the frenzy of patriotism have evaporated somewhat and the east wind of Imperialism is becoming less satisfying, the workers may well pause to consider the serious problem of impending starvation.
The price of food and fuel rises, and the wages bill falls. It is an anxious question, too, for our masters, and one that becomes more serious as the cost of living mounts higher and the volume of jingoism declines.
That our masters will voluntarily deal with the matter only the politically blind will for one moment imagine. The Government will rush to the assistance of the shipping shareholders, who have taken advantage of the crisis more, perhaps, than any others; they will recompense owners for the destruction of their interest producing property, if destroyed by enemy warships; they will stand by the big banks and the vested interest generally; but the workers, hit the hardest because they have no reserve to fall back upon—they get short shrift indeed.
If ever adequate steps be taken to restore the standard of living to the normal, they will not be taken until it is feared that the hungry populace will become dangerous and threaten internal trouble.
With all the optimism of the Press and the glib assurance that “our” food supply is safe while Britain rules the waves the facts point clearly to a period of starvation in store for those who, in the best of times, are always short of the necessaries of life.
The August returns showed a drop in the aggregate of wages of 30.5 per cent., and a further fall of 11.4 percent. was recorded in Sept. October returns a recovery of 6 per cent., while November wages are still 5.5 per cent. higher.
“After the sharp rise in the early days of August prices of fool fell until by Sept. 12th they are found to reach a level of about 10 per cent. above July. Since then prices have been again rising, being. at the beginning of December, 17 per cent. higher than the July level in towns and 15 per cent in the country.”