Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY, JULY 12, 1921. DRIFTING TO THE TOWNS.
the common, daily task, the ''chores" which are always awaiting their turn. If this drudgery, this monotony of little things which must be done, can be lightened then we shall have gone a fair way to stemming the drift of population. The application of electrical power to the farm presents many laboursaving • devices to shorten and make easy the daily round. Hydro-electricity will commence its rural mission m the Ashburton County next year; we look for great results from its application to our great rural industry.
One of the . most striking .features m the provisional census returns is the drift of population [towards the towns. Thus the four cities of the Dominion gained mo.3 people m the last ! five years than all the rest of the ' country — rural areas and secondary and small towns combined. The problem of securing a more effective distribution of population between town and country at once presents itself. But before proceeding m that direction, !it is as well to note that this : same problem is vexing almost all civilised countries, the ques- , tion being a vital one m the politics of Australia, Great* Britain, ;the United States and Germany through its reflex on land tenure | policy. The tendency being so ' general leads to an attempt at explanation. In the earliest .times, everybody, Adam and Eve m fact, lived oh the land. Gradually the process of extracting its wealth from the soil , was improved so that a, smaller proportion of. the people had to stay upon it. i Improvements m the last century have .Been rapid and now fewer people axe , engaged, m 1 producing ;food and raw materials ; for clothes and mores are engaged :in providing breakfast • foods, adornments, booksy amusements, ! asphalt paths and works of art. It may beVi said, then' V' that the measure of a Country'scry^lisatioir (> is the ' proportiqn> of people engaged 'yin primary production. If all are on the land, it is low and vice versa, if such a case can be imagined. All that is very well lin theory, but it is. known that the strength of the 7 nation's man- ' • hood is recruited from the land workers and shepherds and not from the match-box makers and ■ the creators of paper-soled boots. .Therefore it is necessary, if a ' j country's strength is to be main- ! tamed and her vitality renewed to keep pace with the development of "grey matter," that a goodly proportion of her people should remain on the land. And at present that proportion is being too rapidly reduced — the man on the land is too ready to become the man on the woodblocked street. How is this tendency to be kept m reasonable check? The country has many ! advantages to strengthen its ap- : peal — there is "free life, fresh ! air," the open spaces, a freedom i from the complexity and nervestrain of the city. But against' i Ms, there is the difficulty of goin,;; on the land m an independent position — the "free life" is something of a myth without the capital to acquire a freehold and -stock it. Here is the first remedy, ■increase the opportunities of go■fcc on the land and, next, sthe number of opporby closer settlement. HMtaMflktttadll itself prove the the loneliness of the lack dMttgial,