THE LABOR COUNCIL’S MANIFESTO.
TO THE EDITOR. Sir,—lt is a regrettable fact that ever since the maritime strike in 1891 the various manifestoes issued by the Labor Council appealing to the electors for support •have systematically ignored the most elementary teaching of economic science. The result, of this has been that, after a lapse of 25 years. Labor to-day is in a political muddle. So absurd are some of the demands that the workers, who constitute about 75 per cent, of the electors, and who consequently could easily return a Labor representative for every constituency in New Zealand, have at every election had to choose between two evils, with the result that the workers are practically unrepresented in Parliament. And yet almost every individual one meets is morally conscious that there is something wrong with our system of distribution. This singular situation arises from the want of economic knowledge, not one individual in a thousand having any knowledge of economic law, and without this knowledge it is impossible to solve the “Labor problem.” It must be obvious that before at flawcan be remedied it must first be located, and until this is done no ono is able to judge whether the remedy proposed is a cure for the flaw. Briefly put, the grievance of the workers arises primarily from the custom which regulates the local price of all raw material. This is regulated by the prices ruling in the London market, and give rise to the opportunity of speculation,. which, in turn, causes great trouble to manufacturers, who require the raw material. Great judgment is, however, required in detecting the speculator. Every buyer of raw material must of necessity be a capitalist, but every buyer is not of necessity a speculator, and the speculator only is the man who does the damage. The great difficulty which exists in discriminating between the capitalist and the speculator has caused the worker to assume that the capitalist is his natural enemy. But this is an absurd fallacy. Tho real opponent of the workers is the speculator. This individual buys the raw material, not with a view of converting it into finished products, but with the object of making a profit upon the transaction It is distinguishable from the merchant, whose business is to discover the market where commodities are plentiful and cheap, and bringing them to the locality where they are scarce and dear, and by this act reduces the price to every consumer, thus conferring a benefit to the community. The speculator, by his actions, confers no benefit upon anybody. He is not a manufacturer, therefore no factor in production. He creates no wealth. All he does is to force the community to pay a higher price, and thus 'enrich'himself at the community’s expense. AH this is so well known to eyery M.P. that when the war broke out not a single voice was raised against the Act fixing the price of food. Parliament, however, showed no economic knowledge of how to deal with the question, and this has given rise to the difficulties which now are sought to be attributed to the difference between tho small and the large flourmills. The fallacy of the Government’s latest proposal to take over one or two of the smaller mills, iu order to find out the cost of producing a ton of flour is seen when we remember that the trouble arose not from the flour-millers charging more for producing a ton of flour, but on account of the speculator in grain charging more for wheat. It is therefore plain what the Government should have done was to have adhered to their original proclamation decreeing the prices ruling on the Ist of August the maximum price on all commodities then in stock, with the further proviso that all subsequent prices be determined by the cost of production, instead of by being determined by supply and demand. This would effectively cut out the speculator. 1 ajn aware that there are other aspects which require to be explained, but space prevents me from dealing with them; but intending candidates for parliamentary honors will no doubt enlighten the electors on this important subject.—l am, etc., W. SIVEUTSEK. October 19.
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THE LABOR COUNCIL’S MANIFESTO., Evening Star, Issue 15627, 19 October 1914
THE LABOR COUNCIL’S MANIFESTO. Evening Star, Issue 15627, 19 October 1914
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