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THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Issue 15674, 12 December 1914
THE LABOR MOVEMENT
- [By WrcRAN.] cp ' Brief c&ntribut'.one on matters with v reference to the Labor Movement are ~ invited. i(' ' WAR AS RAILWAY REFORMER. For some vears tho British Labor party 5" have been agitating for the nationalisation S of railways. Now they point to the action of the Government in taking over the ron- ; ■ trol of tho railwava during the war. They V contend that if the Government can run the railways more efficiently in a tune ol V umunal stress they can also do it in normal times. A writer in the Daily Uti- ■ am* ol October 26 sums the matter up thus t “Since tho war made it vital to the nation that the network of British railways should be put to the utmost possible use, the systems hitherto controlled by , single companies, or the later competing combinations, have been operated under a national executive, with a member of the Government ut its head. At one stroke, as it were, the systems passed from haphazard private management to the position of a State system—and the change 'was made in the name and cause of effi- ’ deucy. It has been impossible, ot course, in a time of world-stress, to do niore than take tho machinery existing, as it has been ... built up by the individual companies, each seeking its own profit, and make tho best of it. The point is that a change, which has been described as fantastic, impossible, r or too costly, was effected at a moments 1 notice as an urgent necessity; that the carrying capacity of the system was thereby increased, so that the movements of large bodies of troops and their heavy equipment have been possible with a minimum of inconvenience to the ordinary traffic. Had the war occurred, In tact, but a year or two since, the Royal Commission on Railways might have been ■ saved the laborious task of piling up evidence which a single catastrophe has ■- clinched without argument. In the light of what has occurred, it soems that the Railway Nationalisation Society was merely proving the obvious in the me- ‘ morandnm which it submitted to the Commission. and which lias now been published by the society as a pamphlet. Yet the publication is perhaps necessary. The war over, the old vested interests will no doubt make a final fight, not for the rights • of unlimited competition—the companies ■have already found out the disadvantages of that from their own point of view—but for the right to a monopoly controlled by themselves through one gigantic trust. It will then be worth while for the public m remember some of the facts now set forth in this memorandum. Perhaps the inert convincing argument it contains is in its tablets of comparative fares. In everv case, not only docs the United Kingdom* stand at the head—the dearest—of the table, but it is in a proud eminence indeed. It must be remembered that the United States alone among the other considerable nations has remained, like Great > Britain, devoted to the theory of private ownership, and even there a strong demand for nationalisation has sprung np. With this in mind we can set out figures that tell their own story; —Twelve Miles.— Single. Return. >. d. s. d. United Kingdom ... 1 0 18 • Denmark 0 61 I li Belgium 0 0 Germany 0 7 12 Do. (4th class) ... 0 41 0 9 —lB4 Miles (London to Manchester). — 1 : - Single. Fteturn. s. d. s. d. United Kingdom ... 15 5j 50 11 Denmark 7 2 14 4 Belgium 9 0 14 2 Germany ... 19 0 29 0 Do. 4th class) ... 511 11 10 Nothing specially uootl, we suppose, can come out of Germany at the moment, but 'the fact remains that it has been possible bv almost any train cm any day in Germany to make a journey equivalent to that from London to Brighton and back for 3s 2d, which compares favorably with tho special excursion rate by certain trains only twice a week of 3s, as we know it in England. The goods rates supply an almost stronger argument in face of the jiraazing complexity of the varying rates ■ .*in this country and tho opportunities they give for plundering the commercial community. It is impossible to summarise the many points in the case for nationalisation in less spiace than the memorandum itself, but the governing principle is easy to grasp. A State system will place railways where they are’wanted to serve public* needs. and compensate itself for any fleeting loss of profits by tho largo economies in the elimination of wasteful competition. A few hundred ornamental directors may find themselves on the retired list, but’the public will have travelling and ’ transit facilities of a kind and at a price of which it can only as yet dream hopefully.” * * * * * * * WAR LESSONS. The Bishop of Lichfield, speaking at Guildford (England) on ‘ The War and Our Social Duty.’ said: “ Tho old rule that • those may take who have the oower and those should keep wo can’ underlay war between nation and nation ■ and the trouble in our social and industrial life at 1 ionic. What wo talked of the miseries and appalling evils of the war we must not forget there were miseries and appalling evils—not- so striking and dramatic, but still very real—going on all the time. What about the miserable houses, fatal to moral and physical health, which were ;■ still allowed to exist in town and country? What about the sweating of women's and children's labor, which, in spite of some improvement, still wont on? What of the hundred and one troubles and miseries that came about when- on tho one hand, there was senseless and irresponsible luxury, and on the other squalid and miserable destitution? Wc had got a war on two fronts - —the war again.-t the Germans, which was ■a righteous war, end a. war against preventable evils, against squalid and miserable poverty and destitution. He did not tlihik there was ever a lime when there was a better promise of industrial peace, and of a real, intelligent, and sympathetic imdeivtanaing of our social evils than the present. 'Wc wove one nation. Our discords bad been brought into tune, and the rifts in our common life closed up. The voice of party strife was silenced, and men of different classes were caring about and understanding one another os they seldom have done before. He could not help hoping that this good state of things uon'd last, and that in .-oir.e way men would not be mere earners of wage, but •would in some sort or co-operative < ndeavor have a sense of partnership in the work which they, with the employers, wore undertaking. What they looked for was the time u-h.Mi, instead of capitalists saying what was tho least they could possibly give to Labor, and Labor what was the most thev could 'screw out of capitalists, the question would he: “What try a just distribution of profits as between man and ma<n?” We were retting a better tense of the value of things. We were beginning to see that luxury was shameful, and that to live an idle, purposeless life was altogether unworthy of an Englishman or Ei glishworn,in. As for waste of life, we were* learning* that the wasted Uvea were not those so freely and gloriously sacrificed for their nmnlrv bv land or sea, but the Pvev, ihatl were spent aimlessly, foolishly, without any single good, purpose in view, and of utter forgetfulness of God.” ■ * # » * * •» * (J OM PETITION. Sir Oliver Lodge, one of the British scientists who recently visited Australia, speaking on the above subject, said;—“l wish to maintain that many kinds of oom- : > petition, far from benefiting us or increasing our wealth, are among the curses of civilisation, and that substantial progress will bo impossible till they are got rid of. That competition increases our true wealth, in the sense ol weal or well-being. I suppose, lew would be hardy enough to maintain''; but it is questionable whether it • even conduces to material prosperity—'such prosperity as the economists them- “ selves* contemplate. What i a the good to ■ me that I can buy a hat in any one of 20 - shops in the town; I don’t want 20 hats. I don’t want to be bothered with a great «e----of hats. One pod hato is enough. I . don’t moan that it might not have local ;:-• a-.—of distribution, jjiafc 94 it might teg;-*’' • •
have carts, but one system of management is enough, and by it hate oould be sold at a fair price When I buy a a Jpe of aoap or & piJi, why should 1 pay for * 3Stfbci* of posters on tramcais uid hoardings, or —incomparably worst —for large boards set up in country meadows, emphasising its merits! Pay for them I certainly must, since it can hardly be held that someone sets up these boards from philanthropic motives, being really anxious that you should only use the very best, and putting himself to great expense to let you know which it is. Boards disfiguring the landscape along railway lines are growing more numerous. Can it be that anyone buys the products thus detestably obtruded? At one of the leading theatres of Birmingham, the audience is similarly insulted, by a lantern display of advertisements on a curtain daring an interval between the acts. It is amazing that people stand it. All advertisements, all cadging and touting and commercial travelling, must be paid for by the consumer. Everything must be paid for by him, and part of this everything is due to competition." ******* THE LIVING WAGE. Professor Bartleb places his argument for a living wage on a plane of demonstration in equity. Ho takes it for granted that it is a great law of justice, from which there is no appeal, that men must do to others what, under like conditions, they would regard as right to bo done to themselves. If this bo conceded, as it is not easy to conceive of its,icing disputed, then the rest follows. Every living man has a right to the life ho possesses, and with the means of sustaining that life. But that docs not end the question. What sort of life is he entitled to? There is the dog's life—the habitant of the kennel munching a bone. In times of slavery, the slave master, spurred by self-interest, not philanthropy, kept his slaves fit to do the greatest tasks of which they were capable. He gave them such creature comforts as maintained their bodies in good health. But that docs not satisfy the justice which society owes to its members. A man’s a man for a' that, and as a man he must have such a wage ae will enable bim to live a hnman life, with no indignity to the idea of his manhood.—Melbourne ‘Age.’
THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Issue 15674, 12 December 1914
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