Saturday, August 4, 2018

By The Way (1918)

The By The Way column from the July 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

The penny sensations are ever on the alert for “stunts” with which to goad on the jaded worker. With ever-increasing rapidity suggestion follows suggestion as to how production may be intensified. When the over-worked slave threatens to cease work appeals are made to him to carry on for the sake of his brothers in the trenches. When it is a case of shrinking shipping then “every rivet counts,” so say our lords and masters. Quite recently the papers were playing off one set of workers against another in the matter of riveting (so easily are some of the hard-headed sons of toil “kidded") and at last Mr. J. Hill, of the Boilermakers' Society, issued a circular on the subject of these competitions, He says:
  Riveting has never been a sport, and in these times our members have never been more deadly earnest, and we shall not allow our members to be turned into gladiators to provide sport for the idle rich—a sport which it already having adverse effects, and is reducing the total output, besides undermining the good results which we have established for the co-operation and unification of our efforts in the national cause.—“Daily News," May 26th, 1918.
Evidently “National Service” only applies to the workers, seeing that these competitions afford opportunities to the ‘‘idle rich” to pass away the time which appears to hang heavily on their hands. What humbug it all is!

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Mr. Bonar Law recently announced that the Government had decided that the question of separation allowances should be investigated as early as possible. More remarkable still was the intimation that “he recognised that tbs hardship fell especially on women with children, and that there was a real case for further consideration in view of the changed circumstances as regards the cost of living.' So I should think, for no one can say that the Government has erred on the side of generosity in its treatment of the wives and children of “our gallant heroes."

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The preceding paragraph has more importance attaching to it, in spite of Food Controllers and their committees, and, yes, even a Labour Minister under whose direction they work, when viewed from the point of the purchasing-power of the soldiers’ wives’ slender resources. Only a few days ago I read of “cabbages at 7d. each, rhubarb at 1s. 6d. a bundle, and small round lettuces at 4d. were some of the prices that were being paid for vegetables in London.” Tucked away nicely in the middle of this item of news was the following interesting admission:
    In a week or two people will be getting enormous quantities of vegetables from their gardens and allotments. We’ve got to make every penny we can now, because there'll be precious little to make by and by. That was our experience last year. I’d rather let the stuff rot than not make a big profit. With labour so scarce it doesn’t pay me to handle it on any other lines.—“Daily News," June 10th, 1918.
There is a frank confession for you. And Mr. Clynes says profiteering has almost ceased. Perhaps he has another name for it.
The Scout.

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