November 21, 1932 (17th Parliament, 4th Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth


Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

- My colleague has discussed the extent to which unemployment has grown in this country. I do not think anyone can doubt the seriousness of the situation. . The census figures:as at'June 1, 1931, show 471,668 unemployed, but this figure may have included some who were unemployed through sickness. However, I submit that it does not include those who were working for themselves or those who never had. jobs. There must also be added the large numbers of young people who have not as yet been absorbed into industry. I submit that there is no prospect of improvement in the immediate future. The indices of business conditions are not favourable. It is true the Prime Minister as a professional optimist, along with Mr.-Hoover, another professional optimist, may. tell us that everything is on the mend, but that viewpoint is not borne out by a careful study of business indices. I think we are safe in assuming that there is no sign of relief upon the horizon; indeed the primary causes of unemployment would seem to be permanent. I should like to call the attention of the house to a very suggestive article which appears in the New Outlook of November, 1932. This is an article by Wayne W. Parrish and is entitled "What is Technocracy?" Since there are certain hon. members who do not read these articles upon the economic situation, I propose to read a few extracts. The first is:
. The ancient miller of Athens or Rome ground out in a day, between his two crude milling stones, a barrel to a barrel and a half of indifferent (lour. A modern flour mill in Minneapolis produces 30,000 barrels a day per man with a much shorter day and a much better flour. But for whom?
A shoemaker of ancient Rome took five and a half days to make a pair of shoes. The 7,200 shoemakers in the shoemakers' guild of Roman days would make only 7,200 pairs of shoes in five and a half days. The same number of employees in a modern shoe plant in five and a half days would produce 595,000 pairs of shoes. But for whom?
The brickmalcers for over five thousand years never attained . on the average more than 450 bricks a day per man,-a day being over ten 53719-90
hours. A modern straightline continuous brick plant will produce over 400,000 bricks a day per man. . . .
A photograph of a modern steel rolling mill in full operation will show a large plant without' a human being on the floor. . . . Machines were recently installed which produce 2,500 to 2,600 cigarettes a minute, compared with the previous maximum of 500 to 60.0 cigarettes a minute. . . . A still more fantastic illustration is in incandescent lamp manufacture, where one man is doing today in one hour as much as it took him 9,000 hours to do only so short a time past as 1914. It required only a force of thirty-seven men six weeks to build this high-speed machine.: ... In pig 'iron production one man working one hour can do what it took him 650 hours to, accomplish fifty years ago. In agriculture one man can do in one hour what it required 3,000 hours for him to accomplish in 1S40. A still more striking example is a Milwaukee plant with its daily output capacity of 10.000 automobile chassis frames and 34 miles of pipe line with a total of 208 men in the plant. . . . Technocracy tells us that with what is known now about the application of technology, the adult population of this nation would have to work only four hours a day for four days a week to supply us with all our material needs.
If the statement of these technicians is at all correct, it is manifest that our present way of dealing with unemployment is nonsensical and that we must find some fundamental solution of this problem. I quote again:
The steam engine was introduced, electric power came into being; and within one hundred years we have multiplied the original output rate of the first, or human, engine by 9,000,000, as expressed in. a modern energy transversion unit! But most significant of all is the astounding fact that most of this advance, or 8.766,000 of the 9,000,000 increase, has come within the last thirty years. Is it any wonder that our ancient political system is hopelessly incompetent to furnish the rigorous and exacting technical control necessary to save our highly powered industrial system from collapse?. . . It is after sober, scientific review of such facts that our engineers report that we are faced with the threat of national bankruptcy and perhaps general chaos within eighteen months. . . .We have been attempting to
operate the delicate controls of a high-powered energy civilization with methods that were crude enough in the ox-cart days when almost every home was self-sufficient and independent. . . . We are faced with the problem of having to desert a system that has become obsolete and at the same time of designing a system to take its place.
I submit that the present relief policy is wholly inadequate, resulting as it does in hardship and demoralization. Indeed, I do not know that it can be said that the government has a policy on relief matters. It had when it came into office, and I think that policy can be summed up in three sentences uttered by the Prime Minister, as appear in

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