Not that I know of. Is it any wonder that people are asking why this should be, why they should not be permitted to enjoy these blessings? I contend it is ridiculous for anyone to-day to maintain that we are living in an age of scarcity. The mover of the resolution has given us plenty of evidence as to the extent to which goods can be produced to-day. Are not all human beings entitled to the blessings which have been bestowed upon man? We call ourselves Christians, but if I know anything about Christianity, it is not Christianity to act as we have been acting. Unless we remove this blot from civilization we will lower ourselves to the point where we shall have to admit that we are hypocrites, we shall have to consider ourselves as nothing less than heathens.
After five or six years of experimenting with palliatives, I believe the time has come when we should begin to formulate a permanent solution of the unemployment situation. As the mover of the resolution points out, unemployment is a permanent problem and is on the increase. The best brains in the country are endeavouring to-day to eliminate employment; when a manufacturer says that he is reducing costs he means that he is eliminating labour. We know that industry never can absorb all the people in need of active employment. The object of the resolution is to provide employment. I agree with the mover that the construction of public works is right and proper and we all know that a great deal can be done in this connection, but I do not agree with the idea of constructing public works just for the sake of creating work.
I believe we have arrived in our economic and industrial history at a stage at which we shall have to change our ideas with respect to many matters. Many statements are taken as axiomatic which are not so. It is a fallacious argument to maintain that the economic system is failing because it does not provide employment. The purpose of an economic system is not to provide work, but to provide and distribute goods and services up to the consuming capacity of the public. Considered from this point of view, the perfect economic system would be one which necessitated no employment at all; it would be
one by which all the goods and services required by individuals would be dropped into their laps just as a banana drops from the tree or the sunshine pours down in the morning.
I am not suggesting that provision of employment is not desirable, but provision of employment is not fundamental to an economic system. To illustrate a little further what I mean by this, I should like to give a definition of "work." When considered from the economic standpoint "work" is really a very ambiguous term. If we define "work" as being an involuntary or forced activity, we have still to distinguish between activity forced upon man by nature and activity forced upon man by other men. There is the work forced on man by nature-the work God referred to when He told Adam that, outside of Paradise, nature would yield him bread only in the sweat of his brow. There are the slave owners and bankers, for example, who from their high thrones declare that man shall not eat, not without nature's consent but without their consent. Work forced upon man by nature is natural and dignified and necessary, whereas work forced upon man by men is artificial, unnecessary and degrading.
Ever since the history of man began he has been endeavouring to free himself from both kinds of work. Freedom from servile labour may be defined as liberty; freedom from nature forced labour may be defined as progress. Man has always striven individually for liberty and collectively for progress. Collectively man has attained a degree of progress beyond his wildest dreams and many statistics have been quoted to substantiate that fact. But tragically enough, just at the very moment when the state of progress warrants a wider extension of individual liberty than any community has ever enjoyed, the world is faced with the threat, backed by the sovereign power of private credit control, of an ever increasing number of individuals being forced into artificial, manmade servitude. That is exactly the position we find ourselves in to-day. The condition of progress to-day warrants a leisure slate, that is, a condition of economically guaranteed voluntary activity. The leisure state with all its cultural possibilities lies at our very door. Of course I quite realize that it is somewhat ironical to speak of a leisure state when what most people are looking for is bread and butter. However, that is the possibility which our present economic system holds out to us when it is accompanied by a proper monetary policy.
I believe that we are faced with two alternatives. Unquestionably in the very near
future we are going to be compelled either to introduce a leisure state or to participate in another world war, and I believe the determining factor is going to be our financial policy. I do not at this time desire to enter into a discourse on financial policy, but I would say this: The solution not only of unemployment but of all our problems lies, I believe, entirely in policy. I disagree with my hon. friends to the immediate right in this. The solution lies not in ownership but in policy; and if we adopt a monetary policy which will make financially possible what is physically possible our problems can be solved.
I would conclude with a few quotations from Major Douglas to show the gravity of the situation which we are facing to-day. In giving evidence before the committee on agriculture of the legislature of Alberta Major Douglas was asked this question:
Q. Is there any way to stop the erratic retreat in living standards except by changing our present method of distribution of goods and services created?
A. Yes, and it constitutes the greatest danger with which the world is faced at the present time. There is no difficulty whatever in providing the world with a rationing system if you establish everywhere a complete dictatorship. leaving all powers in the hands of the dictator. Unless steps are taken within a comparatively short time to readjust the financial system so that it will work, the financial system as we know it will be swept away and we shall all be faced everywhere with some form of dictatorship, either fascist or what is called communist, which is, I think, in the strict sense, not communist at all but another form of dictatorship. It is possible to deal with the material basis of the present problem; it is possible to provide for the general public a higher standard of living, through the agencies of a dictatorship; but that involves a surrender of all those things for which the Anglo-Saxon race has fought for a thousand years.
He elucidated this by an answer to a further question:
Q. Major Douglas, you said this afternoon, "without surrendering the things we have fought for, for a thousand years." What are those things?
A. The things that we have fought for for a thousand years, I should say, are, broadly speaking, the right to express our opinions upon any subject whatever, the right to see that we have control of such matters as education in its broadest form, the right to see that we are not plunged into adventures, national or otherwise, which are being pursued for reasons with which we could not agree and over which we have no control, and the right to see that we are not hindered in the attainment of legitimate desires which can be attained without preventing our neighbour from also attaining the same result. That is a very cursory view of the situation, but it is undoubtedly summed up in the word "liberty."
Let me give one more quotation fiom Major Douglas. Giving evidence before the same committee of the Alberta legislature, he said:
And just as I told them in Ottawa in 1923 exactly what was going to happen in 1928, so I .tell you now in 1934 that before 1940, if you have not changed this financial system, it will change and probably eliminate you.
I think that gives us a definite idea of the possibilities of the very near future. In view of the fact that the prediction which Major Douglas made in 1923 has been literally fulfilled and we are still endeavouring to extricate ourselves from the conditions which he predicted, who is there but will say that if our monetary policy is not changed we shall find ourselves in the condition to which he refers and that this will take place before 1940? I am heartily in sympathy with the principle of the resolution as a means to assist the unemployment situation through the transitionary period, but I feel that the permanent solution lies in one of monetary policy alone.
Topic: PROPOSED PROGRAM OF PUBLIC WORKS AT TRADE UNION RATES OF PAY