19 NOVEMBER 1910, Page 15


[To THE EDITOR OP THE "SPECTATOR."] SIB,—I see from the Spectator of October 29th that you miss the point in Mr. Lloyd George's remarks concerning the pursuits of "the rich,"—i.e., of impropriators of unearned income in the shape of rent and interest. Excusably so, for Mr. Lloyd George himself has not got rid of the old Radical notion that the destitution of the destitute minority, and the insecurity of the economically insecure majority, are effects of the existence of a class of income-impropriators, the truth being that the power to levy unearned income is an effect and not at all a cause, much less the cause, of destitution and economic insecurity or liability to destitution. However, the Chancellor's point is that the right to levy unearned income and live the life of an income-impropriator must yield to the right of income-earners to economic security and of all persons to some income to live upon, whenever the two rights come into conflict. We Socialists believe that unearned income for one minority is impossible except in presence of actual destitution for another minority and economic insecurity for the income-earning majority; but Mr. Lloyd George disagrees with us, and holds that the continued existence of an income-impropriating class is compatible with equally secure incomes for all alike. He cannot, therefore, be considered as inconsistent when he indulges in "motoring" and other pursuits of the income-impropriating classes, while yet stoutly maintaining that the right to indulge in such pursuits cannot without gross injustice be invoked to justify opposition to the elimination of destitution and the establish- ment of universal economic security. No doubt you, Sir, justify destitutionism on other grounds than the right of income-impropriators to do what they will with their own ; but your grounds have little effect on " the man in the street,"

to whom the rights of private property are ultimate and require no justification from the requirements of economic progress, and whose attachment to the " sacred rights of property " can only be overcome by appealing to the " right to lire," equally ultimate and more " sacred " to "the man in the street," the final court of appeal in the issue between upholders and opponents of destitutionism.—I am, Sir, &c., [We do not justify destitution, but are as much horrified by it, and desire to get rid of it quite as ardently, as any Socialist. The difference between us is this. We think that the Socialist is choosing the wrong method, and will infallibly increase, not decrease, destitution by putting his theories into operation. We hold that, like the Protectionist, but on a much greater scale, he is trying to seek abundance by the artificial creation of scarcity. To allege that we desire to maintain destitution as the foundation of riches is a malicious libel. We are perfectly willing to credit Socialists with good intentions, but many of them, like our corre- spondent, seem incapable of admitting that any one can oppose their views except on the basest and most sordid grounds. We cannot continue this correspondence.—En. Spectator.]