18 AUGUST 1939, Page 20


Sut,—In your last issue the secretary of the National Associa- tion Against Unemployment, which would not be a bad title for the House of Commons itself in these days, defines the hard core of unemployment as the unemployables and those who stubbornly refuse to work. These he advocates should be pensioned off on adequate pensions—the italics are his, not my own.

Why people who have to work hard for their living should be called upon to provide money for the benefit of those who stubbornly refuse to work he does not explain. St. Paul considered, no doubt very mistakenly from Mr. Millman's point of view, that if a man would not work neither should he eat. Adequate pensions for parasites are apparently more con- sonant with modern ideas than the dictum of the apostle.

Nevertheless, liberty to idle by choice at the public expense does not seem as yet to be a principle accepted in practice outside these islands. The totalitarian States, no matter what

may be the complexion of their various ideologies, seem to have found effective measures for dealing with the sluggard who is one by choice and not by necessity. So, if laziness be a vice, as it has always been hitherto regarded, and that not by Christian people only, why should this vice be fostered and encouraged? One reason which provides the much criticised capitalistic system with an element of permanency which will be very difficult to destroy is that it does put a premium upon industry and efficiency, so that, while the possession of these virtues may not always ensure a due reward, the absence of them will certainly bring want and failure in life.

Even in the freest of democratic States there must be some penalty for those who stubbornly refuse to work so long as they have any option in the matter. What right have these to live at the expense of others when farmers are at their wits' end through lack of labour at a wage they can afford to give and thousands of homes are crying out for domestic help which young unemployed women are refusing to supply?

Canada is fast becoming a home for races of Europe which will have little sympathy for British traditions. Australia refuses to increase her population. The deve:opment of other parts of the Empire is being held up through the cessation of emigration from the Motherland, whose wilful idlers it is now proposed permanently to subsidise. At the same time our home population is steadily declining mainly because the diffi- culty of maintaining the present high standard of living is being accentuated not only by unproductive expenditure on armaments but also by that on unemployment where most people will agree with Mr. Millman that the hard core of it to which he refers ought to be tackled and broken up. Where one disagrees with him is in supposing that pensions for the work-shy at an early age would be likely to achieve this object. Even the Romans in their most decadent period of bread and circuses did not quite descend to this level.—Yours faithfully,


The Vicarage, St. Michaels-on-Wyre, Preston.