by J. L. Benvenisti
IHOPE that in my last note 1 succeeded in satisfying Mr. Riley whom I have kept waiting for so long. It should have been apparent from what I said that any kind of rigid totalitarian system is as repugnant to me as it is to him. The thing I want is essentially simple, and, given anything like reasonable conditions for national survival after the war, is quite feasible. It is. simply the creation of the conditions in which the free economy can operate and supply all essential needs, including that important need of all, the need to work.
In the general schems. I outlined the State will act frequently as purchaser and financier, particularly in such matters as housing. I do not want it to act. where this can be avoided, as a direct employer, but to. use the ordinary method of competitive tender to bring those goods into existence which it thinks desirable to see created.
Even this function I want left to private enterprise tip to the limit that private enterprise is willing to undertake it. The State shall only step in where private enterprise fails, but then it must step in to an extent that will fill the whole of the gap.
NOW, I say that this matter is so urgent that not a moment must be lost in at
tending to it. We must have our plans ready to put into effect the moment the war is over. It we do not, the impending crisis of our civilisation which is the crisis of the birth rate will be upon us and destroy the free economy for ever.
The investment industry and the investing sections of business has as yet not fully realised the nature of the threatened catas, trophe. It is bound to do so immediately peace returns. It will realise that the threat of a declining birth rate destroys all hope of profit and there must inevitably then be a collapse of confidence such as we have never seen before,
There is no remedy for a collapse of confidence. Cheap money will not remedy it. The only remedy is the return of conditions by which confidence is again justified.
IN other words, the problem we are con
fronted with is as follows: the functioning of the free economy, if it is successful, helps in conjunction with certain other vital factors to maintain the birth rate and the birth rate in its turn sustains the conditions in which the free economy can function
successfully. The two things interact and tend to cause the collapse of the other.
1 ant tar from suggesting that the birth rate is dependent on purely material factors; we know very well that it is not. But purely material factors certainly count and one factor which is, so to speak, half-way between the material and the spiritual, counts enormously It is the reasonable certainty that every man of average capability and diligence can be certain of getting a job.
This not only gives him the money income without which he cannot exist, but the allimportant sense of being wanted in the world. If we can convince fhe average man that there is a useful and necessary place both for him and his children in the material scheme of things, he will be more likely to venture on parenthood than he would otherwise be, Family allowances by themselves are not enough.