could adopt the suggestion of the Archbishop of Birmingham regarding Catholic employers and the just wage. But when we come down to its practical application it raises a question: Suppose a number of Catholic firms did guarantee the just wage; this would in many, if not most, cases entail the payment of a wage considerably in excess of Trade Union standards; it would entail a wages bill considerably in excess of the wages bill of other similar firms. All Catholic employers are not at present waxing rich at the expense of their employees; how many such firms could stand this increased wages bill and continue in business in face of the competition of other firms not paying this higher wage?
The suggested " White List " would, no doubt, be a splendid gesture but if it resulted in a firm going out of business, with consequent loss of employment to the workers, would any lasting good have been achieved?
The just wage is a fundamental principle of Catholic social teaching. Ilow are we to give effect to this principle unless it be made a universal and not merely a local principle? To adopt it here and there would in many cases merely be to court disaster to the employer and to his workers. Should not our policy (and therefore one most important detail of that "Programme" that is being clamoured for) be to get this principle adopted in all industries and given legal effect?
The just wage should be made a first charge on all industries, coming before owners' profits and shareholders' dividends. Any firm in which conditions are such that the just wage is impracticable should be the subject of an investigation by representatives of the owners, the workers, and the consumers with a view to reorganisation. If local reorganisation cannot achieve the desired object the counsel and help of the industry of which the firm forms a part should be called in. Such co-operation is natural, if not essential, to any industry and to the welfare of the community as a whole. It is certainly the most likely way to ensure peace and prosperity in industry.
This, of course, is the modus operandi of the Corporations, or Vocational Groups, and it would appear that the promotion of such corporations is the surest way to achieve the main objects of the social teachings of the Popes: the just wage, the elimination of strikes and lockouts, the peace and general welfare of the whole community. For we are all either employers, workers or consumers.
T. W. C. CURD.
SIR,—We are told by our pastors that all workmen should receive a living wage. What is a living wage?
One family will live well on £2 per week while another of the same size, employment and general environment will live very poorly on £4 per week.
If a Catholic employer with 100 workmen and making £1,000 a year decides to give each man an additional 5s. per week he will give away £1,250 a year and will drop out of business because the task is impossible unless he has a private income and does it for charity; also he will be unable to sell his goods at their increased cost as his competitors who have not paid the increased wages can undersell him.
If all employers raise their workmen's wages alike they increase the price of all commodities and lower the value of money
leaving nobody any better off. For instance a golden sovereign today costs 35s. 3d. sterling instead of 20s. as in 1914.
We are also told that every man should possess some land of his own presumably for cultivation.
How are the 8,000,000 inhabitants of London to have land of their own or, owning it, till it?
The real difficulty is envy and the struggle for an impossible equality. Each man wishes to be equal with his neighbours and to be able to purchase the same things his neighbour can do.
I know Communists preach equality on earth but we must find some better arguments than theirs, another ideal.
The Church lays down beautiful maxims that are wasted if she cannot also show how they can be carried out.