CORRESPONDENTS' KEEN INTEREST
Our Coming Crisis
SIR,—In these days of much talk about Catholic Action, Mr. Francis Hunt's article which appeared in last Friday's edition of your paper is refreshing and puts the matter in a nutshell. The conclusion to be drawn from his article is that poverty as we see it today must be eliminated if the growth af Communism is to be checked.
There is little doubt that unless Catholic Action makes the abolition of poverty one
of its main objectives its energies will largely be wasted because thinking men can see that there is no justification whatsoever for people to live in the present wretched conditions.
To a large number of poverty-stricken people proposals to alleviate the effects of poverty are only irritating; what they justly demand is the removal of the cause; furthermore, to enlarge (in the present cir cumstances) on the virtues of unnecessary and involuntary poverty to starving men with under-nourished children, will do more for the cause of Communism than any " Marxists' " propaganda.
It is obvious that the poor can be enriched without really harming anyone (with the exception possibly of a certain few engaged in the business of finance) as there is plenty for all. Let us, therefore, hope that we shall hear more of this aspect of Catholic Action and some practical pro posals for tackling the matter even if it means getting to grips with the existing financial and credit system.
D. W. O'BRIEN.
" Kincora," Park Road, Tirnperley, Cheshire.
A Ministry of CarpOratistn
Sue—In the article, " Our Coming Crisis," by Francis Hunt, there appears the sentence, in the paragraph on " Social Justice," " They have a right to work, and, given that, they will ask for nothing more." Now, surmise that Mr. Hunt unintentionally omitted " a living wage ''; the payment of a living wage being the essence of all the Pope's teaching.
It is instructive to inquire who is responsible for sweating (i.e., all labour which is underpaid). We learn that the whole cornmunity must be held responsible for the manifest injustice of sweated labour in a people supposed to be Christian and civilised. Surety this is a call to action, when we read the percentage of those who earn barely enough on which to subsist.
We are again told that labour should combine to protect itself, but I know personally of factories that will not employ trade union hands. What, then, is the remedy? The Corporate State is suggested by Mr. T. W. C. Curd and the Holy Father calls for corporations of workers and
employers. Why, then, should not the State, whose purpose it is to secure the welfare of all the people at large or the common good, compel all employers to employ trade unionists. Let the trade unions be brought up to 100 per cent.; let the employers have their own organisation to which all employers in the respective industries must belong, and let the State appoint men and women to represent consumers. Now, if these three distinct branches met together to settle wages, conditions of work, hours of work, pensions, etc., and if these three were granted equal representation, would it not be possible to
arrive at a just wage, a fair profit and a fair price to the consumer?
Strikes and lock-outs would be abolished as being unnecessary because the agreement reached, signed and ratified by a Minister of Corporations, would be given statutory powers; either party breaking it could be proceeded against in a court of law.
Industry would not be nationalised, but excessive profits could be checked, masters and men would work together for the good of the industry and nation.
The corporations would interlock; being
represented on the employers' side by experts, the technical and commercial aspect required by the Pope is assured. Through the trade unions the workers will be given equal power with employers, thus gaining a definite voice in the management and conditions of work. The consumers, represented by housewives and, where necessary, representatives of other corporations, would be to a great extent in control of prices. In effect, the result would be peaceful collaboration of the classes; repression of Socialist organisations by Government as being no longer necessary; a moderating influence of a special Ministry, i.e., the Ministry of Corporations, and a Minister of Corporations to whom any Corporation could appeal in cases where settlement of industrial disputes cannot be effected.
This in brief is the Corporate State, the outline sketched being necessarily devoid of detail, but I think enough has been said to illustrate a method by which the Holy Father's encyclicals can be brought into being by men and women of good will. Unemployment would very soon dwindle, agriculture could flourish, and the nation as a whole recover its self-respect. The Pope's wish would be to a great measure
The Hermitage, Callow End, Worcester.
R. N. CLARK.
SIR,—I believe the time has arrived for a general appeal to be made to all Catholics to avail themselves of the opportunity of understanding the Church's outlook on social problems. There is no body that can answer social questions so completely and effectively as the Catholic Church. Many thousands of non-Catholics realise that something is wrong with the economic system, but know not where to turn for the
remedy. Surely all Catholics should be alive to this wonderful opportunity, first, in acquiring the knowledge on social problems which the Church has provided for us, by forming study circles in every parish throughout the land (The Catholic Social Guild, Oxford, will start you off, if you write them); secondly, having acquired this knowledge, to make it generally known amongst non-Catholic friends, trade union branches, co-operative guilds, etc., the result of which would undoubtedly attract many to Catholic ideas, as to how society should be managed, giving social justice to all, and, finally, to the Faith, which is the centre of Truth.
M. W. ALLEN. 128, Marshfield Road, Fishponds, Bristol.
Clothes for the Poor
Si,—The Wigan House of Hospitality has been open for three weeks now, and we have learned much in that time. The most pressing need undoubtedly is to arouse the public conscience to apply Christian principles to remove the appalling scandal of men living at sub-human level. In very many cases the need for clothing is urgent; where men have been out of work for several years and there has been only sufficient money for the bare necessities of day to day existence, clothes have been reduced to the minimum necessary for decency, and not once, but several times, we have come on cases where men have had to borrow clothes to go out. May I appeal to your readers in their Christian charity to send us all clothing they can spare? It is difficult to put in order the classes of clothes most needed, but we have had to turn several men and a lot of children away with feet that could in no sense be called shod. In any case, whatever can be spared will give real relief.
HELEN N. WAIST'. House of Hospitality, 16, Darlington Street, Wigan, Lancs.
Adopting Needy Families
Stg,—My suggestion that Catholics in comfortable circumstances should adopt needy Catholic families, is criticised by Miss Keenan as substituting philanthropy for fulfilment of just social obligations.
The following extract from Quadragesimo Anno seems; apposite
(b) The law of charity must operate.
"Now, in effecting this reform, charity
• which is the bond of perfection ' must play a leading part. How completely deceived are those inconsiderate reformers who, zealous only for commutative justice, proudly disdain the help of charity! Clearly charity cannot take the place of justice unfairly withheld. But, even though a state of things be pictured in which every man receives at last all that is his due, a wide field will nevertheless remain open for charity. For justice alone, even though most faithfully observed, can remove the cause of social strife, but can never bring about a union of hearts and minds. Yet this union binding men together, is the main principle of stability in all institutions, no matter how perfect they may seem, which aim at establishing social peace and promoting mutual aid. In its absence, as repeated experience proves, the wisest regulations come to nothing."
I should be willing for the sale= to be tailed by and to take as its charter, the
above words, together with the four sentences which follow them in the encyclical.
I am far from thinking that Catholics should slacken in proclaiming the evil of our times—compulsory poverty in a world of abundance. On the contrary, I suggest that there is one thing we ought to be doing which is not being done. Family budgets ought to be collected, on the lines of Le Play, Rowntree, etc. We could be finding Out, by districts, what wage is sufficient to maintain families of various sizes in frugal comfort. These could be compared with wage rates paid in the district.
I am not competent to discuss how much the State should do. We enter the realms of State socialism, and the corporative organisation of industry. (But we have had a century of social legislation).
I claim no more for my suggestion than this, that it would help to bring some Catholics together in the bond of charity. There are a growing number of childless marriages (through no fault of the parties) between men and women who would give almost anything for a child. Cannot they give of their substance to help the poorer Catholic parents striving to keep God's law in their married life, and who have a family of children? It would lighten their cross if they helped such people to bear theirs. It would unfreeze shyness between classes, ignite complacency into the flame of charity, widen the hearts of the givers and the receivers (not, please, donors and dependents).
It would be one way of re-inserting personal relations into our social fabric. There must be many others, which would cut across the alignment of class organisations, which other people may be able to think
A SPLENDID SOCIETY
Son—We should like to bring to your notice the very excellent work which is being done by the North and South West Groups of the St. Pancras House Improvement Society. Since this group was formed in 1931 it has raised about £77,000 in invested capital and £5,000 in donations. It has bought up slum-property in the poorest parts of Kentish Town and Chalk Farm and re-built it with flats which are let to the very poorest at rents which they can afford. Seventy-one flats have been completed and forty-nine more, with a much-needed Nursery School on the roof, have been begun, But the group is badly handicapped by having in hand only £12,000 of the £30,000 needed to finish this scheme. Will your readers help us to raise this sum by investing anything from £1 to £200 in the Society's Ordinary Shares (which have paid 3 per cent. for the past eleven years) or anything from £25 upwards in its 24per cent. guaranteed loan stock? Donations are also much needed. The organising Secretary, Lady Stewart, 118e, Euston Road, N.W.11 (lel.: Euston 2540) will gladly supply particulars.
We beg your readers not to make the mistake of thinking that the war for better housing is won or that there is no further need for voluntary endeavour. In the Borough of St. Pancras alone, the official Survey made this year discovered 4,464 families living in overcrowded rooms. Large numbers also are forced to dwell in slum conditions. There is a vast shortage of really low-rented dwellings. The public authorities are doing all they can, but it is a stupendous task and they welcome voluntary help,
St. Pancras is an exceptional borough in having a large proportion of poor people who are obliged to live quite near their work, such as railwaymen, market porters, office cleaners, waiters and waitresses. Not many can move out to the new L.C.C. estates because of transport difficulties, early and late hours and night work, and the heavy cost of fares. The Society rehouses these people on the spot, at rents within their means, and it employs trained women estate managers with such admirable results that over 98 per cent. of the rehoused slum dwellers make excellent tenants.
The founders of the Society set out to prove three things : that good housing can be good business; that people moved from even the worst conditions will, almost without exception, respond to better surroundings; and that, if housing work is undertaken for the love of God and of His children, it will have the power to create not only houses and flats, but homes. It has proved all these things.
Will your readers help us to transform the ill-health, frayed nerves and wretchedness now endured by these families into health and happiness in the homes which we can complete if only they will make it possible.
We should like to point out that innumerable Catholic families are living under the wretched conditions which this House Improvement Society is out to change. Those of us who have worked in the slums of St. Pancras and who are acquainted with the old Litcham Street type of housing, have a fairly accurate idea of the conditions in which these people have to fight their battle. Can these conditions honestly be said to conduce to their living good Catholic lives? It is only too obvious, alas, that they contribute nothing but a tendency to a lower standard of morality and a corresponding weakness in their Faith and love of God. Elevate their homes and their surroundings and you will elevate their minds and their hearts to a greater knowledge and a greater love of our common Father and Friend.
ANTONFNus MAGUIRE, O.P. (Prior). BERYL RUSSELL,. J.P.
BERTRAND Puce, O.P.