Page 5, 27th August 1937

27th August 1937
Page 5
Page 5, 27th August 1937 — MONEY AND EMPLOYMENT
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People: Benvenisti
Locations: Birmingham, Coventry

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MONEY AND EMPLOYMENT

SIR,—The main point at issue between Mr. Benvenisti and myself is a very important one.

Let me begin with a brief reply to him on two minor issues, to which I shall not return.

First, I still think it obvious that Divini Redemptoris 75 is urging a policy of helping employment by " public works "; because this is a commonsense measure often praised by economists and statesmen, and because the Pope says these works which he is suggesting must be financed by taxation.

Secondly, Mr. Benvenisti's reasoning about the impossibility of financing landsettlers by new credit-money seems to me very weak. You can't do it, he says, because such money will have to buy actual goods and food which may not be available. Surely this argument ignores the very nature of agriculture, in which credit results precisely in the production of food in a short and calculable space of time. Besides, it is quite absurd to say that actual food couldn't be available when all the time our Ministries and Boards are restricting food-production. Let me amend my original statement and say: If you have idle land and idle men, and idle plough-factories, and idle iron-ore in the earth, and some idle seed-potatoes and some idle cows and hens, why can't you create the credit (i.e., the retirable or repayable money) that is needed to bring all these things together into fruitful activity, without necessarily " cutting down on something else?" It still seems to roe just silly to say you can't.

But now for the really important point at issue between us, which is whether employment should be elevated to the position of an end in itself.

Mr. Benvenisti appears to hold that all men should earn their living by work, which (in the case of propertyless men) means by employment; that the State is responsible for seeing that every man has either property or employment; that if the State fails in providing employment it must provide the unemployed with maintenance in lieu of employment: that since it would be financially unsound to provide such maintenance in new money, the unemployed should either be paid out of the taxes without any means test whatever, or else should be given no money but only free food, clothes and shelter; that the second alternative would be the only practical one financially but unacceptable psychologically; and finally that the right policy for the State is to prevent unemployment altogether by providing paid work at all costs, even perhaps work which does not need doing or which could be done just as well by machines.

am ready to argue that all this is against human dignity and the will of God, and has little or no relation to Catholic Social teaching.

F. IL DRINKWATER.

763, Coventry Road, Birmingham.




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