Siit,-1 hardly agree with your correspondent that an agricultural party could obtain the necessary vote in the country to be able to do anything worth while; but although agreeing with Mr Chamberlain's foreign policy wholeheartedly, I am disgusted with his Government's lack of policy with regard to our fourth line of defence--agriculture and our unemployment. Both these subjects have been tinkered with without any hard-driven long term policies after years of neglect.
Agriculture in particular suffers from ministers and officials lacking first-hand knowledge and basing their ideas on theories and figures and showing little regard for policies put forward by the various bodies representative of the land.
As a practical farmer, my suggest ions for a long term policy for agriculture are these :
1. Cheaper credits and the lowering of interest rates. What is the use of new research work and machinery without the money in the industry to apply them?
2. A control of retail prices based on market prices. Official reports of market prices are issued, and from these should be based the local retail price so that the consumer gets the benefit of any lowering in price. This, I believe, would have a tendency to raise market prices.
3. A subsidy on wages of 11 per head and a rise in, the minimum wage. This would not only raise the wages, but enable farmers to employ more labour, which Is urgently needed on most farms.
4. A subsidy on the dung cart and/or sheep folding, with a lowering of the subsidies on wheat, beef, etc. This would mean added fertility instead of the present drain of growing as much wheat as the farm will stand, which every true farmer dislikes doing but financially has to. These subsidies could be paid for by small tariffs on imported goods, which should be controlled by fair working quotas.
If agriculture was put on a firm basis and farmers were freed from changes of political weather and hopes, our production could be increased by many millions, which would all be spent in this country, thus helping ordinary trade and employment. Would there be any unemployment if every acre in this country was being utilised in the right manner? Why do almost all the other nations try to maintain thoir land and a prosperous rural community? Surely to have a stable influence and a sturdy backbone to the nation together with a large home market for industry and a fertile soil in times of emergency.
The National Government seem content to bolster up an export trade on a shrinking market, vested interest dinner speeches being more easily heard than the cries of the unemployed and from the wilderness of agriculture. Is the Government afraid, or is it ignorance that it will not put the same energy into the questions of land and unemployment as it does towards the construction of useless destructive weapons? Why not appoint a panel of leading farmers to assist the Minister of Agriculture?
EDWARD STERN. Lower Farm, Owsiebury, Hants.
The Handy Man of Agriculture
SIR,—Perhaps my own experience as a country carpenter's handyman may be of interest, The man who lives in an agricultural district and can assist farmers by renewing and repairing their implements is a most necessary person. My own work takes in waggons, carts, elevators, ladders, etc., besides building sheds, roofing barns, and I have even assisted in felling timber trees. As a side line I repair windows, mend furniture, paint and paper, etc.— in fact, I have to be prepared to tackle anything or anybody. The calling for payment of belated accounts plays a somewhat prominent part. Still, the life is interesting and healthy, and the end of the day means a stiff brush and plenty of soap suds. There is room on the land for men prepared to get on with the job, and with more grassland under the plough a general influx of countryside workers would result.
Mr Stokes, M.P., and Land Values
Sia.—Permit me to point out that Mr R. R. Stokes, M.P., in his comments on. the Ciao-mac HERALD Work-for-All Plan makes certain false statements.
For instance, he says (C.H., 16/12/38, Page 13):
" To allow land values to be appropriated by individuals involves a double robbery. It deprives the community of the values which it has created and obliges the State to confiscate individual earnings to pay for public services."
Taking it that Mr Stokes means by " Land Values " what are called " Unearned Increments," it is instructive to find that Rev. Fr. Coyne, S.J., the brilliant Irish Economist, is not of the same opinion as Mr Stokes. For Fr. Coyne writes : " . . as to the ' unearned increment," unearned ground values,' or whatever one wishes to call them, it is extremely difficult to see how on general Catholic moral principles one is justified in denying the owner's right to these, or to say that his right depends only on the goodwill or tolerance of the State. A landlord owns the land on which, say, a house is built. The mere fact that the land increases in value without any effort or industry on his part does not shake his right to ownership. He can sell
It at its increased value without doing anyone an injury. The State can, of course, place a tax on such values; but this right of the State does not come from any special claim of the State to the unearned values,' but from its general right to collect taxes, within the limits of distributive justice, from whatever sources it believes to be the most conducive to the common good.
" Were we once to admit the State's ownership of unearned increments of land values, the principle would carry us very far and wide in social life; unearned increment occurs in many other things besides land values," (" The Peace of Christ in the Reign of Christ "—Irtsh Messenger Series— Part 2, Page 25.) The other assertion of Mr Stolies with which I nod fault has a strange ring in the ears of a student of 1938. Here it is :
" Surely it is only reasonable to suggest that this communally-created value, this economic rent, should be collected by the community and used, in place of to-day's crippling rates and taxes, to pay the nation's bills."
There is a Henry George touch about this. Does Mr Stokes really believe that the taxation of unearned increments of land values would provide enough funds to pay England's huge national bill, not to mention at all the financing of local authorities? If he does, a reading of even an elementary text-book on taxation would quickly disillusion him.
PATRICK F. GARFREV, 43, Quaker Road, Cork.
[Mr Stokes' views were included in articles suggesting how the W.F.A. Could be practically promoted. His views are not necessarily those of the CATHOLIC HER ALD.—EDITOR.1