And Public Works
SIR,—On Fr. Drinkwater's first point, that the passage in Divini Redernptoris must refer to public works because there is a reference to employment being provided as a result of the taxasion of the wealthy,
this is a non sequitur. Taxation could be used in other ways than through public works in order to enable men to earn their living. For instance, taxation could be used to redistribute capital wealth, say to establish numbers of self-sufficient agricul tural communities. Men in order to earn their living must have access to capital, which they can obtain either as wageearners, borrowers, or newly-endowed owners. Since the State has the duty of making it possible for men to earn their living, it is committed to ensuring access to capital by one of these three methods. That is all that can be deduced with certainty (torn the passage in question.
Father Drinkwater says that public works' programmes are approved by states men and economists. It is true that these programmes are very much the fashion at present, but there is a great deal to be said against them, and it is quite likely that five years from now they will be looked on with disfavour. The Holy See is laying down a general peinciple. There is no thing whatever to show that it is endorsing what may well be a passing fad.
Fr. Drinkwater in his advocacy of retirable credit money (retirable when the goods concerned have been sold) again ignores the nature and necessity of capital. The tenor of his letter suggests that the entire capital outlay necessary to start producing goods of a given nature can be returned in a single production cycle. This is very rare indeed, and it is most certainly not the case with agriculture, which he appears to have in mind. If the unemployed were put to work by means of such credit money a huge outlay would be involved which could not possibly be retired or repaid except over a period of years, for the equivalent goods would take that much time to be produced. In the meantime the money, unless immediately taxed back (which Fr. Drinkwater will not allow) would continue to circulate with disastrous effect.
Father Drinkwater concludes his letter with a paragraph in which he ascribes to me various opinions which not only have I never uttered but most of which I indignantly repudiate, e.g., that the unemployed should he given no money but only free food. I have never said a blessed word about this.
J, L. BENVENISTI.