Source: “High Prices! Bradbury Battered”, The Call, 1 January 1920, p.2, (808 words)
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Chris Clayton
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2007. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Prospects, are bright for Christmas — the “Labour Gazette” assures us retail prices did not, rise during November; and Chamberlain chances prophecy by .guaranteeing that 1919 is positively not the last year, for 1920 looks bright with promises of prosperity (for the plutes?).
No feast without the skeleton, however. Railway freights are going to be raised from about 50 to 100 per cent., to relieve the Government of gifts to the railway companies. The Government will thus hand on the burden to the workers through a rise in prices due to the rise in freights. It certainly may be a Happy New Year (for the plutes?).
The “Economist” index number for November (wholesale prices) rose from 308.9 to 317.5, so that Independent of freight increases, retail prices are likely to follow the lark skywards.
Since the Executive of the B.S.P. agreed to take up the question of the high cost of living poor Bradbury has had a sorry time of it, and he sees cremation or the museum alcohol bottle right in front of him.
Naturally, his friends in the Commons lament his wild extravagances as gently as they may, but all are agreed that his freedom should be limited. Discussing the Consolidated Fund Bill, Mr. A.M. Samuel urged that the inflation of the currency was not the sole cause of our trouble. Inflation of credit was more to blame. Mr. Marriott attributed part of the rise in prices to low production, but most to the increase in the currency. He was pleased to know that the Treasury intended to limit the issue of Bradbtirys. If the Government limits Bradburys as it has limited “Profiteering,” God save the poor (without to overtime). Commander Hilton Young urged that the only way to deflate currency was to deflate credit, but to try to deflate credit by a violent deflation of currency would be disastrous (to the plutes?).
Chancellor Chamberlain agreed with Young. He asserted that a sudden and violent reduction of credit would produce consternation and disaster, not merely to the State, which endeavoured to balance revenue and expenditure, but to the general economic structure of the society in which we lived. To keep capitalism intact with its depressed standard of living for the wage-slaves through swollen prices, he urged a gradual reduction of credit and a limit to the issue of Bradburys.
In 1920 the Government would require no more loans to meet expenditure and would even begin to repay part of the floating debt in the form of Treasury bills. Once the repayment began loans would pour in to enable the Government to convert the remaining floating debt into consols, or some other form of permanent debt Surely that must be “consoling” also the floating fears of the plutes, and not a few Trade Union mandarins.
The nation’s purser has also good cheer for the workers (the usual) — increase production!
He alleges that if by a magician’s wand they could bring back the pre-war currency, they could not thus bring back pre-war prices. Only by toiling harder and issuing from the workshop ever-growing masses of commodities would prices fall and workers get an early paradise — of the Amritsar pattern, we presume.
Increased production under capitalism means really increased production of unemployment; and besides, increased production alone does not guarantee lower prices. Sir Herbert Hambling, presiding at a meeting of the London and South-Western Bank on January 3rd, 1918, just prior to fusion with the London and Provincial Bank, stated that “our organisers of industry have laid golden eggs” — in the shape of an output of war material that three years ago would have seemed incredible. Yet prices rose. “We want more golden eggs from them in the future in the shape of an equally astounding peace output.” Of course, that is good capitalism. And every economic lie is being poured into the ranks of Labour to get that greater output those golden eggs for the “organisers of industry.”
The resort of Chamberlain to the “hard work stunt” is surely an admission of bankruptcy of opposition to our claim that the easiest and surest way to reduce prices and the cost of living at the.present time — right here and now — is by the withdrawal of the Bradburys, and the resumption of the payments in gold.
The Trades’ Congress resolution is largely Socialist thunder, but an evasion of the type of proposal that would press the enemy most sorely, and at the same time rally the workers most easily and surely.
The fact that the Chancellor has had to face the question as we urge it, ought to encourage us to press right on till we get to grips with the capitalists. If Ireland keeps steady, and we press home, Russia will be saved, Europe will be saved.