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War_Has_Lost_Its_Pockets

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We guide you step by steeapr—n furnish all text material. Including fourteen-volume Law Library. Degree of LI.. it. conferred. low cost, easy terms. Get our valuable 48-page "Law Training for ismdership" and "Evidence' books free. Send for them NOW. Leese* Extension University, Dept. 1714.. Chicane A Correspendenc• Institution THE SATURDAY EVENING POST ,January 13,1940 knowledge enough in the field of agrobiology to increase it many-fold more, so that the amount of human life that may be sustained on a given area of land is much greater than was ever hitherto imaginable. It is, in fact, an unknown quantity and remains to be explored. Thus the possession of fertile land is no longer for any people a matter of life or death, nor need it be a matter of the slightest anxiety. It follows that land is not a rational object of conquest for two reasons—namely, first, that for an industrial nation it is and for a long time will be cheaper to buy agricultural commodities than to produce them for itself, and, secondly, that the productivity of the land it already possesses may be wonderfully increased. Fear of famine, on the western side of the world, at least, has been banished. Yet remembcr, this has occurred only in our time, whereas land hunger in people is from what is probably the oldest fear memory in the tissues of the human race—the memory of scarcity. If you look, you will see this again and again—that the facts of human behavior, political behavior especially, contradict the facts of modern existence. Change in the vital conditions has been sudden, eruptive and, so far as we know, causeless—as who can say what caused the machine ?—whereas habits of thinking and feeling are historic and continuous and change very slowly. Slavery was one of the very old institutions in the world, older than written history. The moral sense of mankind did not destroy it; the machine did that. Yet the machine is new. It has neither a tradition nor any way of accounting for itself. Each day it is new again. It destroyed the economic value of slavery because it is cheaper than slaves. It had been cheaper to build the Pyramids with machines, only at that time there were no machines. In the time of Cato, a fair price for a farm slave was two hundred and fifty dollars. Which will you have—a tractor or four slaves? There was no original necessity for the machine. Civilization might have continued forever without it. Now life is more dependent upon the machine than it ever was upon slaves. In one cetrtury and a half the population of the world has more than doubled, all owing to. the machine. Abolish the machine and half the human life now existing in the earth would perish. Well, then, why is the machine not a rational object of conquest? Why not capture the machine instead of the slave? The Lesson of the Ruhr The French had that thought when, in 1923, because reparation payments were not forthcoming from the Germans, they occupied the Ruhr Valley region. That was the very heart of industrial Germany. The machines were there. Along with the troops the French sent engineers and technicians. The troops were to command obedience; the engineers and technicians were to supervise the Germans at work in the mines and steel plants. I was there. From the hotel in Essen, which had been staffed with French cooks and French servants because they were all afraid to touch German food, three army officers and an engineer took me in a French motorcar to a water tower commanding a panoramic view of the region. They spread out a map on which the industrial plants were marked. Over there was Stinnes, there was Thyssen, there was Krupp, and so on. Then we rushed off at high speed to visit them. Each plant was surrounded by a high brick wall ; and each time we came to a gate, there was a lone German watchman, unarmed, his arm upraised, rotating his palm against us. That was enough. The Frenchmen dared not try to pass him. Why not? They could call their troops; they could knock down the walls. Yes; but what they knew was that at a signal a few Germans could wreck the machines, and it would take them only five minutes to do it. The machine, you see, may be trusted only to willing hands. Fancy chaining a slave to a tractor or to the levers that control a rolling mill worth two or three million dollars ! Two thousand years ago, in the same place, the Romans, to make conquest pay, would have needed only superior force and chains. The German himself was the booty. Nevertheless, the Germans now are pursuing the idea that would not work for the French in the Ruhr. They have captured the machines of Czechoslovakia and Poland. But who will work them? If the Czechs and Poles who were working them before cannot be trusted to do it, or refuse, then, of course, they may be exterminated. That is possible. Only, mark it, each Czech or Pole who is exterminated for his unwillingness to accept this servitude is one customer less for the products of German machines, whereas it had been Germany's bitter complaint against the state of the world that her economy was in want of customers. The importance of this fact will become more apparent under the head of trade as an economic object of conquest. We are coming to that. But what needs first to be emphasized is the change that has taken place in the nature of wealth. The amount of it that is portable, such as gold and treasure, in relation to the total, is insignificant. Alexander, thinking to loot the richest country in the modern world, as if it were the opulent East of his time, would be as naïve as a retired bank burglar who once conferred upon me the honor of his acquaintance. His chronic mental state was one of moral indignation against the dishonesty of bank figures. He knew that I wrote about banking in a serious way, and for a while he could not make up his mind whether to blame my intelligence or my morals. One day he took from his pocket an old and carefully preserved piece of newspaper, which turned out to be the published statement of the financial condition of a suburban bank. Pointing to the item of total assets, which is all that he understood of it, he said: "Look. That's what they tell the people they've got. Every bank does. They are lying. I know, because I examined that particular bank myself, and it wasn't there. You'd be surprised. I've seen more money in a faro bank." I could not make him understand that the wealth of a bank, not the one he examined only, but any one, is not in gold and currency; that it is in book entries, in bundles of I 0 U's, in a stream of people arriving and departing, some to deposit money, some to receive, some to pay interest, and some to borrow. What do the borrowers do with the money? Let it be that one puts it into a machine, promising to pay it back with interest. He cannot pay it back with interest, or at all, but from the sale of the machine's product. The product, provided it satisfies a human want and people are ready to buy it, is truly wealth. The machine itself is not. That is to say, the machine considered merely as an object is not wealth. It is but the means to wealth. All the wonderful and costly machines of the motor industry would be utterly worthless if there were not millions of people able and willing to buy new motorcars each year. Nor is gold wealth, but in ornaments and jewelry that satisfy an aesthetic desire. Monetary gold is not wealth. The only reason why we regard it as such is that people cannot trust one another to keep their word and not to counterfeit or debase their paper money. The case of a nation trading and exchanging goods with her neighbors is that if her word is not good and her trade is out of balance, she will be unable to keep a gold reserve if she has one; whereas, if her word is good and her trade is in proper balance, she will not need any gold, or hardly any. The gold the Germans have seized in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, no matter how much, is of very little importance, except in a state of war economy. All the gold in the world would not solve Germany's peacetime economic problems. She could only spend it and consume what she bought with it, instead of producing and exchanging real wealth in a way to make herself and the whole world richer. When the gold was gone, she would be much worse off than before. The Price of a War Machine Yet one hears the argument that Germany, being obliged to buy the raw materials required by her industry, first was drained of gold by reparation payments to the Allies, and then, having only the products of her technical skill to exchange for a continuous supply of raw materials, the world turned against her goods, wherefore she could not buy because she could not sell, her exchange position was ruined, and she was forced to go to war in order to possess herself of the raw materials she was no longer able to buy. Never was Germany denied access to raw materials at the world price—the same as was paid by everyone else. It is not true that she was drained of gold. Twice the world lent her gold to set up a new currency. It is not true that reparations drained her. She did not pay them. She borrowed the money to pay them, principally from us, and then defaulted. It is true that she has to buy raw materials and that what she has to buy them with is her technical skill in the form of manufactured goods; but that is true also of Belgium, for example, and there were no more barriers in the world against German goods than against Belgian goods until, in this country, we raised tariffs against Germany to compensate for the subsidies she gave to her own exporters, with a political motive, and this we thought unfair. What Germany did was to use the proceeds of everything she could sell to build a war machine, and that is what ruined her exchange position. If you buy raw materials to make a machine, you can sell either the machine or its products, and the whole world is thereby richer; but if you buy raw materials to make implements of war, intending to use them yourself, as Germany did, these you cannot sell and your buying power declines. Having pursued that policy, a nation finds itself in an impossible dilemma. In no case can the war implements be converted back into things that satisfy human wants. That way the economic loss is irretrievable. You can convert food into guns, by doing without butter and having armaments instead, but you


War_Has_Lost_Its_Pockets
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