It is said to have been reported to one of the Roman emperors, as a piece of good news, that one of his subjects had invented a process for manufacturing unbreakable glass. The emperor gave orders that the inventor should be put to death and the records of his invention should be destroyed. If the invention had been put on the market, the manufacturers of regular glass would have been put out of business; there would have been unemployment that would have caused political unrest, and perhaps revolution.
There are only two great economic systems in operation in the world today. If Capitalism in the spirit of Christian love can solve the problem of distribution and bring unemployment to an end, it will find itself spreading and recapturing the nations it has lost to its rival. But if Capitalism is permeated with selfishness it will gradually give way to Communism, Technocracy or some other form of Socialism.
When the United States was formed in 1776, it took 19 people on the farm to produce enough food for 20 people. So most of the people had to spend their time and efforts on growing food. Today, it's down to 1% or 2% to produce that food. Now just consider the vast amount of supposed unemployment that was produced by that. But there wasn't really any unemployment produced. What happened was that people who had formerly been tied up working in agriculture were freed by technological developments and improvements to do something else. That enabled us to have a better standard of living and a more extensive range of products.
The high rate of unemployment among teenagers, and especially black teenagers, is both a scandal and a serious source of social unrest. Yet it is largely a result of minimum wage laws. We regard the minimum wage law as one of the most, if not the most, antiblack laws on the statute books.
The long-range sloution to high unemployment is to increase the incentive for ordinary people to save, invest, work, and employ others. We make it costly for employers to employ people; we subsidize people not to go to work We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.
I have just explained my idea of how a constructive period of reflection, one that would send a clear message to the citizens of Europe: You should know what our priorities are. For Germany this means: Unemployment is one of one of our biggest problems.
But the economic meltdown should have undone, once and for all, the idea of poverty as a personal shortcoming or dysfunctional state of mind. The lines at unemployment offices and churches offering free food includes strivers as well as slackers, habitual optimists as well as the chronically depressed. When and if the economy recovers we can never allow ourselves to forget how widespread our vulnerability is, how easy it is to spiral down toward destitution.
For those who live in urban areas with few businesses of any kind, the impact of changes in the private sector is most direct and devastating, with high unemployment and crime, drug abuse, welfare dependency, and school failure. Problems elsewhere eventually affect us all so government has a big responsibility to help remedy them. But its resources are limited. Other developed countries, like Japan and Germany, are more committed to social stability than we have been, and they tailor their economic policies to maintain it. We have chosen a different path, leaving more of our resources in the private sector. As a society, we have a choice to make. We can permit the marketplace largely to determine the values and well-being of the village, or we can continue, as we have in the past, to expect business to play a social as well as an economic role. That means we have to look realistically at what government must require business to do, principally in the areas of health, safety, the environment [and so on].
I am a man of peace. I am longing and working and praying for peace, but I will not surrender the safety and security of the British constitution. You placed me in power eighteen months ago by the largest majority accorded to any party for many, many years. Have I done anything to forfeit that confidence? Cannot you trust me to ensure a square deal to secure even justice between man and man?
A simultaneous change of our whole economic and social system in favor of drastic decentralization of cities and industries, of the restoration of some more `natural order', more rural, but less urbanized, mechanized, industrialized, proletarized and commercialized. People will not like to face competition unless they have some firm stand. They must not feel lost in this present dehumanized world. Competition is a necessary social arrangement not a social gospel likely to make us enthusiastic. It is a negative concept which derives its strength from the fact that we like the alternatives, i.e., monopoly and collectivism, even less. It must be supplemented by something which is humanly positive.
There is no such thing as the viability of states or of nations, there is only a problem of viability of people: people, actual persons like you and me, are viable when they can stand on their own feet and earn their keep. You do not make non-viable people viable by putting large numbers of them into one huge community, and you do not make viable people non-viable by splitting a large community into a number of smaller, more intimate, more coherent and more manageable groups.
Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.