THIS PLANNING BUSINESS
AN ADDRESS By MR. W. H. MOORE, M.P.
November 23, 1933
MR. MOORE was introduced by Major Baxter, the President.
MR. MOORS: Mr. President and Gentlemen: The way of public life has its difficulties. Your President has referred to my little book which I wrote and which I frankly stated was written at the instigation of an anonymous correspondent who asked me to stop making speeches anal settle down to work and solve the depression. I thought the best way of doing it was to express my views in book form. And the other day, in The journal, a professor up at the University said he was going to write me and ask me to stop writing books. Of course, it is only fair to me to say that the good professor belongs to a socialist party.
But, really I am under no illusions as to the value of talk of making speeches. I revived my memory a bit by talking to your President and I find that this Club has been in existence for about thirty years and within that time you have held many, many meetings at which you have had the wise men of Canada and of the world tell you, the wise men of this city, what ought to be done and The Canadian Club has been doing the same thing; and the Rotarians and the Kiwanions and the Lions and other clubs of the sort have been doing the same thing over a good many years. And here we are, in the worst mess we have ever been.
Now, that is a distinctly twentieth century movement. And I am going to make the frank confession that I have a nineteenth century mind. We have been relying in the twentieth century upon, if you like to call it so, a mass mentality.
Now, these professors at the University do not always agree. The Professor of Psychology will tell you' very frankly, that the mass mind is a weak mind, and then another professor will tell you that we ought to have all our affairs regulated by the mass mind. Now, the mass mind is a weak mind or rather, when we are subjected as individuals to mass influence, we do lose some of our strength of thought, some of our initiative. You know the alphabetic mind. Mr. Woodsworth, the other day, spoke of the mystic letters, the C.C.F., and I have no doubt that those who form some of the other movements, the K.K.K., and a great many other things, relied to a certain extent upon the mysticism of their movement, rather than upon clarity of thought.
The mass mind does not grasp figures readily. I hope that Mr. McFarlane who is present will pardon me if I make a little reference to Quebec. Not long ago, I was in Quebec anal I told an audience that we had a per capita debt in this country of, I think, about five or six hundred dollars and I pointed out to them what it meant if they only had twenty children per family and no one seemed much disturbed. But if I had plastered that family's home with a mortgage for the amount, h am quite sure they would have been horrified.
Now, the mass mind--and I call it such, realizing that that is not quite an accurate term--is a sloganic mind, if there be such a word. It believes in slogans and. we caught hold of one in this twentieth century. We caught hold of it very early in the twentieth century, although it is now changed, it is quite true. That slogan being, "It is better to plan than not to plan".
I want to analyze that statement a bit. Some of you can well remember the opening of the twentieth century and what high hopes we had. We were going to build a new world. That was our aspiration and we set to it very busily. And we began to plan--and here we are after the completion of the first stage of socialism and that is to be the thesis today.
It was represented in one of the papers and your President rather intimated that I was going to say something against the C.C.F. Now, really, Mr. President, I thought of saying something, something mainly against the gentlemen who belong to the Empire Club and similar organizations.
We started to plan in two different ways and have been doing it industriously ever since. First, we planned by means of captains of industry. May I call them "gentlemen adventurers" who got together in different associations and if you were to read the charters of those associations you would find all sorts of expressions. Some of them resemble the old time benevolent associations and do not say a word about prices or production and that sort of thing, but the fact is they are just the same. That is true, not only in Canada, but it is true in the United States and it is true all over the world. They vary in their form of organization. I think one of the most interesting associations that I know is the "National Association of Horseradish Producers" in the United States. It is, I fancy, a comparatively innocuous organization. Now, that is a long name for a small business but you come to big corporations and one of the biggest is known as the I.R.M.A., or the I.M.A. That is a world organization of rail producers, rail manufacturers and that is more effective--although it is alphabetic.
Then, I want you to remember this point: all these organizations have had various excuses and various reasons, but it is just exactly the same as if you were to take these honourable gentlemen at the head table and say that they are going to work together, and then bind their feet and tell them to run, or put your arms around each other and keep telling them to run. Well, of course we would make some headway but it would be slow and remember in industry, the object is service and we should not give it. The pace would be exactly the pace of the least competent.
Then we have had another form of planning which began very early in the twentieth century by gentlemen adventurers, and that was by merger, bringing companies all together and, Oh, how many reasons have been offered for it in the prospectuses we have received! But I am going to contend, Mr. Chairman, that the main object ha: been to eliminate competition. That has been the main reason for it. I am going to contend and the facts are there, that it has meant a piling up of fixed charges; it has meant a rigidity of service; it has meant the adoption of mass production in a country without mass consumption. The two must go together. You have had those two things working all through this twentieth century and here we are!
And I am claiming that we are here partly because these captains of industry have tried to plan for us our lives, what we should have and the price we should pay for it. As long, Mr. President, as these clerks of society came here and talked about vitamins and calories, not much harm was done, but when they started to advocate, as they have been advocating, that we should only have so many vitamins and so many calories, then we should pay so much for them, they inject a rigidity into society which has led us perilously near a breakdown.
Now, we have another form of planning. That is "statism". You can call it by various names but it really means the economic state; that the state has taken over under one form or another, or under one excuse or another, rather, different industries. I am not going to dwell upon our adventure in railway ownership. My friend, D. B. Hanna, is here. (Laughter.) Mr. Hanna and T, however, pretty well agree about matters. You know I wrote three books advising the government not to take over a railway and they took over three railways l If I had written a fourth, you would have had the C.P.R. government-owned, long ago. I am not going to dwell on the subject except to say this, that under government ownership, the railways have lost just about as much of this country's money as would be required to pay off all the mortgage debt on the farms of Canada. And now we are going in for a Central Bank! We can't run a railway, but some people think we can run a bank!
Now the reason for running a Central Bank, the main reason--and I must confess I haven't read in detail the report of the MacMillan Commission, and probably my opinion is not worth very much, but I give it to you just as I see it; there are two schools of thought. They agree that a Central Bank is needed to bring about a uniform structure of prices. Cane school holds that the government should control the mechanism of that structure. Well, that seems reasonable until you think of all the things the government has not controlled properly, although it has tried under various forms and tried very hard and very honestly. You must remember that the government has had some adventures in credit. It has loaned under the Federal Government or the Provincial Government, some sixty millions of dollars to farmers to buy more land to grow more wheat. Nobody seems to want to buy it at a profit.
For that reason and for others of a similar nature I reject the idea of the government ownership and direction of a Central Bank.
Now, then, the other idea, namely, that it should be privately owned. Well, Gentlemen, I am going to give you a picture. There are some five million dollars, I think, required of capital. My, how greedily you would underwrite it if you had the opportunity! Yes, I think I know one or two men in this room who would do it without any assistance if they could control the credit structure of this country. That seems to me an equally impossible situation. But I can't dwell on this planning state. It is mainly in the etceteras that we have had our planning: The state has undertaken to tell us what we should grow and how we should market what we grew. Would you stop to think just how much the state regulates your lives from early morning until late at night and it has been doing it since the beginning of the twentieth century-and then realize that here we are in this mess because we have completed the first stage of socialism and have done it under the guise of democracy.
What are we going to do about it? If I am right, what are we going to do in the future? We want to be practical. There are several schools of thought--two, mainly. The first one is divided into two classes. I am going to call the first one, and I do it in a nice way, I hope, I am going to call them "scuttlers".
There is a socialist school and the Communist school and they both say, "Scuttle the ship and let us get a new one."
There is a difference between their views but only as difference in means, not in objective. Now, I have been accused of confusing Socialism with Communism. I am going to refer you to something that I read last night, written by an authority. I was turning over the London Economist, and I regard the London Economist as a pretty good authority and in it, the reviewer of a book makes the statement that there is no essential difference between the two in objective. The only difference is as to the method of accomplishing the objective. So all the purging would seem to be rather a waste of time.
I wander if we shouldn't give that idea of scuttling the ship more careful thought than we have given it and take it more seriously than we have taken it? It may be that they are right. The present ship is listing badly. It is overloaded.
Now, the third school or the second school, if you like to call it that, says, "O, no, don't scuttle the ship; just add more cargo to it and it won't take so long going down."
I want to look now at the new ship. (I have to live up to this introduction.) They talk about Socialism-a Socialist State. There is nothing new about it. Since the twentieth century you have had at one time, nearly every important government., including that of England under Socialist administration-not merely Socialism administered by democratic parties or democratic institutions, but Socialist parties in charge, with majorities, in Europe to work their way. And we are told today that we have planned badly, but in the future we should have an Advisory Economic Council. That is the way, if you like, to reconcile Democracy with Socialism.
Well, they have had Economic General Councils in Europe pretty nearly everywhere for years. The first movement, began or took its present form, at any rate, in Germany. It was copies from one of Bismark's Prussian institutions. It consisted of some three hundred and fifty-two people. They were drawn from various occupations-ten groups, if I remember correctly. It was initiated in 1919 and was a direct effort to head off the extension of the movement in Russia to Germany. It was done with German thoroughness. I am not going to say that it hasn't produced results but you know the condition of Germany today. They have had an Economic Council there.
In France, for many years it was copied almost directly from the Council that was instituted in 1601 under Henry, the Fourth.
Now, I may have a nineteenth century mind, but I haven't a sixteenth century mind and that is what planning means.
But the acme of the thing has reached a limit in Italy. There, Mussolini, referring to his General Council, makes a comparison of it with a general staff of an army--giving orders and seeing that they are carried out.
That is what we are heading for. We must head for that if we go on loading an overloaded ship.
Then there are some people who say, "O, but national planning is wrong. We should have (we say it here) Empire planning" and they say it in England. The Federation of British Industries advocated that some one, ourselves, probably, in conference should regulate what each portion of the Empire should do. Now, then, we form a most effective unit. I want to make this plain: I am all for trade between British men within the Empire but I am not for trade that restricts our autonomy of action. (Applause.) Then, we fall into a quota system. It is working in a way but it isn't working altogether well.
We have to look at England's point of view just as they have to look at ours. They have established boards to decide what they shall import with the idea of raising prices. They have succeeded in raising prices. The other day they had to establish a board to see that prices weren't raised too high because the consumer had made an objection.
We have to realize that we can't absorb all the export trade of the United Kingdom and when the United Kingdom gives us preferences on food products, it raises the cost of labour and handicaps the export industry throughout the world.
I believe in a friendly association, but above all, the preservation of our individual right of action. (Hear, Hear.)
Then, we are told, finally, that the apex toward which we must work is world planning. These clerks of society who have performed splendid work at Geneva have now outlined a plan for the regulation of industry. We have had, as you know, a wheat agreement brought about by world conference. Now it is proposed that the same group should give us a similar agreement and go on with the sugar beet and other agreements, telling us what we should grow and what we shouldn't grow and how much we should grow.
I must confess that I have a nineteenth century mind. I look askance at the world planning in Moscow and Geneva, alike. I can see no hope, no future if we go on as we have been doing in the past thirty years in trying to have the few plan for the many, instead of allowing the many to plan for themselves. The only future I can see is that we should jettison some of the load, that we should bale the ship, that we should repair it and restore competitive economy. These slogans are all right; it is very good to say that it is better to plan than not to plan" but who is to do the planning?
I have got one slogan that I want to leave you today. I have damned slogans a bit but I will give you one: It is better to think than not to think. (Loud Applause.)