SPECIAL ARTICLES

THE NATION'S BUSINESS

THE EDITOR January 1 1918
SPECIAL ARTICLES

THE NATION'S BUSINESS

THE EDITOR January 1 1918

THE NATION'S BUSINESS

Extravagance Must Not Be Allowed

THE Government of Canada will have a credit of $450,000,000 as a result of the tremendous Victory Loan campaign. The spending of that money will be the gravest responsibility that any Canadian Government could face.

When it became known that the amount subscribed had run to such colossal figures, thinking men became grave. Governments run naturally to extravagance. Would the fact of such a grand total have the effect of breaking down frugal scruples on the part of those who direct the national expenditures? Would the Government exercise a less rigorous degree of control over spending departments?

At time of writing the election is nearing an end, and it is impossible to say on whom the task of spending the money will devolve. But, whether the new Government is Union or Laurier, the country is going to demand one thing: A frugality, a husbanding of our available funds such as would have been necessary had the total not run over the minimum objective of §150.000,000. Had that amount only been secured the Government would have been compelled to watch every dollar expended with hawk-like vigilance. It would have been a case of stretching every dollar to the maximum of its buying power. Let the men who go back to power see that the same degree of caution that would have been necessary in that contingency is employed.

The confidence of the people of Canada, expressed in the magnificent size of their Victory Loan investments, must not be accepted as an excuse for extravagance.

The Victory Loan must be paid back. Heavy interest charges must be met. The policy of the Government must be one of frugality and rigorous economy.

The First Food Controller

T ET’S go back into history to get the right angle on this Food Controller business. Joseph was the first Food Controller. After he had answered the riddle of Pharaoh’s dream, by predicting the coming of the seven lean years, Joseph was delegated to collect and save food and to build huge granaries to store it in. He went about it so thoroughly that when the lean years came there was food in plenty for all the Egyptians and even some to seli, probably at profiteering prices, to the needy who came from less provident lands to buy food in foresighted Egypt. The reason for the success of the first Food Controllership is not hard to find. It had the autocratic and absolute power of Pharaoh behind it. What Joseph said must he done was done.

The Bible has not supplied us with much material for a study of the economic side of this mighty example of national conservation. We will be justified, however, in assuming certain things. Egypt was a commercial country and unquestionably the law of supply and demand operated there in those early days as it does here to-day. The law of supply and demand is older than the pyramids. It was operating when Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. It is certain, therefore, that when Joseph proceeded to corner the grain of Egypt in order to fill his granaries there was immediately much confusion and consternation. With

the government, as represented by Joseph, commandeering a big share of all the grain raised during the seven years of plenty, supplies would become short and, inevitably, prices would go up. One can imagine the agricultural Egyptian waxing fat on the high price he was able to secure and the urbanite tightening his belt as he toiled on the latest pyramid. One can imagine corn cards and goatless days and the housewives of Hieroglyphics-on-Nile gathering in the market place and raising a loud cry of “Out upon this Joseph who raises the price of corn!”

But it was successful and, when the lean years came, all Egypt blessed Joseph. It succeeded because Joseph’s Food Controllership was the real thing. He actually controlled the food supplies that grew all along the Nile. If any of the subjects of Pharaoh objected or hoarded food or broke the regulations they were probably hamstrung or buried alive, or disposed of in the official method of those good old days.

We need a real Food Controllership in Canada to-day. Mr. Hanna’s power is real enough in some respects but it is hopelessly bound around by the woollen string of political restrictions. He can’t do what he believes to be necessary. He can suggest and implore and exhort, but, so far, he has not had the power to insist.

The world is in much the same position today as Egypt was in the days of Joseph. We are facing the certainty of lean years. The world is on the brink of famine now. If the war continues for another year, famine will stalk through Europe and the sickle of starvation will reap in all corners of the world. We may not feel the actual pinch here, but the duty will devolve upon us of helping to feed the starving old world. The situation is recognized, its gravity is foreseen. But what are we going to do? Has any adequate scheme been evolved to increase our production next year? Has the problem of farm labor been solved, or even approached ? Has anything been done to establish a real food controllership, to actually force the saving of food against the day of want?

The Government will have a real duty to perform when the elections are over. The success of Joseph must be repeated.

And the duty of the individual should not be overlooked. A Joseph must arise in every household to insist on frugality and food economy.

Our Relations With the United States

T T is gratifying to see the new feeling that is I spreading throughout Canada in regard to our neighbors and allies, the American people There was in nearly every Canadian mind an impatience that amounted almost to animosity toward the United States during the first two years of the war. Why didn’t Uncle Sam “come in”? Why did he do this? Why didn’t he do that? He was an arrant coward, a money-grabber, a meddler. So opinion ran.

The same feeling showed in the press of the country. MACLEAN’S never shared in this attitude of impatience. A number of articles by Agnes C. Laut were published in MACLEAN’S with a view partly to explaining the difficulties of the position which the United States occupied. We feel that our attitude has now been fully justified nnd we take some pride in the

fact that we took this stand at a time when it was certain to be not popular.

All Canada is now growing to an entirely different viewpoint. It is seen that the American people are very much in earnest, that they are entering whole-heartedly into a struggle which will lay a heavy toll on them in men and money and from which they stand to gain nothing tangible, except the removal of the German menace.

There can be nothing but gain through the growth of this friendlier feeling. Closer and more amicable relations between Canada and the United States will work to our mutual advantage without any weakening of our Imperial tie.

The Conscientious Objector

THE conscientious objector is a puzzle, a rod in pickle for the authorities administering the Military Service Act. His attitude seems so unfair and illogical and even cowardly that there is a natural tendency to treat him harshly. He generally gets a severe buffeting when he comes before a tribunal. His holier-than-thou attitude irritates the officials. He seems priggish, mulish even, and blandly obtuse to any arguments save Biblical texts.

It is not just, however, to treat any conscientious objector harshly, because many of them are sincerely and bravely conscientious. If the authorities could only determine in each individual case where a man's conscientiousness ends and his mere objections begin, it would be possible to protect those who honestly object on religious principles and to find those who are working the pretext of a conscience. To the man who sincerely believes that taking a rifle in hand and going out to kill his fellow men is contrary to the religious principles he has espoused, consideration is due.

The strange part of it is that most conscientious objectors believe the cause of the Allies is a just one and that God has put it into the hearts of the British people to fight for the freedom of the world. Only, the stern duty of helping in the consummation of God’s purpose is not for them ! They remember a text or two that Christ spoke and they forget that, when the money changers invaded the temple, Christ took a scourge in hand and drove them out!

As said before, however, these strange, ridiculous and contradictory people are for the most part earnest and really conscientious. They should not be roughly treated at the tribunals. If it is decided that they must obey the mandate of the land which has raised and protected them, see that the law is obeyed. But, in the meantime, no persecution.

How Close Are We to Peace?

DEOPLE still ask this question, particularly when any matter comes up with reference to our part in the war. And the answer is, when the German is so badly beaten that he cannot even bluff—and not before.

A glimpse into the mind of official Germany provides a pretty clear idea of how near we are to the end of the war. Mr. Gerrard gives such a glimpse in his book, when he retails a conversation that he had with the then German Chancellor in the early days of the present year. He pressed Bethmann-Hollweg for information as to the terms that Germany would consider, particularly with reference to Bel-

gium. Germany, said the Imperial Chancellor, would withdraw from Belgium, but with guarantees—the forts of Liege and Namur, other forts and garrisons throughout Belgium, possession of the railroad lines and the ports, the right to retain a large army in Belgium and to have commercial control. Belgium, of course, would not be allowed to have a standing army. France would be evacuated, but with a rectification of the frontier. On the East a very substantial “rectification” of the frontier; Bulgaria to deal with Roumania; Austria to deal with Italy; a very small Serbia to be left; all German ships and colonies to be returned and indemnities to be paid by all countries; such was official Germany’s preliminary conception of peace terms in the early part of 1917! Since then Russia has practically dropped out and Italy has sustained a serious reverse. How close are we to peace?

In view of the prospects for the future it is almost funny to view the agitation which the Military Service Act has created. It may be only the first step in a long series of radical war measures. It is not inconceivable that before the Blond Beast is beaten it will be necessary for every man in the country to go— young and old, married and single, poet, professor and circus clown, chimney-sweeper and fop o’ the town, every man with two feet to walk upon and two eyes to see.

It is not likely, but it is not impossible. In the meantime we should be comporting ourselves as though it were certain. We should be preparing for the time when every man will be in uniform. We should be laying up reserves of everything—and saving food. We should be getting ourselves organized to let the men of the country away with the least difficulty. We should thrust from our minds all hope of an early and easy peace and resign ourselves to a grim struggle in which every personal com fort and privilege will be sacrificed.

When we get down to that basis, peace will be immeasurably nearer.

Using Business Brains

IT has been universally understood and, in fact, acknowledged that the machinery of Government in this country, in every country, has been slow, antiquated and expensive. The reason is clear enough. Governments have been composed of politicians. The kind of brain a man must have to be a successful politician is not the kind, generally speaking, that an administrator needs. Not only have our cabinets been made up of politicians but the officials under them have beer, political appointees. The result has been that the average government department has been the last place in the world to look for efficiency.

The war has changed this to some extent. In Great Britain reliance has been placed on business brains rather than political brains. In the United States a splendid nation-wide organization has been built up to put the best brains of the country at the service of the government. In Canada there has been a move in the same direction.

The move is going to require rapid acceleration. It does not matter which side is returned. Canada is going to demand more business and less politics at Ottawa.

THE EDITOR