The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
Part III. — Chapter IX. — What Might and What Ought to be Done
What Might and What Ought to be Done.
To make this grand country like France we must people it with thousands of small farmers, and this may be accomplished under the State co-operative farm system. The State is the guardian of our orphans, and should retain that function until they are of the age of twenty or twenty-one. Every orphan boy who is physically able should be brought up to farming and be instructed in every branch of the industry, with the view of becoming a farmer.
Any person of common-sense knows that the people constitute a State as land constitutes an island or a country. The people select from amongst themselves a number of intelligent men to rule or guide the State, whom they call a Government. In order that I may be better understood, I will, so to speak, divide the State. All who are depending upon Government for assistance, such as the inmates of the hospitals, asylums, orphan homes, and gaols, the destitute and unemployed, I will call the State. The remainder, who can live without the assistance of the Government, I will call the people. Now, we have the State on one side and the people on the other. The people can live without the State, but the State cannot live without the people, so the Government have to tax the people to support the State. The people expect that a wise intelligent Government will make wise and equal laws for the good of the people and the State alike, expending all moneys and supplying all wants on the best and most economical principles possible. Then, in order to accomplish such things, would it not be wise for the Government to have State co-operative farms and stores, so as to provide remunerative employment for all surplus labour, and let that surplus labour produce, so far as it can, the requirements of the orphan homes, hospitals, gaols, asylums, and the aged and needy? And why not have their own mills and grind their own grain and corn, producing their own flour and oatmeal? Why not have their own tanneries and make their own leather? Why not have their own woollen factories, working up their own material into blankets, producing all wearing apparel, and so supplying those page 31 hospitals, gaols, asylums, orphan homes, and the hands on the State farms?
The reader may object, and say the State has no right to go in for all this commercial industry. Have I not already shown, and have you, the people, not already experienced, the heavy tax you have been called upon to pay to support such places, and how un-satisfactory it has been done? Again, have I not shown that the people are able to support themselves? Now, a good and a wise Government may relieve the people of the charitable-aid or poor-rate tax, and try to make the State support itself. Amongst the people there are a number of contractors who not only live, but actually enrich themselves, by contracts to Governments for supplying the requirements of the above-named institutions. Let me put before you, the people, this question: Suppose the Government invite tenders for the supply of meat, bread, butter, milk, &c., for those places, and twenty tenders are sent in, only one is accepted; but the other nineteen people continue to find a living; and so would the twentieth if he had not got the contract. Then, let the Government, by all means, provide a method by which the State can support itself, at all events in the industries already mentioned. Such a Government would be a truly Liberal, yet an economical, Government, and a friend to humanity. I have shown clearly how unfairly our poor rates are administered, and have proved how numbers suffer hunger and privation rather than appeal for help by charity. I hope the reader will not misconstrue such a system as this as a system of charity. It is no such thing. It is simply providing a means whereby all who are able may earn their own maintenance, and be saved from becoming paupers. As I have already said, we, the people of New Zealand, are one national family, and it is our duty to provide a home for our brothers and sisters who are in want and unable to provide for themselves. There is no charity in it; it is a right and a claim they have upon their stronger brothers and sisters. Surely we who are strong and healthy, and able not only to earn our own living but luxuries also, ought not to begrudge reasonable necessary food, clothing, and shelter for our less fortunate brothers and sisters.
I am not one of those who would bring all men on an equality; but I do contend that no one, be he who he may, has any right whatever, either by the laws of God or man, to five, ten, or twenty thousand pounds a month or a year whilst we have others wanting food, clothing, and shelter. Provide food, clothing, and shelter for the needy; then and not till then should the wealthy enjoy their luxuries.