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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Enforced Idleness

Enforced Idleness,

compelled to live in garrets and cellars, or a very small house at the most; they wander about the streets seeking for work, which cannot be found; the little money saved soon goes; the furniture, bit by bit, is sold, then the tools, and then there are starving wives and children, and angry and desperate men. The great reason of poverty is idleness, but in nine cases out of ten this idleness is enforced. The Anglo-Saxon race, as a rule, wants to work, and would work if it could; but now to obtain work is often impossible.

My contention is that all this would be altered if we could enable labour to live on land. Then there would comparatively be but little idleness; for if the worker could live on, say, from one to ten acres, when work in the factory ran short, he could always find employment for a time on the little homestead, and thus it would mean a transference of labour from the factory to the land, or from the land to the factory, as it was required; and although the individual might experience some little inconvenience, the nation would not suffer as it does now. The advantages of enabling labour to live on land are very obvious. The workman's wife and family would do a great deal towards the cultivation of the holding, and they would draw much of their food supply from it. This would all be so much increased national wealth; and as the worker under these circumstances would not be reduced to starvation point, he and his family would the sooner be able to become customers for the factory, and thus we should not be subject to the terrible and long periods of trade depression that we are experiencing now.