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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

Get Down to Facts

Get Down to Facts.

We must get down to facts—truly diagnose complaints and their causes, decide their remedies, and then ascertair if ways and means are available. It has been said that many of the advertisements of modern patent medicines aim chiefly at persuading people they have got the disease rather than offer any reliable proof that it is curable—and many of our platform social physicians seem to follow the same practice. Heaven knows we all recognise the evils well enough. What is wanted is a true and permanent remedy, and that remedy is certainly not to be found by inflaming drafts of revolutionary rhetoric. I believe that where our deepest interests are concerned it is better to be told plain—if unpalatable—facts than be fooled by glorious lies about impossible Utopias. If to night I submit facts and figures which disappoint the hopes of any section oij the community. I claim that I am performing a useful if a thankless service.. I propose ta divide my address under three heads., viz.:—

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1st—A Defence,

2nd—A Criticism, and

3rd—An amendment of our Industrial Arbitration Act and under the first head to reply to the critics of my Wahganui speech. In my Wanganui speech I tried to establish the following propositions:—
1.That the English wage system was originally non-competitive and that until about the beginning of last century wages were determined and regulated either by law, custom, or the Craft and Merchant Guilds.
2.That such regulation save place under machine industry and the doctrines of natural liberty to a system of competitive wages.
3.That this system produced the socalled "iron law of wages," a bare subsistence or sweating wage, and with it produced evils so widespread and revolting as to set agencies at work to check its operation and lim't this "iron law." These agencies were philanthropy, public opinion trade unionism, and finally, legislation.
4.That this broad movement beginning with the wage regulation is passing through the stage of free competition, and in New Zealand, at least, is setting back to wage regulation again, thus illustrating in part Sir Henry Maine's principle of progress—from status to contract—and in part a reversion from contract back again to status.
5.That the most effective check upon the iron law of wages yet devised was the legislation which we call our Compulsory Industrial Arbitration, and that it was this Act winch arrested and exterminated the sweating—proved to exist in New Zealand before the Act came into force.