4 HASKINS & SELLS April
UNEMPLOYMENT reserves as a corrective
of the present economic depression
are being advocated, debated,
scorned and berated by legislators, social
economists, labor leaders, and various
others. But as yet little has been heard
from the consumer, who always pays.
Being unorganized and having no official
spokesman, probably nothing will be heard
from him unless he awakes to the fact that
he has been saddled with an incubus, and
individually begins writing "letters to the
Considering this matter, one is reminded
of school-day problems in arithmetic. "If
six men can do a piece of work in four days,
how long will it take one man to do it?"
Anyone who ponders that question in its
application to unemployment reserves,
scarcely may escape a conviction concerning
Paraphrasing the foregoing question, one
might propound another, viz.: "If a certain
amount of individual purchasing
power can be developed out of a piece of
work which one man could do in twenty-four
days, and there are six men seeking
work, which would be the more desirable
from every point of view, to employ one
man or six?"
Assuming that one man were to be employed,
what would be the effect: on him,
on his employer, on the community, and
on the five men who were not employed?
The one man would spend his wages for
food, and shelter, and fuel, and perhaps
clothing. He would be sought by suppliers,
and would be the envy of the other five.
The employer would be the butt of jibes,
subject to threats and perhaps attack from
the unemployed. The benefit to the community
would be limited to the comparatively
few merchants from whom the one
man would buy. The other five men
would be without means to satisfy the
economic wants of themselves and those
dependent upon them.
How would the five men live? How
would they get food, shelter, and fuel?
Would they get such necessities from the
one working man; from the employer, out
of his own funds, or out of funds which he
might raise by taxing his customers; or
from the local government? Should they
receive these things gratis or in exchange
for their labor, or by way of obligation as
under a loan?
In these questions one finds most of the
troublesome features of unemployment insurance.
They are the essential points
which must be considered and they present
the main questions which must be resolved.
They may be summed up in one
representative question, "What to do with
workmen in periods of business depres-sion?"