March 17, 1936

“Old Bill” Suggests—

When one of the early New England colonies was starving through its first winter in the new world, it was saved by friendly Indians who brought food. The settlers were “unemployed” in the midst of a rich land because they had not learned how to hunt and trap successfully.

Later, when game was scarece, the Indian often was unemployed because there was nothing to hunt, while he had never acquired the technique, the energetic character, the foresight, required by agricultural labor. White man and Indian, each in turn, had suffered from what today we should call technological unemployment.

The machine does not reduce the number of jobs; it creates more jobs. But like the clearing of the forest for farms, it changes drastically the environment of economic life. Many casual workers have not the qualities needed in a highly integrated machine civilization any more than Daniel Boone had.

Common sense analysis of unemployment relief must recognize that a considerable part of it is permanent rather than temporary, that human kindness requires that people shall not starve, and that in many cases adaptations to such employment as may be available will take place only under leadership, persuasion, and considerable economic pressure.


This entry was posted in “Old Bill” Suggests. Bookmark the permalink.