THE WESTERN MAIL
& SOUTH WALES NEWS, Friday April 28th, 1933
War on Unemployment
Work in Italy and U.S.A.
Conference at Swansea
By GARETH JONES
Italy is suffering as much as most countries from the effects of unemployment. Although the majority of Italians are employed on the land,
more than 1,000,000 of the registered workers are idle. The unemployment benefit is exceedingly small (last summer it
was from 2 lire x 50 to 8 lire x 50, I.e., from 7d. to 9d. per day) and is only
given to a small proportion of the unemployed.
Behind the facade of the prosperous streets of Rome and Milan there is
great misery, which tourists rarely notice.
however, has waged his war on unemployment with rigour.
He has set thousands of men to battle against the marshes which for
centuries have spread the curse of malaria in many regions of Italy, and is
determined to reclaim for cultivation land which is now lying idle.
summer when I went to Rome, to find out what Mussolini was doing for the
unemployed I was rushed immediately in a Government car on the Rome-Naples road,
past ruins 2,000 years old, to the Pontine Marches, that malaria-infested plain
which Julius Caesar, the mediaeval Popes, and Napoleon tried to reclaim, but
failed. This land, covering 180,000 acres along the shore, of the
Mediterranean, is now to be made habitable, thanks to Mussolini’s policy of
encouraging the reclamation of marsh land and of settling landless peasants on
the retrieved soil.
enterprise could not carry out this task,” the Fascist, explained, as we saw
the vast ploughs plunging deeply into the earth; “only the State or a public
institution can do it.”
although the Italian State plays a great part in encouraging and financing the
draining of marches and settlement by the unemployed, Mussolini lays stress on
the private ownership of land. The
Pontine Marshes will house from three to four thousand families, it is hoped, in
two years time, and 60,000 people within ten to fifteen years. Each family will have its section of land of about fifty
acres, which it will own, together with a well-built house, stables and oxen.
I could not
help contrasting the Pontine Marches scheme, with its stress on the private
ownership of small family farms, with the vast Soviet State farms, the Verblud,
in Northern Caucasus, which I had visited two years earlier.
The acreage of the Verblud Farm was about the same as the Pontine Marshes
(nearly 200,000 acres), but the men working on it owned no land, no cattle, and
were paid a small wage. The Soviet
State farm according to the Soviet press has been a colossal failure, and its
manager has been branded as a traitor to the Communist party.
The Italian family farms in the Pontine Marshes, based upon the private
initiative and hard work of the individual, have probably far greater chance of
is also fighting unemployment by large schemes of public works, similar to those
which have been advocated by Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Keynes.
Roads and bridges are being built. Rome
is to be transformed, a task which was employing last summer about 6,000 men in
that city. Mussolini’s scheme,
however, leave untouched four-fifths of the unemployed.
is now following the example of Italy and Germany.
President Roosevelt, the United States new dictator, is forming a labour
army. Unemployed men who enrol take
an oath to remain in service for six months unless released earlier.
After being examined medically, instructed in their work, and clothed in
the Regular Army, they go in bands of one or two hundred to work camps in the
national forests, when they work for a dollar (4s. 2d.) per day and their food.
It is expected that 250,000 men will be employed in this way this summer.
One authority states: “The forests need the men, and the men need the
work the forests offer.
began her war upon unemployment years ago.
America launched this campaign in March 1933.
So far their efforts are mere palliatives in view of the mass nature of
the world is slowly learning how to tackle the enemy.
When will Wales make a big drive! There
is every prospect that the conference of the Welsh School of Social Service on
“Community Action and Unemployment,” which is to be held at the Methodist
Church (Wesley), College Street, Swansea, from Sunday afternoon next to Tuesday
evening, will point the way to more energetic action on many fronts.
START IN THE RACE
the plans which be speakers will discuss are the thoughts and inspiration of the
Master of Balliol and of Dr. Thomas Jones.
The Swansea conference will be a start in the race to catch up and beat
Germany, Italy, and America in the quality of
work. It will be a
declaration of war on the demoralising effects of unemployment in Wales.