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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 6 (October 1, 1927)

Dunedin W. E. A. Economics Class

Dunedin W. E. A. Economics Class.

Much interest is being manifested in the Workers' Educational Association in and about Dunedin, and a striving class devoted to the study of Economics is now held weekly in the main office of the District Traffic Manager. Some months ago it was arranged that six lectures should be given dealing with matters of topical interest to railwaymen, and three lectures were delivered in the Railway Social Hall, Dunedin, the initial lecture, “The Function of Transport in Production,” being delivered by Dr. Allan G. Fisher, Professor of Economics at Otago University; the two following lectures, “The Transport Revolution of the Nineteenth Century” and “Will there be a Transport Revolution in the Twentieth Century?” being given by Mr. R. W. Souter, M. A. These lectures were well attended and were of great interest, but it was realised by both the lecturer and the class that from the point of view of class tuition they left something to be desired; it was then suggested, and unanimously accepted, that the lectures should take the form of instruction in economic theory, it being held that no appreciable progress was possible unless the class as a whole could approach the subjects scientifically. The change was attended with highly satisfactory results which disposed of any doubts which may have been held regarding the wisdom of the step: the membership increased to forty members, greater interest was displayed in the movement, and it was generally felt that the tuition was of the highest value to railwaymen, fulfilling a very necessary want in connection with a member's training, apart from the broader aspect of citizenship. Mr. Souter has gained considerable distinction in the Economic field and has imparted valuable knowledge in delivering his many lectures which have covered: “The Economic Problem (industry); the theories of “Normal Price,” “Monopoly Price,” “Distribution of Wealth- ‘Capital and Interest,’ ‘Labour and Wages”’; “Money-the mechanism of exchange”; “International Trade”; and “Banking and the Foreign Exchanges.” The members thought the subjects strangely inapplicable to their generally professed impecunious state, but thought the store of knowledge necessary against a sudden accession of wealth, which, however, does not often fall to the lot of the railwayman.

The value of the lectures is indicated by the interest of the many senior officers who attend them. These experienced members realise that the knowledge to be gained is now part of the essential equipment of the successful officer and they prevail upon the younger members to persevere in the study. As one remarked, “I wish I were twenty years younger to take full advantage of it.” The management has encouraged the class and it is clear that the service will benefit by the increased efficiency of the students.