The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 6 (December 1, 1931)
Christmas in a Self-fed Country—Farm Board and Price War—Hinkler's Christmas Box—Ghandi.
If Christmas this year reflects to some extent the general economic cloud, this will probably be less the case in New Zealand than anywhere. When depression is world-wide, the Northern Hemisphere faces Christmas and the New Year in the season of cold and scarcity. Here “the festive season” falls at least in the season of warmth and plenty. If one had to choose between living in a land which has to sell food oversea, and living in a land which has to buy food oversea, the choice should be soon made. A country that cannot feed itself, lives, in grim truth, on trade. A country that feeds others may be poor in money but in the final analysis is rich. Let New Zealanders rejoice in their sun and soil. There are no better.
Beer is Tax-shy.
Christmas in the Old Country will have less of “wassail,” but may not be poorer for that. The cup that flows has been flowing at a lessened rate, if the Treasury barometer is correct. There was once an idea that the tax-yield of luxuries, or, at any rate, of beer, was limitless, but the putting of an additional penny on to the British beer-tax, if it has nor “dried up the source,” has certainly reduced the October revenue figures. “The breweries,” says the Daily Express, “will pay less to the Exchequer than if the beer tax had not been raised a penny a pint. Treasury officials admit that the new tax is a failure.” Once it was axiomatic that the British nation would get rid of a deficit in a glass of beer. The flowing bowl dissolved trouble, and the brewers could balance a Budget. Has appetite shrunk, or has it wandered into new and less taxable avenues?
Prices Laugh at Board.
What the economist, John Dewey, has called “perhaps the greatest of socialist experiments by the party of individualism” has published some sort of a balance sheet. This organisation, the United States Federal Farm Board, reports that, to support the market, it bought huge quantities of wheat at averagely 81,97 cents, and cotton at 16.3 cents; the market prices at November 24 were 55 cents and 6 cents respectively. Not only did there huge purchases and storages fail to hold prices, prices (it is reported) actually became depressed, because the stored stocks and the uncertainty of their disposal overshadowed the market. Swaps of U.S. surplus wheat for Brazil surplus coffee availed not. Besides the obvious page 54 Josses on purchased stocks, there are undisclosed Farm Board losses on loans based on the former high prices. A couple of years ago President Hoover, that great individualist, warned against “buying, selling, and price-fixing.” His opposition was worn down. The slump did the rest.
Prestige of League.
How will the League of Nations come through the greatest crisis in its career? At time of writing it would seem that the League has succeeded in stopping—pending inquiry—the undeclared war that has been going on between Japanese and Chinese armies in Manchuria, but the situation remains dangerous. There are difficult questions to answer, such as: who is right, and what is the penalty when a nation intervenes with armed force because its nationals may have lacked protection under another Government? There would seem to be no such charge against China that could not be brought with double force against Russia. But China has vulnerable provinces, an immigration prize. Russia's attitude to these Manchurian events remains obscure. Though the League was flouted in the East, Britain and France have asked it to adjudicate on the Irak-Syrian frontier.
The Australian airman Hinkler's wanderings over the two America's resulted at last in a flying sensation—probably the culminating flight of 1931. When he started hopping about in North America, Hinkler was pursued by newspapers that scented a big flight plan, but as he worked southward they appeared to forget about him, and when he made his final dash over the South Atlantic (west to east) he seems to have taken everybody by surprise. When he landed at Bathurst (Gambia) from Natal (Brazil) he had made three records—first trans-Atlantic crossing by a light aeroplane, first west to east crossing of the South Atlantic, and first solo crossing of that ocean. He was not exactly solo, for he carried a Brazilian monkey mascot, but she will not disqualify him for the solo record.
Smuts on India.
“Although the Conference failed to find an agreement on many fundamental questions and a great many details, it has played a very useful part.” Thus said the Secretary for India, Sir Samuel Hoare, in defending the India Round Table Conference from Mr. Churchill. British newspaper attacks on Mr. Gandhi are now renewed, and he is accused of showmanship. But just such comment, with ridicule, was poured on his Indian march to the saltfields. Ridicule did not prevent his subsequent loin-cloth parade in Europe and London, nor will ridicule kill him now. So big a man as General Smuts does not dismiss Gandhi and the loincloth as showmanship. He “believes in the sincerity of Mr. Gandhi…. Britain must go pretty far to satisfy India, and the sooner the better.”
Is Germany Solvent?
After Britain went off the gold standard, the French Premier, M. Laval, went to Washington and agreed with President Hoover that the United States and France should co-operate to maintain the gold standard, and to overhaul and modify inter-Governmental debts. Without this latter, no general improvement in the world's affairs can be relied on, and the world is still waiting to see some tangible results of the Hoover-Laval conversations. World opinion is being steadily marshalled against debts, armaments and tariffs, but is slow to crystallise, and short-term debts are pressing. Germany owes large sums, both short and long. In the years 1924–29 the United States and Britain lent heavily to Germany, publicly and privately. The idea was to finance the Germans for big production. Then came the fall of sales and crash of prices.
The Locked Gates.
Since the initial concession of the United States (the Hoover moratorium) there is good ground to hope that eventually page 55 a solid reduction of inter-Governmental debts will be made. But when Sir George Paish talks about all banks being practically insolvent, the question is raised whether the politicians are moving too slowly. Progress in the tariff sphere is slower still, and those who emphasise the impossibility of collecting (in goods) overseas debts, over high tariff fences, see little light. To them it is like ordering your grocer to deliver, and then locking the gate. In a quite different sphere are the buyers' preference campaigns, which are entirely an appeal to the individual. It is a sign of our times that the patron of “Buy British” is the King's son; the patron of “Buy New Zealand” is the King's representative.
The Song of Speed.
Traffic And Locomotive Staff At Woodville In 1900.
Front row; Messrs. F, Thomas, W. Wells, W, B. Harris. Second row: T. M. Brerman, T. Hutchins (junr,), W. P. L. Carter, G, S. J. Blackmore, A. J. Haslemore, S, Wood. Third row: J. A. Lloyd, R. Russell, E, G. Wilson, (S.M.), A. R. Williams. Back row: M. C. Stewart, G, Burns, W. Greig, W. Heard, H. Thomas, M. Travers, C, E. Stone, A. Hill, J, A. Vickers. A. L. Fraser, T. Hutchins (senr.), T. Hay.
Revolution of the 90's.
Probably no one is brave enough to fly the early aeroplanes (if they survive), but drivers are found for the picturesque procession (London-Brighton) of ancient motor cars, including one rescued from abandonment in New Forest, where it had been a bird roost. Thus the world is reminded that the motor car began in the last decade of the Nineteenth Century, and the aeroplane in the first decade of the present century. Engine development of the former helped the latter. The winner of this year's London-Brighton race for the “old crocks” had spent fifteen idle years in a barn. In a 1903 Rolls Royce, Sir Malcolm Campbell took nearly four hours to do the sixty miles.