The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 7 (November 1, 1933)
The American Sphinx—The German Acrobat—The Russian Magician—And the British Red Line.
How Hitler Quitted.
The manifold story of the world's economic ills was interrupted for a moment when Germany pushed armaments into the foreground by withdrawing from the Disarmament Conference. The armed Powers were proposing to reduce armaments over a period of years (about eight) and Germany was working for a degree of German re-armament—the German arms to come up to meet the other Powers' arms coming down. An English pronouncement, supported by others, that a Disarmament Conference could not be a re-armament conference was followed by Germany's withdrawal. If this move checks disarmament, the armed Powers will continue to endure the economic discomfort of costly armaments, or the economic disaster of another war. An eight years' liquidation of Europe's armed assets (which in the economic sense are liabilities) appeared to be really in sight, when Germany quitted!
A Great Adventure.
On the economic side, the American sphinx still smiles. That is to say, President Roosevelt speaks hopefully. But everyone feels that if this enormous experiment in control succeeds, it will be in the face of all estimates of the “sound” school of economists, and will mark a turning point in economic ideas. The Russian economy and Japanese economy are both on entirely different lines. In Russia, the State fixes the worker's standard. In Japan, the private employer fixes the standard. And both standards are low. But in the United States the Government fixes high standards, and expects private enterprise to find the money and bridge the gap between costs and prices. In Germany, much is heard about State interference with industry in the way of discouraging work by women, etc. But much of that seems to be nebulous. There is no evidence that Hitler's plan is really Rooseveltian, or that the German eagle is to become blue.
Russia's efforts to apply science to agriculture must interest all countries that export primary produce. Among many of these ambitious efforts is “vernalisation”—a pre-treatment of seed. “Vernalised” wheat, it is stated, is seed wheat which has been pre-treated by subjection to certain conditions of moisture and temperature, so that the reproductive process in the wheat is advanced before planting; and “crops grown from ‘vernalised’ seed have matured twenty to twenty-six days earlier than crops sown at the same time with untreated seed”— an important achievement in Russia's short hot summer, requiring quick ripening of wheat. A plant does two things—(a) it grows, and (b) it reproduces. The Russians say that reproduction need not wait entirely on growth. Reproduction can be given a flying start by pretreatment of seed. Thus reproduction (the wheat ear) will be effective at an earlier date in the growth-life of the plant.
Although it is only a few years since Stanley's day, when Africa was Darkest Africa, the exploitation of the continent has proceeded so rapidly that the interested Powers are already face to face with the problem of protecting wild life. Air-travel has helped the present international movement towards a protective pact, for the air-traveller sees the huge African distances crumpling up before his eyes, he sees the animals of Africa and their unique wilderness beneath his feet (or rather his wings), and he realises that terra incognita of the Victorian explorers is now opened to all the world. A conference of Governments concerned in Africa, to be held in London at the end of October, has on its agenda paper such questions as sanctuaries, prohibition of hunting with motor cars and modern killing machines, and the elaboration of policy concerning native hunting.
Twenty years ago red-lined maps, the red lines indicating British shipping services and trade routes were familiar exhibits, combining information with national propaganda. The map-makers of those days knew sea lines and land lines but not air lines. To-day they would be busy drawing airlines from the British Isles across Europe to the Eastern Mediterranean, thence bifurcating to India and South Africa. A red line would run up the Upper Nile (where Gordon died and Kitchener fought), across the Great Lakes (lakes of romance!) and over Congo forests to the Zambesi. And if the mapmakers were very up-to-date they would continue the red line from India to Australia—the latest commitment of the British and Australian Governments, to which New Zealand also gives a subsidy.