Mr. Wr. F. KUHL (Jasper-Edson):
The necessity or otherwise of the social legislation envisaged in the resolution before us is, I believe, entirely dependent upon the nature of the economic order which we wish to obtain in the post-war period. Personally I can conceive of an economic order in which the necessity of such legislation is entirely eliminated. My colleague the hon. member for Camrose (Mr. Marshall), in speaking this afternoon, stated that if the proper economic adjustments were made, much of this social legislation would be unnecessary. I agree entirely wdth his statement. I believe that many of these special problems which we are considering, including insufficient old age pensions, the need of pensions for the blind, and inadequate health facilities, are part of a major and fundamental problem affecting the whole economic body, and that if the disease which is common to that whole economic body is eliminated, many of these problems which are regarded as special will take care of themselves.
It seems to me that our approach to this whole post-war question is analogous to that of the construction of a house. It would be foolish, of course, for a builder to consider where he was going to put the chimney, or to begin to place the chimney, or to arrange the walls or any part of the superstructure, before he built the foundation. We are proposing to erect the national edifice which is to be a fit habitation for our nation's heroes. In listening to most of the debate which took place on the resolution pertaining to post-war rehabilitation, as well as to what has already been said in the present debate, I had the impression that for the most part it has centred round the superstructure, Whereas I believe that the first duty of the membership of this house as well as of the committees which have been set up is to determine the fundamentals which are to operate in our economic system. We must first fix our objectives and then govern ourselves accordingly. I do not believe that thus far this has been done. There has been very little discussion of the objectives which we are to pursue in the post-war world. But discussion of these objectives is extremely appropriate and pertinent at this time.
I wish to occupy a few minutes this evening in endeavouring to indicate what I consider are the objectives toward which we ought to strive in our economic life. The only fundamental objective which I have been able to discover in any of the addresses made thus far by hon. members is that of full employment. I cannot agree or disagree with that objective unless I know what meaning hon. members attach to it. From every side we have heard the words "full employment" as expressing an objective. But what constitutes full employment? What do those who have used the term have in their minds as to what it means? We ought to have a clear definition of the terms we use. One writer tells us that definition is the breath of science and that fruitful discussion in any field presupposes and begins with a common definition. I cannot see that we can make any progress with any discussion we undertake unless, to begin with, we define our terms.
If hon. members who have thus far employed the expression "full employment" agree with my definition of it, perhaps I can concede that full employment is a fundamental and legitimate objective. I shall endeavour if I can to clear the air a little with respect to this question of full employment and work. Generally speaking, all work may be divided into two classes. There is forced labour, and there is voluntary, self-chosen, self-initiated activity. Forced labour in turn may be
divided into two classes. There is forced labour imposed by nature, the kind of work which God referred to when He told Adam that outside of paradise nature would yield bread only by the sweat of his brow. Then there is the labour that is forced on man by other men, such as slave owners and bankers, who declare from their high position that men shall not eat-not without nature's consent, but without their consent.
Work which is imposed on us by nature is necessary, natural and dignified. On the other hand, labour which is forced on man by other men is unnecessary, unnatural, artificial and degrading. One thing that many members of this house, as well as orthodox thinkers outside, refuse to recognize, or have done thus far, is that the condition of unemployment is the consequence of the tremendous advancement of technology. We have yet^ to hear from these orthodox thinkers that it is the substitution of solar energy for human energy that has brought about the condition of unemployment. Also the orthodox thinkers refuse to acknowledge that because the machine has taken the place of manual labour it also takes away a man's job as well as his income. They refuse to recognize that, as a consequence of this, man is suffering, not from unemployment but from "unempayment", which is a vastly different thing. I hope to elaborate that point later. Just now I should like to give a few statistics indicating the extent to which solar energy has been substituted for human energy, as a reason for the condition of unemployment that prevailed before the war and that certainly will prevail after the war unless changes are made. On previous occasions in speaking on this question in the house I have submitted quite elaborate statistics indicating the extent to which machinery has displaced human labour. I do not intend to go to the length I have gone in the past, but I wish to submit a few figures to substantiate my argument. Most of the figures I am submitting -were given by the president of the United States chamber of commerce several years ago.
In the shoemaking industry one machine operated by two men can produce a thousand pairs of shoes in one day. I would ask hon. members who suggest that the duty of industry is to provide jobs, how they are going to find jobs in industry for all those who desire to make shoes when two men with one machine can make a thousand pairs of shoes a day. It has been estimated that sufficient shoes for a whole year for every man, woman and child in the whole United States could
be manufactured in sixteen days. What are the workers to do for the rest of the year if they are obliged to earn their living by being employed?
Again one man with one bottle-making machine displaces fifty-four men. Two men with one coal-conveyer displace fifty men. One man with one window-glass making machine replaces twenty men. One machine produces 525 light bulbs per minute.
Here is an interesting item on the question of public works. We have heard again and again suggestions on the part of hon. members,. particularly the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol), that public works is one way in which the unemployed can be- and should be absorbed. In digging the Suez canal four thousand men dug a quantity of ground. Many years later in the construction of the Welland canal five men did the same amount of work, or five men doing as much work as four thousand did before. If we are to take advantage of technological advance and use machinery, which certainly should be a blessing instead of a curse, where shall we find jobs for all those who will be without jobs?
The same thing applies to agriculture. Here is one item. In 1820 fifty-seven man-hours of work were required to produce twenty bushels per acre; to-day it requires only eight manhours. Where are the people going to find employment on the farms at that rate? Again, one planting machine sets twelve thousand plants an hour.
The substitution of solar energy for human energy has taken place not only in the agricultural world and the manufacturing world; it is also true in the white-collar occupations. One girl with one machine is able to deal with sixty thousand ledger entries in one hour, displacing sixty clerks. Where are the jobs coming from under those circumstances?
We have some interesting statistics that have arisen during the war, indicating the reduction in man-hours per unit of production. Here are some with reference to the production of guns. I quote from the Financial Post. The first two-pounder anti-tank gun required 1,219 man-hours of work; it now requires only 350. The first 6-pounder anti-tank gun required 930 hours of work; it now requires only 375. The first 40 mm. Bofors gun barrel required 186 man-hours of work; it now requires only 45. The constant trend is to the reduction of the number of man-hours required per unit of production.
An interesting item appeared in the February 27 issue of the Financial Post in reference to motor-car production. It stated that before
the war the motor-car industry produced automobiles to the extent of one for every eight [DOT]Canadians. After the war, it indicated, the industry would be able to produce one for [DOT]every four Canadians. This tremendous production, with a comparatively small number of man-hours of labour, is made possible largely through the development of electrical energy. The hon. member for Davenport has given ns many interesting and profitable talks dealing with the erection of power plants and similar enterprises, but has it not occurred to him that every time a power plant is built, [DOT]each new horse-power provides the equivalent of the work of ten men.
Topic: SOCIAL SECURITY
Subtopic: APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SOCIAL INSURANCE