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Compulsory Employment The mercantilist writers realized frankly that corollary to a guarantee of full employment is coerced labor for those who dont wish to work or to work in the employment desired by the guarantors. One writer summed up the typical view: it is absolutely necessary that employment should be provided for persons of every age that are able and willing to work, and the idle and refractory should be sent to the house of correction, there to be detained and constantly kept to labor. Henry Fielding wrote that the constitution of a society in this country having a claim on all its members, has a right to insist on the labor of the poor as the only service they can render. And George Berkeley asked rhetorically whether temporary servitude would not be the best cure for idleness and beggary? Whether sturdy beggars may not be seized and made slaves to the public for a certain term of years? 8 William Temple proposed a scheme to send the children of laborers, from the age of four on, to public workhouses, where they would be kept fully employed for at least twelve hours a day, for by these means we hope that the rising generation will be habituated to constant employment. And another writer expressed his amazement that parents tended to balk at these programs: Parents from whom to take for time the idle, mischievous, least useful and most burdensome part of their family to bring them up without any care or expense to themselves in habits of industry and decency is a very great relief; are very much adverse to sending their children from what cause, it is difficult to tell. 9 Perhaps the most misleading legend about the classical economists is that they were apologists for thestatus quo; on the contrary, they were radical libertarian opponents of the established Tory mercantilist order of big government, restrictionism, and special privilege. Thus, Professor Fetter writes that during the first half of the 19th century, the Quarterly ReviewandBlackwoods Edinburgh Magazine,staunch supporters of the established order, and opponents of change in virtually all fields, had no sympathy with political economy or with laissez-faire, and were constantly urging maintenance of tariffs, expenditures by government, and suspension of the gold standard in order to stimulate demand and increase employment. On the other hand theWestminsters[journal of the classical liberals] support of the gold standard and free trade, and its opposition to any attempt to stimulate the economy by positive government action, came not from believers in authority or from defenders of the dominant social force behind authority, but from the most articulate intellectual radicals of the time and the severest critics of the established order. 10 Southey Favors Nationalization In contrast, let us consider theQuarterly Review,a high Tory journal which always assumed that the unreformed Parliament, the dominance of a landed aristocracy the supremacy of the established church, discrimination of some sort against Dissenter, Catholic, and Jew, and the keeping of the lower classes in their place were the foundations of a stable society. Their leading writer on economic problems, the poet Robert Southey, repeatedly urged government expenditure as a stimulant to economic activity and attacked Englands resumption of specie payments (return to the gold standard) after the Napoleonic Wars. Indeed, Southey proclaimed that an increase in taxes or in the public debt was never a cause for alarm, since they give a spur to the national industry, and call forth national energies. And, in 1816, Southey advocated a large public works program for relief of unemployment and depression. 11 TheQuarterly Reviewsdesire for stringent government control and even ownership of the railroads was at least frankly linked with its hatred of the benefits that railroads were bringing to the mass of the British population. Thus, where the classical liberals hailed the advent of railroads as bringing cheaper transportation and as thereby increasing the mobility of labor, theQuarterlysJohn Croker denounced railroads as rendering travel too cheap and easy unsettling the habits of the poor, and tempting them to improvident migration. 12 The arch-Tory, William Robinson, who often denounced his fellow Tories for compromising even slightly on such principles as high tariffs and no political rights for Catholics, wrote many pre-Keynesian articles, advocating inflation to stimulate production and employment, and denouncing the hard-money effects of the gold standard. And the Tory Sir Archibald Alison, inveterate advocate of inflation, who even ascribed the fall of the Roman Empire to a shortage of money, frankly admitted that it was the agricultural class that had suffered from the lack of inflation since resumption of the gold standard.
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