Buried Treasure

By Geoffrey Crowther, first published 1939
Reprinted 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947
Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd
Nelson Discussion Books No. 19


"Of recent years, the passion for greater equality of incomes and welfare has become,
for many people, the mainspring of all thinking on economic problems." ( Page 171 )

"A democracy is not a democracy if some persons, by mere accident of birth, belong to an order of creation noticeably superior to the majority of their fellow men. Just as political democracy is incompatible with a hereditary ruling caste, so economic democracy cannot be reconciled with a hereditary plutocracy. Absolute equality of income need not be insisted on; but complete equality of opportunity is an essential element of democracy-and that will not be possible without a very great reduction in the present inequality of incomes." (page 171-172)

"The other aspect of the inequality of incomes which is harmful is the wealth of the wealthy. If we can draw a 'poverty line' and say that anybody below it has too little, then equally we can draw an 'affluence line' and say that anybody above it has too much. Money always breeds corruption, and there are half a hundred subtle ways in which the political and economic scales are tilted in favour of the very rich. Apart from this, the existence of great wealth and the social emulation to which it gives rise result in a great deal of sheer economic waste. The sight of great wealth is as disgusting as the sight of poverty is distressing." (page 174-175)

"The chief weapon for advancing this policy is that familiar under the title of the National Minimum. The basic idea of the National Minimum is that a minimum standard of elementary necessities should be laid down and that every citizen should be guaranteed that minimum as of right." (page 175)

"The completion and improvement of the National Minimum must therefore be the first task of a policy of increasing Equality. I would suggest two scale be drawn up-the Irreducible Minimum and the Decent Minimum.... The aim should be to establish the Irreducible Minimum at the earliest possible moment-as a matter of urgency-and to reach the Decent Minimum by a defined series of precise stages over the shortest possible number of years. The minimum once established, every citizen should be entitled to it as of right, without any taint of Poor Law or charity. The exact way of providing the different items will naturally vary case to case." (page 177)

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