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1938 1

Written By: - Date published: 9:17 am, May 19th, 2013 - 75 comments
Categories: 1938 - Tags: ,

A while ago a copy of The Standard (version 1.0 – the old newspaper) from 1938 crossed my (r0b’s) desk. Down through the years, lining a shelf in an old wardrobe. It wasn’t in perfect condition, but still perfectly legible.

In 1938 Europe is on the brink of war and Neville Chamberlain declares “peace in our time”. A minimum wage law is announced in America, and Du Pont names its new synthetic yarn “nylon”. Benny Goodman plays the first jazz concert at Carnegie Hall, and Pete Seeger drops out of college to begin his career as a folk singer.

In NZ Labour was in power, after a resounding victory in 1935. Two Ratana-aligned MPs had merged into the Labour Party (giving Labour a total of 55 seats), the beginning of a long association between these two organisations. Our copy of The Standard is from September 15th, 1938. Exactly one month later Labour, led by Michael Joseph Savage, went on to win the 1938 election (with 53 seats). One year after that NZ declared war on Germany at the start of WWII.

It’s a fascinating document, this 1938 copy. The Standard of old was a significant and powerful newspaper, very much more so than the minor amateur blog which now bears its name. I’d like to post (weekly on a Sunday) a section scanned from 1938. Just stuff, sometimes significant articles, sometimes advertisements or whatever, random voices from the past. I hope you’ll enjoy the wander. Some things change, some stay the same.

1938-header
Big version.

1938-audit
Big version.

“I see no reason why the government should apologise for helping the poor, and I am not going to apologise” — Michael Joseph Savage, September 15, 1938.

75 comments on “1938 1 ”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    A true Labour party that stood for the workers and poor of New Zealand and didn’t cuddle up to business.

    If only that wonderful party hadn’t been hijacked in a corporate takeover which continues to this day.

    • Rhinocrates 1.1

      Oh my God, it’s Banquo’s ghost!

      I see no reason why the government should apologise for helping the poor, and I am not going to apologise.

      Michael Joseph Savage, September 15, 1938.

      Labour makes no apology for stepping in to fix problems in the electricity sector. But this is not a signal that Labour is going to intervene elsewhere in the economy. As we said on the day we launched NZ Power, we have no plans to intervene in any other markets.

      Grant Robertson, Deputy-Leader of the Labour Opposition, 24 April 2013.

      One waves a red flag, the other waves a white flag. Neither apologises. One doesn’t need to.

    • Yes 1.2

      How can this be random story when it is all about labour? Why not the sports page

  2. Dv 2

    It would be good to get a bigger version, so easier to read.

    • r0b 2.1

      See the link “Big version” under each image. Open it in a new window or tab, and magnify if necessary.

      • Dv 2.1.1

        OOps
        Far to easy.
        Sorry!!

        • r0b 2.1.1.1

          No problem. I’ll look in to better ways of doing this.

          Update: OK, never noticed that before, but there is a way to link the image itself to the big version. In future posts in this series just clicking on the image will do the trick (updated this post with the fix too).

    • Clockie 2.2

      Hi Dv. Click on “Big Version” under the pic of the paper and then after it’s loaded use the zoom function of your cursor when you hover over the image. It expands up to a nice clear readable size.

  3. Frankie and Benjy Mouse 3

    I agree a more direct approach to some policies would be better. Even just pointing out lack of “skill” in the current government. For example; sell an asset returning 15% to avoid borrowing at 3%. RONs with poor cost benefits.
    I find I can learn a lot from old papers.
    for more below are links to other papers from the same date 15 Sept 1938 (I think I read that right).
    Auckland Star
    Evening Post

    Niupepa can teach you a lot as well.

  4. ianmac 4

    Good one Clockie. A single mouse click on my Mac on the Biog version. Thanks.

  5. Hilary 5

    That must be about the time the Social Security Act was passed which established the welfare state. It has its 75th anniversary this year but is not being marked by any conference or even a seminar series as far as I can tell – certainly nothing official. Such as pity.

    • RedBaronCV 5.1

      Around about here – leading to MP Mabel Howard’s campaign to extend the unemployment benefits to women who were required to pay social security tax (it was separate from Income Tax) but could not claim the unemployment benefit if out of work. Wealth transfers from females to males nothing much changes.

  6. mac1 6

    Such a record must have been a dream to defend as a politician. It reflects in the 1938 election results. An absolute majority for Labour in seats and votes from a 92% voter turnout.

    A government of high ethical standards with a voice in the community via papers such as the Standard and the newfangled radio was very re-electable. A party of candidates of high ethical standards with a large and active membership base which saw its economic and social betterment very much tied into political activism and awareness was very re-electable. A party which actually produced results for the common good as promised was very re-electable.

    I wonder whether lessons of history are still re-learnable?

    • ghostrider888 6.1

      sorry mac 1, my view on the last line, A Brave New World (consider the machinations of the C.I.A and Feds in Venezuela). Big money trumps Big Labour.

      • mac1 6.1.1

        Yeah, as one interested in history, the view that we are all going down the gurgler, that humanity is on the great decline, that there is no return does not fit with history. There are periods of social recession and periods of social advancement. Big Money was around in the time of the Greeks, Romans, Normans et al. Yet, we have advanced from then- considerably.

        I don’t buy the gloom and doom, but by cripes I’d keep a box of matches handy with some spare kindling, all the same, for any Dark Ages and my powder dry for any Dark Knights that might return.

        • ghostrider888 6.1.1.1

          ah, but the speed of the conveyed electron was not around them thar times.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.2

          mac1, the sustainable long term carrying capacity of this planet is somewhere around 1B population, give or take. 2B if you are being very generous and humanity gets its house in order.

          Whether it is in 25 years time or in 125 years time, that is the way that the numbers will begin to head. The fading away of economically available oil and phosphorus (phosphate rock) absolutely guarantees it. You spoke of history and the Greeks, Romans, Normans – look at what the population of the Earth was during each of those reigns. For 99% of human history, we numbered less than 500M total.

          It is only in the last 300 years that the human population has exceeded the long term carrying capacity of the planet. This is a brand new phenomenon in the 100,000 year history of modern humans, in other words. There is no comforting long term historical trend beyond that because what we are experiencing now is a one-off fossil fueled energy-intense blip on the long time line of the planet.

          Also you spoke of “social advancement” and “social recession”. Actually you need to speak of the creation and destruction of civilisations. Which happens to all civilisations. Do some people survive such an event – of course. But sometimes, not very many at all, and usually under unimaginably changed circumstances.

          • ghostrider888 6.1.1.2.1

            The Vandals, initially, then The Goths. 😀

              • ghostrider888

                only “seems such a Long Time Ago
                (better than ‘church’; the real ‘sacred and profane’)

                • Colonial Viper

                  was just hanging out at a local mall, sadly that’s the real church of the modern day

                  • prism

                    There was a piece on Chris Laidlaw Radionz this a.m. on Christian principles and drive in businesses. They talked about Sanitarium and then got onto the Quakers and Cadbury, Frys etc. They built strong flourishing businesses and found time to give Sundays off for church and family. As you say CV the mall – buy oneself heaven on earth.

                    I read a series by Jean Stubbs on the Howarth family with Quakers in the vanguard steel foundries etc. Wikipedia heading –
                    Ebbw Vale Steelworks was an integrated steel mill located in Ebbw Vale, South Wales. … 4 Richard Thomas & Baldwins; 5 British Steel … In 1793 Homfray bought out his partners with help from the Bristol-based Quaker family the Harfords, who in 1796 … Pulled by teams of horses, in 1829 Chief Engineer Thomas Ellis was …
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebbw_Vale_Steelworks.

                    • mac1

                      A fascinating piece of radio, especially for a Quaker.

                      The bit that interested me most was the businessman turned Christian who refused to open on a Sunday, allowing all his workers at least one day off in the week, even though it cost him, as a mall lessee. At the end of quite some period, despite his closing one day in the week, he outlasted all his competitors.

                      There is something to be said for being ethical in business. The Quakers discovered that. People prefer to do business with people who are known to be honest, or ethical.

                      I haven’t drunk a Moa’s beer since their anti-homosexual advertising spree. Haven’t suffered much, he said, finishing his glass of another’s fine product.

                  • ghostrider888

                    thats Od, I was thinking of Malls the other day; used to visit them and observe when I lived in, Ak, Palmy, and Christchurch in particular; little ‘worlds’ in themselves, with very clever human-management principles utilised; we don’t have them here, and I do not miss them at all; consider the prices in the food-halls, everything is inflated, $4-6 for a muffin etc; of course we do have the up-market cafe at the local New World…

              • mac1

                I read Shelley’s Ozymandias to my wife on Friday night. The poem is about, of course, the death of civilisations and how we remember them not; nor, as you’ve agreed below, do we talk much about the political leaders of his time.

                Though we do know the type that Shelley described-
                “………. whose frown,
                and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command….”

                But the thought occurred to me, as we toss ideas about, and lists of Babylonian Kings appear, that Shelley did write a poem about Ozymandias. Mankind survived and flourished after the death of Ozymandias, King of kings. And an Englishman was able to travel, with the leisure of his class, to write a sonnet, a form borrowed from another country and another age, upon a figure of antiquity, and have it published and read by a person in 2013 who had studied it in a university in two small islands in the South Pacific which had barely known man’s footfall for more than a thousand years.

                ” ‘Look upon my works, ye Mighty,and despair!’
                Nothing besides remains. Round the decay
                Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
                The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

                Except for Shelley’s footprints etc etc etc.

                And doubtless, in a few thousand years, they’ll be saying. “Shelley?”

                Reminds me of the poem by RAK Mason.”Latter Day Geography Lesson”

                “This, quoth the Eskimo master
                was London in English times:”

          • mac1 6.1.1.2.2

            Ghostrider888 was talking about Brave New World, corporations and the CIA, and I replied on that basis.

            Global Warming was not part of that discussion, as I saw it.

            Civilisations can sometimes collapse but not necessarily have a huge impact on the ordinary citizens. Who cared if it were the Romans, the Brits or the invading Angles, Saxons, Jutes and their brethren, as rulers who impacted just as much as one or the other upon the locals.

            Civilisations can collapse, dynasties fall, rulers change, but the sum knowledge of humanity is not lost, especially now with widespread disemination of knowledge as a result of GR888’s conveyed electron, nor the science etc, or the basic human beliefs.

            And of course, it can also be disastrous. Where are the Anasazi, the Minoans, the Trojans?

            If I were a woman, a child, a member of other than the majority race, creed, religion, etc., I bet I’d be better off now than in other times in history. As a human race, we have improved.

            But, as you point out, we have another challenge in Global warming. But I did not address that, in my earlier comments- and you are absolutely right. Our present world population and energy consumption both put our civilisation at risk. But, as you say, ordinary folks will still remain.

            The historian in me tells me that humanity actually thrived after the Great Plague. Much more land for every one, wages were better, resources made more available.

            And The Standard debates upon the worth of our political leaders will be much less urgent. 🙂

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.2.2.1

              The historian in me tells me that humanity actually thrived after the Great Plague. Much more land for every one, wages were better, resources made more available.

              Oh, I agree things never look that bleak…from the standpoint of individual survivors. (i.e. survivorship bias).

              but the sum knowledge of humanity is not lost

              I tend to think of that as a conceit of modernity. How were the hanging gardens of babylon built? How do you construct a pyramid in the desert? How did the mesopotamians treat infected wounds? We might believe that we know how something was done in theory, but that’s a far different quality and thoroughness of knowledge to actually being able to do it in real life.

              And today massive amounts of knowledge is stored digitally. Books from 500 years ago can still be read today. A book doesn’t care about a power cut, loss of connectivity or hardware failure. On the other hand, digital storage media may not even last 10 years, depending on changes in formats and deterioration of materials. How do you get information off an old 8″ floppy disk from the 1970’s? The basic answer – you can’t.

              If I were a woman, a child, a member of other than the majority race, creed, religion, etc., I bet I’d be better off now than in other times in history. As a human race, we have improved.

              Yes, life today is in general far better than 1000 years ago, but you also have to selectively skip periods of 20th century history to keep to this view. Every generation views itself as smarter and better than the one which came before it. Is it justifiable? Not always.

              And The Standard debates upon the worth of our political leaders will be much less urgent.

              Indeed

              • mac1

                “I tend to think of that as a conceit of modernity.”

                Time for me to say, Yes, that’s true.

              • Draco T Bastard

                A book doesn’t care about a power cut, loss of connectivity or hardware failure.

                Don’t kid yourself. Fire, building collapse, or any of another 1001 things can all happen to books. Ancient Rome and Greece had books – how many from that time survived?

                How do you get information off an old 8″ floppy disk from the 1970′s? The basic answer – you can’t.

                Actually, you probably could depending upon how well it had been stored.

                That latter part is what it really comes down to. How well has something been stored, what backups there are and continuing maintenance up to and including replacement of the original storage media. Get that right and information will last forever. Digital storage has a massive advantage in that it takes up far less room than paper.

                • ghostrider888

                  well I prefer them. 😀

                • Colonial Viper

                  You like complex technological systems and seem convinced that they will be maintainable going forwards. I tend to see them as fragile and breakable.

                  Digital storage has a massive advantage in that it takes up far less room than paper.

                  I notice the USAF is going to iPads for it’s flight manuals. A friend of mine asked – what will they burn for heat when they crash.

  7. Jimmie 7

    Interesting to read that Labour in 1938 resolved much of the unemployment by instigating a major road building policy. Now a days building new roads is considered anathema by the same party.

    Shows how much influence is wielded by the Greens over Labour currently.

    It must be getting claustrophobic in the far left corner with Labour/Greens/Mana all fighting for the same spot to stake their political claim.

    Also how anyone from the left can see Winne First getting into bed with the same have got to be kidding.

    At best Lab/Greens are good for 45% in 2014 – so where is the other 5% coming from??

    Whereas if Lab pitched more to the middle they might steal 5% off the Nats but hmm not looking likely at the moment.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Shows how much influence is wielded by the Greens over Labour currently.

      No, it shows that Labour have at least been learning about the limits of the world which National is ignoring because it proves them wrong.

      • ghostrider888 7.1.1

        Yep (and no, not sure how much Labour, collectively, have learned, at all).

    • Frankie and Benjy Mouse 7.2

      But building roads doesn’t need as many people today compared to 1938. The cost benefit of the RONS is NOT good. The money is better spent where there WILL be more jobs. Or feeding hungry kids.
      Bill English seems to think it is a SEP (“somebody else’s problem”).
      These are good for hiding your space ship behind a sight screen at Lords Cricket ground but will history show that it is better for the country. I think the future will be better (for everybody) if these hungry kids are fed at school (even if it is the government who feeds them).

    • Colonial Viper 7.3

      Roads made sense 70 years before peak conventional oil. Now, it’s rail which makes sense, and it’s time to start leaving personal road vehicles parked up.

    • Lanthanide 7.4

      “Interesting to read that Labour in 1938 resolved much of the unemployment by instigating a major road building policy. Now a days building new roads is considered anathema by the same party.”

      Isn’t it funny how things change over time? In the 1950’s, it would have been insane for the government to spend money buying computers. Now in the 2010’s it would be insane for them not to spend money buying computers.

      See how time works? How things in one time period make sense, and the same things in a different time period don’t?

    • Chrissy 7.5

      They were probably building a NEW road. NOt rerouting and renovating the old.

    • Tim 7.6

      Actually there was a helluva lot of rail development too http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/interactive/21378/new-zealands-rail-network-1880-1940

      And today we seem to make such a big deal about double tracking 10k of rail, or electrification, or building a few tunnels.

    • QoT 7.7

      Now a days building new roads is considered anathema by the same party.

      Totally off the top of my head, but maybe roads don’t vanish into thin air after a year and a day and we kind of have enough at this point? Because, you know, Labour built them when they were needed? Radical notion, I know.

    • millsy 7.8

      In 1938 the roads in this country were shit compared with today. If you wanted to get from Auckland to Whangarei you had a allow a whole day. Now it can be done in a couple of hours.

  8. mac1 8

    I recall hearing John A Lee, Minister of Housing in that Labour Government, speak at Canterbury University in the late sixties, strongly advocating for house building as a major way to boost the economy.

    I note that the population in 1938 was 1.6 million, 40% of today’s population. Savage’s government was building houses at the rate of 4000 a year according to the 1938 Standard, the equivalent of 10,000 a year in 2013 terms. This accords very close parallels to the modern Labour proposal to build 100,000 homes over 10 years.

    Do-able in 1938. Do-able in 2015. Lessons from History, part 2.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      The difference being that Lee was advocating the creation of social housing for every NZer, not cheaper homes for the otherwise comfortably off middle class able to pay off a $350,000 mortgage.

      • mac1 8.1.1

        My point still stands, CV. If social housing was possible at this rate in 1938, it’s surely possible now.

        Remember, too, though, and this is an important point, that the state housing of the 1930s and 1940s was housing for the average NZer- not housing just for the poor. The National government of the 1950s changed state housing into housing only for the poor. The state housing of the First Labour Govt was comfortable enough for average state civil servants to enjoy, and was provided for them as well.

        • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1

          Yes, true.

        • ghostrider888 8.1.1.2

          saw commentary on tele that a proposal by Industry / developers to address cost of building materials is to permit greater imports of affordable (cheap) materials, likely ex South East Asia; up go the climatic risks, down go the building standards.

          • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.2.1

            Home buyers will get a small fraction of the short term materials savings, the corporates will collect the rest for themselves thank you very much.

  9. prism 9

    Please do show the 1938 items. And some things remain the same, so we are faced with the variety of problems as then. One difference though we here now are living and breathing but some economic terrorists cut out the heart of Labour and ate it.

  10. Pete 10

    There are runs of The Standard held by the Turnbull Library and Victoria University in Wellington, Auckland University, and the Hocken Library in Dunedin. It’s a pity it’s not on Papers Past. In terms of contemporary newspapers, if there’s any need for context, there’s a run of the Auckland Star online to the end of 1945.

  11. Ad 11

    See if your local library has “The New Deal: a 75 anniversary celebration”, by Kathryn A. Flynn. A seriously beautiful homage, full of rich murals, epoch-making architecture, and orchestrated social combustion. The book emphasizes that revival was not only within hard infrastructure, but also within culture, and conservation, and basic civic-mindedness. Under the guidance of President Roosevelt, the New Deal:

    – Oversaw the planting of 3 billion trees, the construction of over 46,000 bridges, and the restoration of 360 Civil War battlefields
    – Created or nurtured over 30 symphonic orchestras, including those in San Francisco, Cleveland, and Chicago
    – Provided new homes and towns for thousands of impoverished Americans
    -Offered support and encouragement to such writers as John Steinbeck, Studs Terkel, John Cheever, and Stetson Kennedy
    – Provided work for thousands of artists whose creations grace many of American buildings today
    – Launched the photographic careers of Dorothea Lage, Gordon Parks, and ben Shahn

    I still have the Savage portrait in my study. His like may never appear again here. But if there were ever to be another New Deal type effort in New Zealand, it would need to be about more than utility and poverty alleviation and hard infrastructure. It would have to inspire movements beyond itself. It would be not only a legacy of personal elevation, it would have left a legacy within the imagination.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      This.

    • ghostrider888 11.2

      Two.

    • Puddleglum 11.3

      Three.

      It is a right-wing and middle-class conceit that working class people have no need for, or capacity to appreciate the best music, literature, poetry and art that our culture has to offer. It’s the same kind of thinking that justifies charter schools – that will basically be secondary school trade colleges – for Aranui children.

      One of my pet hates is the unctuous criticisms by right-wing politicians of state-funding of the arts – they call it intellectual and cultural elitism.

      The real elitism and snobbery, though, is the implication that working people have no inclinations or desire to enjoy what those same right-wing critics spend their time enjoying. Hypocrites.

        • ghostrider888 11.3.1.1

          wonderful movie; I’m as downbeat as they blow. 😀

        • mac1 11.3.1.2

          Or something like the Ros Valley Miners’ Choir singing “Ave Verum”. Music was what made working in a stinking, dirty and dangerous colliery possible since it offered an absolute contrast to the pit. This gave us Welsh choirs and colliery brass bands.

          It was one of the joys of my theatrical life to play the part of the euphonium player, Harry, in Brassed Off along with our local A grade brass band and to finish the play by ‘conducting’ them (whilst they ignored me, since I couldn’t conduct properly) as they played Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Their playing was superb and based as it was on the Grimesthorpe Colliery band, it was music at its best, played by working class folk. Most of our local band were, too. The conductor’s an engineer, the players were civil servants, Air Force, or working folk.

          I got to sit in the middle of this band as they played the Florentiner March, slow hymn airs, and ‘Orange juice’ by Rodrigo; it was thrilling, spine-chilling magic, transcendant of class, background or educational achievement.

      • ghostrider888 11.3.2

        I’ve observed the “manufactured” tastes of the middle-classes and above; we discussed this topic today, deconstructing the chattels in television advertisements set in and around the homes of the ‘target’ demographic / s.

    • xtasy 11.4

      WOW, and that could all be physically, mentally and financially “done” then, while English serves us up a half baked, crap budget? Times have changed, since Chicago Boys gangsters took over the reign!

  12. Jenny 12

    I see no reason why the government should apologise for helping the poor, and I am not going to apologise. Michael Joseph Savage, circa 1938

    I see no reason why the Government should apologise for helping the rich, and I am not going to apologise. John Key, circa 2013.

  13. Chrissy 13

    I wonder how long johnkeys mother stayed in her state house?

  14. Chrissy 14

    I would love to see that article taken out as a full page ad in the Herald. And it is so right that national ARE just reactionaries.NO policies of their own but react to anything that Labour/Greens bring. Such a sad little bunch of losers.Even if they win the next election national will always be losers.

    • Puddleglum 14.1

      Good idea about the ad in the paper.

      I also noticed that, when referring to the National Party as reactionaries, the article pointed out that they (the reactionary opposition National Party) could never leave Labour’s achievements in place because that would upset their moneyed backers.

  15. North 15

    Oh Goodness…….12 years and one month before the day of my birth. Not a very long time in the scheme of things. I feel the essence of what he said. Get fucked selfish people. These rules still apply !

  16. xtasy 16

    Amazing stuff, thanks for presenting this publication from 1938. I have a strong interest in history, and that encompasses all parts of the world, certainly also New Zealand. I wish more people would learn and understand the history of social and worker’s rights policies in NZ, and we would the “there” to win in 2014. Maybe show this to Shearer and co also, just to “remind” them?!

  17. Macro 17

    And that is all that is needed today… But you tell that to the young Labourite of today – and they will Never Believe You!

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