The Social Plan

Original Text: 
Stephen Leacock, Hellements of Hickonomics in Hiccoughs of Verse Done in our Social Planning Mill (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1936): 3-4. PS 8523 E2H4 Robarts Librray.
2Who keeps on saying, "Social Plan."
3        At every Dinner, every Talk
4        Where Men foregather, eat or walk,
5        No matter where, -- this Awful Man
6        Brings on his goddam Social Plan.
8The social Breakers dead ahead,
10    That drives the Nation on the rocks,
11The Wheels that false Abundance clogs --
12And frightens us from raising Hogs, --
13    This dreary field, the Gloomy Man
14    Surveys and hiccoughs, Social Plan.
16His croaking aggravates their mind,
17    And makes them anxious to avoid
18    All mention of the Unemployed,
19And leads them even to abhor
20The People called Deserving Poor.
21    For me, my sympathies now pass
23    The Crowd that now appeals to me
24    Is what he calls the Bourgeoisie.
25So I have got a Social Plan
26To take him by the Neck,
27And lock him in a Luggage van
28And tie on it a check,
29    Marked MOSCOW VIA TURKESTAN,
30    Now, how's that for a Social Plan?

Notes

1] Leacock says in his preface (pp. v-vi) to his only book of verse:
Lecturing the other day before a brilliant galaxy of young men and women, known, in the college where they belong, as Economics Three, there occurred to me, and I used, the metaphor of a social reformer sitting as a raven on the window-sill and croaking `Social Plan.' Economics Three woke up and laughed. This gave me the idea that it might be of great service if economic problems could be discussed in the form of the literature of the imagination. This would help to remove the argument from the angers and the bitterness that so often surround it. If we cannot discuss it like gentlemen, let us at least discuss it like idiots. Having got the idea, all I had to do was to write this book.

Of the economic basis of this book I would like to say this. Forty years of hard work on economics has pretty well removed all the ideas I ever had about it. I think the whole science is a wreck and has got to be built up again. For our social problems there is about as much light to be found in the older economics as from a glowworm. Only one or two things seem to me clear. Cast-iron communism is nothing but a penitentiary. Sooner or later either it is doomed or man is doomed. I believe that the only possible basis for organized society is that of every man for himself, -- for himself and those near and dear to him. But on this basis there must be put in operation a much more efficient and much more just social mechanism. We need not a new game but a new set of rules. There must be bread and work for all; and that ought to mean mighty little work and lots of bread.

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7] During the 1930s Depression, as a result of crop failures owing to drought, and "the lowest price for wheat in recorded history, total [Saskatchewan] provincial income plummeted by 90% within 2 years, forcing 66% of the rural population onto relief" (The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2nd. edn. [Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988], II, 933). The Canadian Wheat Board was created in 1935. Back to Line
9] Leacock may refer to the existence of the Depression despite a sound dollar and a balanced federal budget. Back to Line
15] simpler: "simplier" in the original text. Back to Line
22] Plutocratic Class: the wealthy. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1936
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.