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The Great Money Trick

From the novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressel (published 1914), this story traces a year in the life of a group of painters and decorators in the town of Mugsborough in the early twentieth century. Haunted by fears of unemployment, the men struggle to keep their jobs at any cost but, in the course of events, some of them begin to realise that their condition of miserable poverty is neither ‘natural’ nor ‘just’. Robert Noonan (Tressell is a pen-name) was a painter and decorator himself and drew on his own experience of working life in contemporary Britain.

THE GREAT MONEY TRICK

"Money is the real cause of poverty," said Owen.

"Prove it," repeated Crass.

"Money is the cause of poverty because it is the device by which those who are too lazy to work are enabled to rob the workers of the fruits of their labour."

"Prove it," said Crass.

Owen slowly folded up the piece of newspaper he had been reading and put it in his pocket.

"A…