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Susan Green

Sauce for Big Business Is ...

(14 April 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 15, 14 April 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Kiplinger Washington Service – for value received – send its clients weekly letters on what’s brewing in Washington. Businessmen like to know ahead of time what’s coming out of the capital, It helps them in their pursuit of rapidly multiplying profits. I base the following items on information contained in recent Kiplinger letters. I figure that workers, in their just pursuit of life and a living, need this inside information – even if they are not paying clients.

All branches of the capitalist government are head-hunting for workers on strike to increase their wages to meet the rising cost of living. Knudsen and Stimson order the Al1is-Chalmers strikers back to work. State legislators propose laws to draft workers who strike. Some national legislators go so far as to propose the death penalty for strikers. And policemen and state troopers: are ordered by mayors and governors to do their stuff.

Under these circumstances you would exactly expect the government policy at the present time to be to ALLOW the cost of living to rise. Yet this astounding information is contained in the Kiplinger letter of March 15.

It is stated in that letter, and underlined for emphasis, that food prices will rise. Then comes the juicy morsel that in Washington “at present the rough official idea is to let them rise about 10 per cent before putting on the brakes.”

Regardless of why the government stands behind a 10 per cent increase in the cost of living, to be fair it should also stand behind a 10 per cent increase in wages. Instead this “democratic” government, city, state and federal, emerges as strikebreaker No. 1.

Is this a contradiction? Only if you don’t know that the job of a capitalist :government is to govern for the capitalists.

On the subject of “putting on the brakes” on rising prices, Kiplinger gives another bit of valuable information. But first I must tell you about Mr. Arnold, head of the anti-trust division of the Department of Justice, who very recently wrote a fat book called The Bottlenecks of Business. In it he showed most graphically how greedy monopolies have absolute control of certain commodities, fix prices, limit distribution, all in the interest of greater profits.

In his book and in speeches, Mr. Arnold promised to open up these bottlenecks of business by prosecuting all violators of the anti-trust law. In this way he was going to lower prices to the government and the consumer, keep down the cost of living permanently and in fact make milk and honey flow in all directions – even in the direction of the poor, which, of course, was a lot of hooey.

Comes Kiplinger’s letter of March 15 definitely advising its clients that from now on Mr. Arnold’s department will have very little to do. The government has made it clear to the captains of industry that there will be no anti-trust enforcement nonsense “for the duration,” as they are saying in Washington.

Writes Kiplinger: “This will not be announced ... (in fact announcement may be the other way). But it will be essential line of policy” Then the Kiplinger scribe put down the sentence: “Government price policing or fixing can prevent abuses of collusion,” and with tongue in cheek added the significant words, “they think.”

The only brakes working are those on WAGES.

Conscripts in the military camps who have gone there with the soothing notion that all will be over in a year will soon have it blasted out of their heads. A law is likely to be passed in the fall EXTENDING THEIR SERVICE. This extension of service will go into effect if the country gets into the war or if we have an “emergency.” “Regardless of the chances of ‘war,’ the chances of an ‘emergency’ are very great ... so great that plans should be made largely upon it.” Thus Kiplinger to businessmen.

You conscripts who thought a year’s training might not hurt you! The rosy promise of soon returning to a job, the besom of your family, peacetime pleasures, was only propaganda to ease you into the bosses’ army. “You’re in the army new” – and now – and NOW. The imperialists will be finished with you when they are finished with their war for world domination – unless a bomb gets you first.

Kiplinger predicts that “production for many civilian purposes is bound to be curtailed.” In the crazy concentration on manufacturing war equipment, making goods just for human needs takes a back seat. One of the reasons is that plants producing civilian goods will not be permitted to get the raw materials they need, The workers in these industries are sitting on a volcano.

Already there have been shutdowns. Already many workers have been thrown out of work. More shut downs will come. More workers will be out of jobs.

The theory is that such shut-out workers can find jobs in war industries. That’s easier said than done. They are skilled in other lines. An expert on ladies’ hats would not be much good at making airplanes. To train for new trades takes time and is a terrible hardship. For older workers it is almost impossible. (The younger ones are, of course, invited to join the army.) Why should the bread be taken out of the mouths of these workers and their families!

The capitalist who shuts down his plant continues to live in luxury and makes his adjustment to the more lucrative war economy without giving up his yacht and mansion. With the worker it is quite different. In England, at the height of war production, hundreds of thousands of shut-out workers were, and still are, out of jobs.

Here is a challenge for militant unionism. Before the executioner’s knife falls upon the livelihood of thousands and thousands of workers, demands should be made upon the Office of Production Management for the continued flow of raw materials to the plants producing peace-time goods.

Workers want jobs – not a bosses’ war!

While workers are exhorted to be “patriotic” and make sacrifices to to preserve “democracy,” Kiplinger’s letters make no bones about the fact that “democracy” will no longer exist after the war.

The March 22 letter states bluntly that there will be a “semi-totalitarian government here.” Those workers who think the suspension of their rights is just a war measure should read a hundred times the following sentence from the same letter: “Preparations for war are preparations for the post-war new era.”

Labor Action again poses the alternative that history lays before the working class: the “new era” of capitalism, meaning some form of fascism – or the struggle for workers’ power and SOCIALISM.

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