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Susan Green

Quit Stalling and Provide the Jobs!

(3 September 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 36, 3 September 1945, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The hearings going on before the Senate Banking and Currency Committee on the Wagner-Murray so-called full employment bill were summarized by Frederick R. Barkley in the New York Times as follows:

“As developments go so far, almost everyone on Capitol Hill agrees that full employment in the post-war period is desirable, although there are indications to the effect that it is also desirable to have a few persons looking for work which they cannot get, because of the expected salutary effect on the output of others who have got their post-war jobs.”

In other words, while most of the witnesses before the committee agreed “in principle” to the “desirability”of full employment, there are naturally those who would like an army of unemployed – not too big, of course – but big enough to knock down wages and weaken the labor movement.

In the latter group is Senator Taft, Republican from Ohio, and the Republican New York Herald Tribune, which is convinced that the bill’s “potentialities for harm are decidedly greater than those for good.” So is the Democratic New York Times opposed to the bill because it “rests essentially upon a basic distrust of private enterprise.” And glowering their die-hard opposition stand the powerful aggregations of Republican and Democratic capitalists in the National Association of Manufacturers and the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Everybody’s for It

Nevertheless, those in favor form quite a list. President Truman, who considers full employment legislation a “must, ” was upheld by cabinet members Vinson, Byrnes, Anderson and in this week’s hearings Wallace will add his voice. CIO President Phil Murray is in basic accord – and AFL President Green will undoubtedly express similar sentiments before the committee. James G. Patton, president of the National Farmers Union, is for passage. Churchmen and professors are on the list and so are representatives of the veteran organizations. There is Senator Tobey, Republican from New Hampshire, accepting what he termed the “leftward” tendency. And to climax the list of those in favor are the “liberal” merchants, manufacturers and bankers – all staunch believers in “free private enterprise.”

Shall we say that the ayes have it, that full employment is in the bag, that 60,000,000 workers can toss their hats into the air and dance a jig because their main worry is over?

The recommendation of Labor Action and the Workers Party is that the hat-tossing and jigging had better be deferred. The workers cannot rely on the capitalist system, the capitalist government or apiece of legislation projected by capitalist politicians to solve the basic evils of the private profit system, Let us have a look at this Wagner-Murray bill so optimistically called the full employment bill.

Provisions of Bill

If passed, this bill would more or less establish as a government policy that workers are entitled to jobs. To this end the President would, at the beginning of each annual session of Congress, present a“national production and employment budget” giving estimates of the total labor force available for the next fiscal year and how much private and public investment would be necessary to keep it employed. Then the President would recommend to Congress certain measures to be taken to keep up full employment. This is, roughly, all that the bill provides – except, of course, that it supports the system of private enterprise.

We will let two of the witnesses who support the bill, in principle, show up its obvious flimflam.

Phil Murray, for instance, has his doubts. At the hearing he offered certain amendments. He wants the bill to express government“responsibility” rather than only government “policy.” He wants the definite word “insuring” to be substituted for the ambiguous words “promoting” and “encouraging”with which the bill is sprinkled. And he wants the right to work extended to all persons “able to work and seeking work” instead of, as the bill provides, to “all Americans who have finished their schooling and who do not have full-time housekeeping responsibilities.” obviously, this, so-called full employment bill discriminates against young people and women. Why the word “Americans” instead of “workers?” And how naive of Murray to think a few amendments will fix everything!

Neither is James G. Patton of the Farmers Union satisfied with the bill as it stands. He wants it to go further and calls for a“guaranty” that Congress would authorize Federal expenditure on whatever projects the President declared necessary to make the national economy run at full employment. With Congress controlling the purse strings of the nation and the big business lobbies controlling Congress, certainly the fear is amply justified that the money needed for public projects will not be forthcoming. And with this set-up, what good would a “guaranty” be?

While witnesses nearer labor than the “liberal” merchants, manufacturers and banks show some doubts and misgivings, from the latter came rather unqualified support. F.R. Von Windegger, St. Louis banker, expressed the opinion: “I think we are leaning over backward to help private enterprise in this bill.” Clarence Avildsen, president of Republic Drill & Ore Company, Chicago, admitted the bankruptcy of “free enterprise” instating: “Everyone, knows that the business man cannot guarantee continuous employment for his workers.” This businessman welcomes the responsibility of government for full employment – to bolster private enterprise. He fears that otherwise the American people would vote for a change “just as they did in England.”

So the proponents of the bill are not unanimous. On closer view we see that, while the “liberal” merchants, manufacturers and bankers regard the Wagner-Murray bill as a means to thwart labor’s, rise to power to take over of its own. interests, Murray and Patton, while supporting it, still think the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect the interests of labor and by reflection the interests of the farmer.

Workers Party Program

Labor Action and the Workers Party do not rely on the capitalist system, the capitalist government or a piece of legislation projected by capitalist politicians to solve the basic contradictions of the private profit system. (See Workers Party Program, page one.) Unlike Murray who shook his finger at the Senate Committee and warned that “the people will recognize the failure of private capitalism” if the bill is not passed, Labor Action and the Workers Party recognize how the failure of capitalism which has already proved itself unable to give the people either economic security or peace. Therefore, labor must project its own demands for full employment. It must furthermore be ready to enter the political arena with a class party of its own, to fight for its own program.

The first protection against unemployment is a guaranteed annual wage for every worker. It should be a minimum of $2,500, which is indeed a mere pittance in this day and age. The principle that men, women and children have to live regardless of the profits of the capitalists, must be abolished once and for all time. The guaranteed annual wage is the way.

Let profit be limited to five percent on invested capital – instead of up to five hundred percent and more. Let individual capitalists be limited, to $25,000 annual income – ten times as much as demanded for a worker’s guaranteed annual wage should be plenty for any man.

At the hearing Murray hedged around another demand that labor must make. He said: “If the plants are not soon started up to make jobs and turn out goods, the average citizen is going to ask: ‘Well, why doesn’t the government hire engineers and managers to operate those factories the way it was done during the war?’” Is that the way for a leader of labor to talk?Why does he not now make the demand for the nationalization of big industry to make jobs and turn out goods?

Nationalize Big Business!

Labor Action and the Workers Party make the demand NOW that no government-owned plants be turned over to private capital and also that big business be nationalized to be run for use instead of for profit. Furthermore, we want this done by a workers’ government and we want the industries put under workers’ control. We don’t want the same old skin game with a new pack of cards.

Another demand made by Labor Action and the Workers Party stands out in contrast to the following.

At the hearings before the Senate Committee T.J.S. Waxter, Chairman of the National Committee on Public Social Policies, said: “The war has taught me that if we spend $300,000,000,000 making war goods to be shot away, we can at least spend a small part of that sum to experiment on how to make a peacetime economy produce as fully as the wartime economy has.” Such a statement, while sounding good, is really an insult to the working men and women who are worrying about unemployment. Why should $300,000,000,000 be shot away for war and only “a small part” be spent for peace! Labor Action and the Workers Party don’t see why as much and more should not be spent for peace.

Therefore, we demand a $20,000,000,000 public building and construction program for the next five years, to provide jobs for workers and more and better housing and public facilities for the whole people. Where will the money come from? A capital levy on accumulated wealth. Let the rich who were made richer by bloody war profits, disgorge. Let those who have appropriated the wealth of the land be made to give up for the public good.

That Murray, Green and the other labor leaders do not come out:for all these sober and attainable demands, but instead stand shaking their fingers at Senate Committees warning the latter that the workers will make these demands if the capitalist government doesn’t throw them a bone – means that such false and timid leaders are behind the times.

The rank and file of labor, in its inarch for a better life, must bypass its false and timid leaders. The program of Labor Actionand the Workers Party fit the needs of the day. It should be supported by all progressive workers.

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