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Susan Green

Wallace and Jobs for All

(17 December 1945

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 51, 17 December 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

>Mr. Wallace’s plan for “Sixty Million Jobs” as presented in his book of that title, has been embodied in the Full Employment Bill, now almost choked to death in the labyrinth of Congressional red tape. In view of the flagrant unconcern with which the problem of unemployment has .been approached by the guardians of private enterprise, Mr. Wallace’s optimism that capitalism can provide full employment appears well-nigh ridiculous.

It isn’t that Mr. Wallace doesn’t understand that there are those who “wrap themselves in the flag of patriotism and do the dirty work of scoundrels.” He says: “... the goal if sixty million jobs is attainable provided that the pressure groups cooperate for the common good. This may be a big ‘if.’ True enough, it is. But it is also a realistic and not a wishful ‘if.’” So Mr. Wallace keeps smiling and believes that the FACTS will cause the capitalists to change their ingrained greed and lust for self-aggrandizement.

Some of the facts are, indeed, colossal. For instance, Mr. Wallace tells us that from 1930 to 1941 there was a loss of 88,000,000 man-years of production – due to unemployment. That amount of labor power could have been transformed into $350,000,000,000 of wealth. To equate this sum to the things of life could mean 70,000,000 homes at a cost of $5,000 each, which is about three times what is necessary to clear all the slums of the country. Or that waste can be equated to twice the value of all the capital stock of all the private corporations in the United States. Or it can be expressed in terms of three hundred and fifty river valley developments like the magnificent TVA.

Citing the Great Needs

Apparently such facts are not the ones that determine the conduct of the capitalists and their politicians. The facts that influence this gentry are contained in fat corporation ledgers and in the figures of dividend checks.

Similarly, Mr. Wallace’s array of unfulfilled needs that can form “the backlog to give us the driving power for peace” is very impressive, and without any doubt the needs are there – waiting to be fulfilled. His list of “unfilled orders” includes houses, hospitals, schools, rural electrification, soil conservation, river-valley developments, improved and increased transportation facilities, industrialization of the South and other backward regions where people are under-employed and don’t produce enough for consumption. And Wallace also lists the undeveloped human and national resources in other lands, that have to be built up.

But again all these bursting human needs Mr. Wallace confines within the fences of private enterprise and, according to him, they must wait for the private capitalists to be won over “to the demands of peace and general welfare.”

Now Mr. Wallace tells us in his book that even with FULL employment at WARTIME wages eight million city families – not counting their country cousins – would still be getting less than $1,000 a year and would be unable to “buy enough meat, eggs, dairy products to raise healthy children” or keep themselves in good health. Yet private capital, in which Mr. Wallace places so much hope, is now fighting like a wild tigress for its cubs, against the demands of labor to keep wages at these inadequate wartime totals. Where, pray, is the basis for Mr. Wallace’s hope that private enterprise will submit to planning for full employment?

In fact, Mr. Wallace reveals himself as a bundle of contradictions. On the one hand, he stands for an economy of abundance, as, of course, is implicit in any program for full employment. On the other hand, however, he is the advocate of small business and small farms. While it is true that small enterprises contribute to total production, the basic truth is that both industry and agriculture have gone beyond the horse-and-buggy days, that big business dominates both, and that plenty for all the people can be produced only on the basis of large-scale industry.

The question, of course, is what to do with the giant industrial establishments which are here to stay and which are absolutely indispensable to an economy of abundance. Mr. Wallace says he is opposed to monopolies by great corporations and cartels. It is always fashionable to be against monopolies. But the proof of the pudding is the means proposed to abolish them. Mr. Wallace approaches the question with the outlook of the small business man that he is. He wants the big business government to help the small business man against the great corporations and cartels. Might as well try to make Niagara fall the other way.

Like all pro-capitalist liberals, Mr. Wallace makes sense till it comes to the point of HOW. He is a great champion of the “common good,” but only in so far as it can be fitted into the system of private profit. He sees the social evil in the powerful economic and financial monopolies, but does not take the logical step, namely, that these industrial giants needed for an economy of abundance, must become the common property of all the . people. Instead, he yearns for the good old horse-and-buggy days of the small company and the small farm – and small production!

No Planning?

Similarly he hedges around the need for social planning. Indeed, his program, embodied in the unfortunate Full Employment Bill, involves some kind of planning. It would provide for a budget of annual employment to see how many jobs private business is expected to provide, how many municipal, state and federal government can be expected to furnish, and how many more would be needed for sixty million jobs. Then the government would stimulate business into certain further production by offering subsidies and other inducements; and then the President would suggest to Congress additional government expenditures to make up the difference still needed to give jobs to sixty million workers.

This Wallace calls “democratic planning,” but please, please don’t call it “Economic Planning” with capital letters, because that means the end of private enterprise.

Unfortunately, Wallace is still a favorite with organized labor. In 1944 many CIO union conventions acclaimed him as their 1948 choice for president. By throwing in their lot with a pro-capitalist liberal, with a selfcontradictory approach to the vital problems of the day, labor retards the solution of these problems.

A Way Out

There are jobs for all – but not within the profit-grabbing restrictions of private enterprise. There can be plenty for all – but only by socializing the means of production and placing production under control of workers’ committees. There is a new and full life to be built – but not by bills gathering dust in the desks of capitalist politicians nor by fattening up the capitalists with more government subsidies.

The way to a new and fuller life is via a Workers’ Government that will end private profit and lead the nation to Socialist endeavor. To break with the Wallaces and to take the road to independent political action on working class lines, that is the task at hand for labor.

Wallace’s book simply proves how true this is.

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