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Susan Green

Both Boss Parties Share
Blame for Price Debacle

(8 July 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 27, 8 July 1946, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On the one hand President Truman vetoed the booby-trap OPA bill on the ground that it would mean sure inflation, that it meant yielding to the greedy monopolists. On the other hand he went on the air and appealed to these very same greedy, to “every business man, every producer and every landlord to adhere to existing regulations, even though for a short period they may not have the effect of law.”

This doesn’t make sense. It is true that President Truman also stated that the “will of the people is still the supreme law of the land,” and urged: “Your determination to retain price controls and so prevent inflation must be made known to the Congress.”

This also makes no sense because exactly what labor, veterans, housewives, white collar workers have been doing is to make known to Congress their “determination to retain price controls.” Only it turns out that these are not the people whose will is the supreme law of this capitalist land.

Mr. Truman boasted that in vetoing the bill because it is “a sure formula for inflation,” he was calling a spade a spade. Certainly the profiteers’ bill passed by Congress was “a sure formula for inflation.” However, so is the absence of all price control the open floodgate to inflation, and so was OPA yielding to the pressure of the monopolists a road to inflation, though not so steep. Mr. Truman’s spade-calling is with one eye shut. We’d like to do some spade-calling of our own.

Left in the Lurch

The capitalist government of America has left the masses completely in the lurch with no protection against inflation. We can only speculate on how high prices of food, clothing and other necessities will go. There is no predicting what landlords will do. The stark fact is that all these matters have been relinquished to the wile and will of the very business and real estate monopolists whose profit greed has created this crisis.

Now what shall the working masses do? Once more write postal cards to fill Congressional waste paper baskets, as Mr. Truman suggests? Or is it time to by-pass the capitalist politicians? Yes, it is more than time.

There are three major actions the situation calls for, actions to be initiated and to be carried out by labor, veterans, housewives, white collar workers and all the “little” people.

First, the creation of people’s organs of price control. There is no way out of this responsibility. The capitalist government has failed. Factory and industry committees of workers are indispensable to determine the quantity of production and prices for distribution. They must be organized at once.

Second, fundamental political action has to be taken by labor, veterans, housewives, white collar workers and all of us little people – action that will permanently repudiate the capitalist system and the capitalist government, and dedicate the people to a new goal for society. The responsibility to form an independent Labor Party against the capitalist parties can be shirked only at the risk of the triumph of the worst kind of reaction.

Third, a buyers’ and tenants’ strike, widespread and all-inclusive, limited only by the absolute necessities to keep going. Such a mass demonstration is a must, against the monopolists who have produced and deepened the woes of the whole consuming population.

And who can lead the masses to take these necessary steps? Who else but labor?

Truman’s Veto

Let not Mr. Truman’s veto of the booby-trap bill fool labor into extending confidence in him and the Democratic Party. Why didn’t he come out sooner with a warning that he would veto the bill? Wasn’t it because he was playing with the idea of signing the “sure formula for inflation”?

He was measuring whether he would gain more political capital by going along with the National Association of Manufacturers and their brethren or by listening to Economic Stabilizer Chester Bowles’ political philosophy of serving the capitalists by reducing the dangers to them of run-away inflation – and at the same time appeasing labor!

Certainly one didn’t have to be too bright, listening to Truman’s radio speech, to snicker at his attempts to call the Republican kettle blacker than the Democratic pot. Everything he said about the amendments of Senator Taft and Representatives Wherry and Crawford, all Republicans, was deserved. These men, who sought to legalize, in peacetime super-wartime profiteering, should get the support only of class they serve. But what about the Democratic Party? Let’s turn that pot bottomside up.

Did not Senator Barkley, Democratic majority leader, urge passage of this same bill as “the best bill under the circumstances”? He did. And who hasn’t heard of the anti-price-control efforts of Senator Elmer Thomas, Democrat of Oklahoma? Nor can Truman exactly hide under a barrel the blustering, filibustering W. Lee O’Daniel, Democrat from Texas. The Republican kettle and the Democratic pot are both of the same color.

Both capitalist parties have amply earned the contempt of the people. Organized labor is in the position, with its forces and know-how in action, to take the lead in the creation of worker-consumer price control committees, in the launching of an. independent Labor Party to represent the economic and political interests of all the workers of this nation.

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