From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 16, 21 April 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Mr. Boss was ambling along one day when Frankie, his messenger boy, dashed by yelling: “Stop thief! Murder! Robbery! Sabotage!”
“What’s the matter, Frankie?” asked Mr. Boss. “Did somebody steal your fireside?”
“It’s worse than that,” said Frankie. “My friend John Bull is in trouble. You know us – Frankie and Johnny – we’re like that.” And he scratched his palm.
“Tsk, tsk,” said Mr. Boss, “I know Johnny Bull has hardening of the arteries, but what’s the matter now?”
“Arteries my eye,” said Frankie. “The big bad wolf is trying to burn his house down and steal his chickens.”
“That’s terrible,” said Mr. Boss. “It’s true, John Bull is a rat, but he’s got to be MY rat. I’ll call my worker, roll up his sleeves and get to work right away.”
So Mr. Boss put a case of Knudsen’s guaranteed wolfbane on a wagon, hired a cheering squad and called Mr. Worker.
“Brother Worker,” he said, “the big bad wolf is raping John Bull’s chickens. We’ve got to sacrifice everything to help him. So you and I are going into partnership together. You can start work now.”
“Why?” inquired Mr. Worker.
“Listen, Baby Snooks,” said Mr. Boss, “if we let him get away with it, he’ll be after MY chickens next.”
“No, he won’t,” said Mr. Worker, “I’ll get them first.”
“Come on now, Snookie,” cooed Mr. Boss, “you know YOUR chickens are in danger, too.”
“I haven’t got any chickens,” said Mr. Worker.
“That’s just the point,” said Mr. Boss. “It’s the chickens you haven’t got that are in danger. As soon as we get through with this job you’ll see so many chickens around you’ll be laying an egg yourself.”
“There’s something screwy about that line, but I don’t know what,” said Mr. Worker. “I think I go home.”
“OK,” said Mr. Boss, turning to the cheer leader. “Turn it on, boys.”
The cheering squad yelled: “Jefferson, Thomas – Washington, George, Jackson, Lincoln, Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Grant and General Lee, Red, White and Blue – DEMOCRACY!”
“I’m convinced,” said Mr. Worker. “Let’s go.” “Fine,” chortled Mr. Boss. “All you have to do is get into those shafts and pull the wagon, partner. I’ll be working up on the driver’s seat.”
So off they went: and Mr. Boss amid great rejoicing donated the case of wolfbane to John Bull, in exchange for all of Johnny’s loose change and a mortgage on his barnyard.
When they got back, Mr. Worker said: “OK, partner, I’ll take my cut now.”
“Cut? Cut?” said Mr. Boss. “Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, I’ve already got the knife out for you ...”
And suiting action to words, he made a deep slash in Mr. Worker’s pocket.
“You have just created a rift,” said Mr. Worker. “I’m going on strike.”
“You can’t do that,” said Mr. Boss with another chortle. “Ask the cop.”
Along came Frankie swinging a club in one hand and a fireside gas bomb in the other.
“I’m the cop,” said Frankie. “You can’t go on strike for two. reasons: First, because Jefferson, Jackson, Washington and Lincoln never went on strike. Second, because I’ll bash you head in if you do.”
“I’m a law-abiding citizen,” said Mr. Worker. “All I want is liberty, justice, and a half portion of equality.”
“Very well,” said Frankie, “we’ll arbitrate this.”
He put aside his club and put on a set of whiskers.
“I’m the arbitration board,” he said. “What seems to be the trouble?”
“Well,” said Mr. Worker, “Mr. Boss and I went into partnership to help John Bull by sacrificing everything. But first he makes me do all he work, and then he keeps all the profits. It’s not fair.”
“Hm,” said, Frankie. “Here’s my ruling: Whereas, albeit and ipso facto: You are defending the chickens you MIGHT get if John Bull wins, so Mr. Boss is sacrificing the profit he MIGHT get if he squeezed you a little harder. Might makes right. QED. Secondly: You make the product and he makes the profit. That’s a fair division of labor. In addition you sound to me like a dirty red. Now get into those wagon shafts or I’ll get my club.”
“Hell,” said Mr. Worker to himself, “there must be another club around somewhere.”
Last updated on 14.12.2012