Hal Draper

Come to Think of It

Get Ahead with a Letterhead

(5 August 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 31, 5 August 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

My friend Paperhead Pete, who is usually good for an argument, has an altogether different slant on the scandal over Congressman May and the Garsson profiteers.

Take Harry Garsson. This is what Pete says. He starts with nothing but a corporation title and winds up with 78 million dollars’ profit from fat war contracts. So what? So it proves you don’t even need a shoestring in this land of opportunity. Get Ahead with a Letterhead.

Haven’t we enterprising Americans always admired the poor boy who starts with nothing but his pluck, borrows a wad from the kind-hearted old banker, gets to meet the right people by saving all their daughters from runaway horses and then is put on the road to fame and fortune?

What’s come over us?? Paperhead Pete; wants to know. This Garsson chap does a Horatio Alger, and instead of applauding his pluck we call it a lot of gall. He gets the wad from the kind old man. And just because said kind old man is Uncle Sam and the wad is advance payment by the government on an upholstered contract for shells to a company that hardly exists, do we admire Garsson as a captain of industry with IMAGINATION? No, he’s cussed as a profiteer!

How did old man Rockefeller get his start? How did Astor and Morgan and Mellon and the other great fortunes get up in the world? Maybe you think it was by being goody-goody and thrifty and industrious and giving some sucker an even break.

No, sir, the American System is at stake in this affair. Do YOU want to be deprived of your INALIENABLE RIGHT to run a letterhead into a few million dollars?

What some mush-heads don’t understand, says Pete, is that this here great American System of ours is the profit system, and just see what it’s done for us. A locomotive burns coal, and a ship burns oil and a horse burns hay, and this great profit system of ours runs on profit. It isn’t geared to operate on sentiment or morals, and you couldn’t run Ford’s belt line according to the Sermon on the Mount, could you now?

What’s efficiency anyhow? It means getting something done the easiest way you can. And what’s an efficient profit system? Making profit the easiest way you can. That’s what this great American efficiency does for you. By gosh, Garsson was in line with all the traditions of American business and Congress ought to strike a medal for him.

Now don’t hand me the guff – says Pete before I can get a word in edgewise – about this bird making blood-money while the boys were dying in the foxholes. Sure, politicians made speeches about the foxholes while they were raking in the dough-re-me. When you elect a guy to be congress man, you expect him to act like a congressman, don’t you? ?

Look, suppose you manufactured soap. You wouldn’t put out a billboard, would you, that said: “Use Atomic Soap – it’s just about as good as sixteen other brands,” or “Atomic Soap Floats Because It’s 50 Per Cent Water Already.” WOULD YOU? Heck no, that’s not business, there’s no percentage in it. You’ve got to be a good liar. That’s what made our great advertising industry.

So when fellows went out on strike, they put the needle on the record about the boys in the foxholes and the war effort and all out for patriotism. Why get indignant about that? Anyone who believed that hooey must have been so dumb that if they didn’t get it in the neck one way they’d get it another way anyhow.

And besides, what were the boys in the foxholes dying for if not for our Great American System? They were fighting for your right and my right and Garsson’s right to make a million by rooking the suckers. Under this wonderful profit system, we all get ahead by doing the other fellow out of something. The boys over there ought to be damn glad that Garsson did them out of 78 million dollars because that assures their opportunity to come back here and do somebody else out of a couple of bucks. Opportunity – that’s America all over. Ain’t it wonderful?

Come to think of it, says Pete, have you got a two-spot till payday?

Last updated on 26 May 2019