Mary E. Marcy

Hard Times and
How to Stop Them

(March 1913)

The International Socialist Review, Vol. 13 No. 9, March 1913, pp. 654–655.
Transcribed by Matthew Siegfried.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

I NEVER met a working man or woman who did not know that something is wrong with things as they are today. No matter how hard we may work and save, you and I know that 99 out of every hundred of us are always “up against it.”

You slave along for a year and manage, perhaps, to save up a few dollars and some day you find a notice nailed up on the factory door telling you that the boss has closed down indefinitely.

If you think it over, while you are living along on your savings, and trying to get another job, you will realize that the boss has not shut down because folks have more food and clothing, or more homes than they need. He shut down because he could not make any PROFITS.

The sole end and aim of Business is PROFITS. No matter how much the bosses may talk, in public, for newspaper advertising, you know that they consider everything connected with the shop, the business, the mine or the mill from the standpoint of whether it will bring MORE PROFITS to them.

They install automatic machinery because it will enable them to discharge men or women and thus make more PROFITS.

They put cotton seeds in their canned preserves because they are cheaper than real strawberries. They adulterate bread and food. They use poisonous preservatives in meat; they dye beef red to make it appear fresh; they sell condemned hams, and monopolize the egg supply; they skim the milk or adulterate it – all for the sake of MORE DIVIDENDS.

If you work in a shipping room, or a department store and you or your associates secretly report the fact that the elevators are notably unsafe, you learn that the Building Inspector appears, interviews the boss, in private, and declares they are all they should be. Later a workman, is injured in one of those elevators. He is whisked away secretly to a. hospital. His family is not permitted to see him until he has signed a statement exonerating the company.

You know the newspaper reporters know about this accident and the criminal negligence of the boss. But they do not print a word about it.

Why does the boss refuse to install safe elevators? Why did the Inspector lie? Why was the newspaper silent? The answer is profits. It costs money to buy good elevators with safety devices. The boss finds it cheaper to “see” the Inspector. The newspaper gets good paying advertising from the company. It will not and CAN not tell the truth and compete with the other newspapers that go to all lengths for PROFITS.

You will find almost everything in the world today, almost every social institution directly related, in one way or another, to PROFITS, if you stop to think about it.

You go on strike with the other boys in the mill – for shorter hours and higher wages. The boss opposes you, because higher wages and shorter working hours for YOU will mean lower PROFITS for HIM.

You see the police force used to protect the scabs and the property of the boss. They beat you up. The militia comes and helps to break your strike. You see the police and the army called to serve the interests of the Boss in order to prevent you from gaining higher wages and cutting down his PROFITS.

You see the preachers teaching contentment and thrift and economy and honesty, because the rich men pay their salaries and the master class want you to be honest and saving, contented and obedient. These things mean more PROFITS for him.

The newspapers never print the truth about a strike. They always side with the employers because the employers ADVERTISE and advertising means PROFITS.

When you are sick doctors pretend they know how to cure you whether they do or not. If you have enough money, they are more than likely to operate or to keep you sick while they take it away. Every time you have the misfortune to be sick or injured, the doctors talk about good times, and begin to buy new furniture for the house. Even rich men ought to be afraid of the doctors because their Good Times are other peoples’ time of trouble. The longer they keep us in bed, the larger is their bill.

Congressmen, and senators, judges and ambassadors always line up behind the Captains of Industry instead of behind workingmen and women. It PAYS better. You never heard of any law that actually benefitted the working class (unless it benefitted the bosses still more). About the time a law gets past the legislature, prohibiting young boys from working in the coal mines, we generally find the mine owners have installed new machinery that does not need boys.

You can scarcely turn around without hitting somebody in the pocket-book. If you read late at night the landlady will be rapping on the door and lamenting the gas. The waiter at the restaurant is instructed to give you a cube of butterine so small you can scarcely discover it with the naked eye.

The grocer puts postum or beans in the coffee. The cashier short-changes you. The fruit vendor insinuates bad apples in the bag, if you so much as turn your head. You can’t get anything without encroaching upon somebody’s profits.

Profits are the cause of Poverty. And Socialism proposes to abolish Poverty. This is why every workingman and woman ought to be a Socialist.

Because the bosses own the factory, the mine, mill and shop, they are able to buy your working strength for less than the value of the things you produce or make. This leaves a profit for the bosses. Socialism intends to make the factories, farms, mines, mills and shops the collective property of those who work in them; to do away with bosses and to abolish the PROFIT system.

Think this over. Read this article again. If you are a factory owner you will oppose Socialism. If you are an intelligent worker, you will join the Socialist movement. It is the only movement in the world composed of workers who mean to abolish Poverty and the Profit System. It will give to every worker the full value of his product.

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Last updated on 31 May 2022