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Hoover & Unemployment

Republican Party Platform Ignores Vital Problem of Jobless

(July 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 29 (Whole No. 125), 16 July 1932, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

More than 13,000,000 men pound the pavements of plentiful America, out of work, with no hope of finding employment. Both the conservative Department of Labor and William Green, president of the A.F.L. corroborate these high figures of unemployment. All data published to date point to a daily increase of the jobless army

It is no longer a matter of being jobless for a few weeks. These weeks have turned into months, and the months are rapidly becoming years. The prospects for work are as slight as the greatly reduced wages. The crowds at the factory gates are dwindling into mere handfuls. Even the brazen lies of Henry Ford, of putting thousands back on the job attract far less attention from the unemployed than they did some months ago. The most gullible begin to eye these deceptive statements with suspicion. One finds the curious anomaly in the want ad sections of the newspapers. It is no more the bosses who ask for “help”. Today the workers spend their last dollars in advertisements, begging, pleading, imploring some kindly capitalist to give them employment.

Jobless in Extreme Need

Two years ago unemployment meant the loss of a few luxuries. One could manage to exist without a radio and an automobile. But as the crisis continued, the lack of a job forced the worker to make payments on his home, and tens of thousands have gone under the auctioneer’s hammer. Whatever savings the worker possessed have either been used up or have passed into the bankers’ hands in the innumerable bank crashes. For some time, thousands of jobless have been kept afloat by assistance from more fortunate friends and relatives. But this situation is coming to an end, if it is not already concluded. The proletarian friends and relatives have been cast into the workless army. Or, if still working, their wages have been cut so low, that not only is assistance impossible, but they themselves are in dire need of relief of some sort. The picture is changing. The unemployed are ceasing to look for for jobs – they are seeking relief, food and shelter.

The coming winter shows no signs of improvement. More people will be out of work. Death from starvation will threaten every proletarian family. But before the commencement of the winter season, an election campaign will be concluded. Four parties, Republican, Democrat, Socialist and Communist have drawn up platforms and nominated presidential candidates who stand on these platforms. With more than one-fourth of the American working class out of work, there can be no doubt as to the main issue of the campaign. It is unemployment. The acid test for the parties is their stand on this burning question. What have they to offer the jobless in their platforms? What have their actions been in obtaining relief for the unemployed? This article will deal with the record and the stand of the Republican party on this problem.

What have the Republicans done for the jobless? One word can sum up their deeds – nothing. They were elected on the promise of eternal prosperity. One year passed and their prosperity bubble burst.

For almost a year following the stock crash, with industry shutting down and lay-offs rising to the millions, their main occupation was pulling the wool over the eyes of the people. There was no crisis, Hoover said. It was only a temporary fluctuation. Then – when it became impossible to deny what was so obvious, Hoover had another gag. It would all be over in 60 or 90 days. Or if these predictions proved false – then prosperity was around the corner. Like Diogenes who looked in vain for an honest man, the American workers are searching for this corner.

Hoover’s Grand Scheme

But even if thousands of workers at the start, might have been inclined to believe in the shams of the “great engineer”, he himself placed no stock in them. He embarked on a “grandiose program” The papers were full of it for days. $500,000,000 was invested in a huge “public works” scheme. Millions of men were to be returned to work. Result – a huge fizzle. And the jobless army kept growing. Wall-Street-Hoover admits today in vetoing the Wagner-Garner “relief bill” that – $300,000,000 will only give jobs to a mere one hundred thousand men.

The next publicity scheme (the only thing the unemployed got out of the Republican administration) was the “stagger system”. The Republican platform says that this scheme of “part time employment – limited unemployment”. It yielded nothing of the kind. Every succeeding month showed an increase in the number of men thrown out of work. What it really did was to cut the standard of wages in half. And you may be sure, the bosses are thankful.

To the Hunger March on Washington that demanded unemployment insurance, Hoover responded with an emphatic No. And to give force to his statement the Capitol was surrounded by the militia armed with all the weapons of modern warfare.

But this wasn’t enough. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation was organized. The purpose of this institution was to hand out a subsidy of over a billion dollars to the banks and the railroads. They were supposed to start the wheels of industry turning with this money. So Hoover said. The bankers and railroad magnates, however, took the money and divided it among themselves, under the high sounding title of “overdue liabilities”.

Relief “Un-American”

The Republicans say in their platform that federal relief is un-American; only local relief is permitted. Hardly a month had passed since the platform was adopted and a bill is passed giving federal relief to states in need, to the tune of three hundred million dollars. And this is to be divided among the unemployed and their families who total over forty million people. Even if all the red tape were eliminated it would amount to scarcely ten dollars per person. And this for a whole year!

In a platform of more than twenty thousand words hardly a hundred are devoted to unemployment. To the demand for social insurance, the Republicans give lectures on “rugged American individualism”. To the cry for relief they answer with platitudes about “courage, fortitude and patience”. Starve – but starve quietly! They boast to their masters that there have been “few strikes and social disturbances” under their regime. They will eat these words yet!

Is any more proof necessary? The Republican party remains the most conscious and willing agents of the exploiters of the working class.

We must organize to destroy both the Republicans and the capitalist system which they represent. We must vote Communist as a sign that we understand the first task in our historic mission.

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Last updated: 21.12.2013