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V. Grey

Johnny’s Initiative and How It Paid

(3 August 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 31, 3 August 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

They call capitalism the system of private enterprise and rugged individualism. Initiative is supposed to be rewarded. Enterprising. young men are supposed to shoot right up to the top.

Maybe so. But that’s not the way it works in our shop. The fellows all know it too. That’s why you don’t often see them breaking out in a rash of “initiative.”

We didn’t always know it, of course. I remember the time a few of the welders were on a piece-work job that by some miracle or other the time-study man had put a fairly good price on. They were making pretty good money. But of course it didn’t last more than a few days. (The good money jobs never do.) And they were anxious to get every hour in they could.

The boss came around one afternoon and said, “Any of you fellows know how to braze cast iron?” Nobody said anything except Johnny Dylek who hadn’t been working so long at the time and was proud of being an all-around man.

“Sure, I can braze anything,” says Johnny.

Louis the stump jumper tapped his forehead, meaning he thought Johnny was crazy.

Well, Johnny worked an hour and a half on the brazing job. At the end of the day his time card said “6½ hours Arc Weld at $1.25; 1½ hours Acetylene Weld at 90 cents.”

Johnny never made the mistake of knowing too much again.

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