Fenwick Archive  |  Trotskyist Writers  |  ETOL Home Page

James M. Fenwick

Off Limits

That Veteran’s Bonus

(23 December 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 51, 23 December 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

The following round-up reveals the current status of the veteran’s bonus throughout the country. Clip it out and keep it for those arguments in the shop.

In the recent elections three states approved the granting of bonuses:

Several other states prior to the elections had already voted bonuses:

“Nothing’s Too Good for the Boys”

When the number of states which have granted bonuses is considered, and when the size of the miserable handouts is taken into account, it is obvious that the bonuses reflect political expediency rather than the needs of the returned soldiers.

The right of the veteran to be granted a bonus cannot be successfully contested. In most cases he was subjected to extreme dangers. Often he was wounded, or he picked up some recurrent disease like malaria. The vicious military life often evoked psychoneurotic disorders. Away from home for long months and years, living under the maddening army discipline, without women, subjected to many privations and indignities, the soldier or sailor lost years of his life which can never be made up.

While he was in the service he could not save money. During this time his family usually lived in reduced circumstances. When he was discharged he often found himself a man without a skill, without a job, or without seniority on his job. Not halting had his own home prior to the war he many times found himself forced to pay exorbitant rents. The rate of unemployment among “vets is even now higher than among the papulation as a whole. Added to all this is the skyrocketing cost of living, which finds the vets at a bad disadvantage.

Yes, the vet deserves his bonus.

The Screamers on This Issue

Those who howl most indignantly, naturally, are the corporations through their paid servants, the newspapers. The capitalists, of course, whose very existence guarantees a succession of bloody wars, made billions in profits during the war and continue today to haul in unprecedented sums. They are interested solely in their profits, not in the anonymous, scared, miserable, human beings who fought their war for them.

The AVC, the most progressive of the current veterans’ organizations is also opposed to the bonus. This flows from several sources: a desire not to appear as indiscriminate freebooters of the treasury, using the veterans as a bludgeon (“Citizens First, Veterans Second!”) a concept which overlooks the special sacrifices which were made by the veteran; the middle-class composition of the AVC, where monetary problems are not so acute as among the working class; the class-collaborationist role of leaders such as Bolte, who get jumpy every time mass action is even suggested.

Our Program for the Veterans

The Workers Party bonus program is very simple: $1,000 for every year or major fraction thereof spent in the armed forces. This money is not to be filched from the people by means of a sales tax but is to be equitably raised through a heavy tax on corporate profits. Let those who benefited from the war pay for it!

Any government which can unblushingly spend $2,000,000,000 for the development of the first atomic bomb and can equally coolly contemplate the expenditure of a similar sum for the development of the long-range, remote-control rocket can easily institute such a bonus program.

We admit, of course, to the gravest defect in our bonus program – it won’t kill anybody.

Fenwick Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 17 July 2020