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Emanuel Garrett

Meat: Truman’s Price-Lifting Way? – Or Labor’s Way?

(21 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 42, 21 October 1946, pp. 1 & 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

There will be meat. But when, how much and at what prices will be decided by the greed of the packing monopolists.

So President Truman informed the people of the United States in his radio address announcing the lifting of price controls on meat.

His decision will not solve the crisis. At best it will alleviate the crisis for those who can afford to pay scandalously inflated prices. Meat in proper quantity at a price they can afford to pay will remain unavailable to the great majority of people.

These are conclusions we draw after carefully examining Truman’s statement. Beyond that, the President’s statement proves the charges we have made week in and week out in Labor Action:

Let us go over Truman’s feeble apology for lifting controls: He presented himself as the helpless champion of the people, surrounded by a gang of thieves and scoundrels. Responsibility for the crisis, said Truman, rests “on the reckless group of selfish men” determined to make political gain out of the situation.

And that much of what he said is true, with this addition: “the reckless group of selfish men” embrace the totality of capitalist rulers, every one of whom thinks “in terms of millions of dollars instead of millions of people.”

Faced with the wide clamor for action on the meat crisis and with the November elections only weeks away, Truman tried to make his decision palatable by palming responsibility off on the obstructionism of his political opponents. To be sure, the Republicans were making hay of his predicament.

But, confronted with the necessity of doing something, anything, to put some meat on the table before election time, bis solution proved to be exactly the same as that advocated by Dewey and Taft.

Was it not his man Anderson who gave the meat industry an unwarranted boost in prices some months ago? Has not OPA, the old one and the new “zombie” OPA, proved to be anything but a price control body? Have not prices risen steadily? Has not labor’s standard of living been depressed? And all this under Truman! Did not Truman propose violent action against the railroad strikers who demanded wage raises to meet the intolerable price situation created by Truman and the “selfish men who put millions of dollars “before millions of people” – the upholders of capitalist monopolist “free enterprise”?

Proposals “Weighed And Considered”

The measure of Truman and his colleagues and his capitalist political opponents can be taken from his address. He had, said the President, considered various proposals. These were “carefully weighed and considered” and rejected.

Obviously Truman was not prepared to do that. It would be against the interests of private property, of “free enterprise,” of monopoly. And, before everything else, Truman is an upholder of the system of private property as is the entire governmental system.

Combined with seizing the packing plants and the warehouses and putting them under the control of the workers, this could have put meat on the tables of the great mass of people. This is the kind of drastic action demanded by the situation. It is equally the kind of drastic remedy that Truman will never take, but that labor, with its power and its interest in the welfare of ALL the people, can take.

The People Will Learn!

And note carefully what follows in the Truman address: “The American people will know where the responsibility rests if profiteering on meat raises the price so high that the average American cannot buy it.” We think they will know, too. Truman would like them to conclude from this knowledge that in November they ought to vote for the Democrats. We of the Workers Party and LABOR ACTION shall do our best to help the people reach the conclusion that the whole thievish, selfish set-up needs to be replaced with a government that serves the interests of the people, a Workers’ Government.

It is a dead certainty that prices will rise and rise, unless labor intervenes. What little there was of price control is now definitely dead, except for rent.

”The lifting of controls on meat, however, cannot be treated as an isolated transaction.” So Truman. And he is right. Already “the Price Administrator and the Secretary of Agriculture have been lifting controls on thousands of items on their own initiative.” We know that. And in Truman’s address we heard no reference to these gentlemen as Congressional obstructionists, “selfish few” and the rest of the phrases designed to shift blame elsewhere. (We are reminded of Roosevelt’s denunciation of the “economic royalists” while he led a war for these same economic royalists.)

Truman’s Way

“The action which will be taken tomorrow in freeing meat from control means that their program of lifting controls will have to be accelerated under existing standards.” And by the same token, labor will have TO ACT to stop the steal.

Truman made some passing references to wage increases. We know what that will be like in Truman’s formula. An inadequate, piddling increase that will be wiped away quickly by rising prices, possibly further depress labor’s living standard and certainly not raise it.

Such is Truman’s way. Rising prices. Frequent shortages.

Those who have permitted themselves to be beguiled by the propaganda that lifting controls will at least provide some meat where there is none, need only consider the milk situation in any one of a number of cities. In New York City, for example, in addition to a price rise that, according to published reports, has already deprived any number of poor children of a proper amount of milk, there is an actual shortage. In Seattle, housewives this week were demonstrating against the impossible rise in the price of milk under decontrol!

Truman’s way is not our way. It cannot be, for his way is the capitalist way – the way of the socially bankrupt masters of industry, whose selfish profit interests conflict with the interests of the people.

Our way is labor’s way. We say labor has to take the situation into its own hands.

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