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Albert Gates

Congress Sets Stage for Higher Profits

Prices Are Rising!

Byrnes, Brown and Leaders in Congress
Join Hands to Prevent Price Roll-Backs

(July 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 29, 19 July 1943, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Congress took a recess without overriding the presidential veto on the matter of subsidies to enable a roll-back of prices. This was hailed as a great victory for Roosevelt over those who sought to bar price control and price ceilings.

As a matter of fact, the issue involved only partial and limited subsidies, and these were to be employed by Director of War Mobilization Byrnes and Price Administrator Brown with the knowledge that the Senate twice voted to prohibit roll-backs.

According to PM, the congressional agreement not to override the veto of the President came after Byrnes, Brown and the new Food Administrator, Marvin Jones, promised that they would not attempt to roll back prices and use the subsidies, but only try to hold food prices at their current levels!

This means that food prices, which have risen over forty per cent in the last year, will either remain at their present high level, already beyond the wages of the working men and women of this country, or will rise to even greater heights.

Like all the previous plans of the Administration, this new price stabilization program is a fraud. There will be no stabilization of prices, even at their present high levels!

Under this new so-called stabilization program, an attempt will be made to hold prices on some major food items, but on a number of lesser items prices will be permitted to climb.

In contrast to the refusal of Congress to permit subsidies for a rollback of prices on consumer goods which affect the overwhelming majority of the population, there is the secret agreement between Jesse Jones, Rubber Director William Jeffers and the same Prentiss Brown to grant the payment of a huge “roll-back subsidy” on synthetic rubber.

The roll-back on synthetic rubber is more than fifty per cent of current sale prices. This will give enormous profits to the big corporations involved in synthetic rubber production.

It is interesting to note in connection with the matter of price rollbacks on foods and other items necessary to the mass of people that the organized labor movement was never consulted on any of the actions taken by the Director of War Mobilization. These Roosevelt-appointed administrators are not at all concerned with the labor movement and the mass of working men and women.

Despite the threat of the AFL and the CIO that, unless some drastic steps are taken to roll back prices, they would open campaigns for general wage increases, Roosevelt’s administrators went on their merry way, showing that they are not at all interested in the feelings and desires of the working class, even as hesitatingly and badly expressed by their union leaders.

Matters are altogether different so far as big business, that is to say, the war profiteers, are concerned. Roosevelt’s pre-war declarations that there would be no new – or old – war millionaires, were just words. The fact is that they are becoming enriched as a result of war production.

The Economic Outlook of the CIO points out in its latest report that despite the fact that taxes in the years 1940, ’41 and ’42 rose ten times, profits increased by seventy per cent, or over $2,800,000,000. Profits in the year 1943 will exceed even those of the previous three years! The Outlook writes:

“Profits, in short, continue to climb. For all our determination, the war has become what we were determined it should not – a tremendous windfall for a few ... While profits have soared and continue to soar, workers, whose wages are still stabilized at a level 15 per cent above January 1941, are paying at least 25 per cent more to live than they did when the United States entered the war.”

Thus the whole situation is summed up. Enrichment for a few – destruction of the living standards of the vast majority of the people.

Beyond this general picture of the situation there is the fact that profits are only one side of the picture of the enrichment of America’s capitalist class.

Direct profits are not the only source of this enrichment. There is the enormous increase in salaries and bonuses of company officials. These salaries, already over-large, have been doubled, trebled and quadrupled.

Big business puts away its contingent funds, reserves and adds in miscellaneous expenses – all of which are profits in other forms.

On top of all this, these companies have added hundreds of millions of dollars in property values. Thus, rubber companies have increased their property from $700,000,000 to almost a billion dollars. This is only one example; there are hundreds more.

Food or profits? The answer is clear by the decisions made in Washington, in the Administration and in Congress. They have chosen profits against food!

Profits climb! Prices climb! Taxes climb! The cost of living climbs! But wages have actually been reduced – REAL wages are lower! The standard of living has been lowered. The general well-being of the mass of people is being destroyed. The capitalist greed for profits and wealth is unabated!


P.S.: Washington, July 14 – Price Administrator Brown left Washington today for a month’s vacation!

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