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Susan Green

The Little Man Keeps Getting Littler

(19 January 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 3, 19 January 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Even with all the dark warnings handed out by President Roosevelt and government spokesmen, the average worker does not have a concise idea of how terribly hard this war is going to hit him.

But here comes Colston E. Warne, professor of economics of Elmhurst College and president of the Consumers Union, who translates the dark Warnings into brass tacks:

Taxes for 1942,” declares Professor Warne, “will reduce Mr. Average American’s $100 to $60.”

In other words, this year – which is only the beginning of what is to come – taxes alone will take 40 per cent right off the worker’s wages.

But this is not the whole disastrous story.

“Rising prices,” further elaborates Professor Warne, “will reduce the purchasing power of this to $42, compared to 1939.”

Actually, then, the worker will divide his wage – which he will certainly earn by the sweat of his brow – 42 per cent for himself and 58 per cent for the war.

A $40 a week wage will buy for the worker only $16.80 of the necessities of life. A $30 a week wage will be reduced to $12.60 in purchasing power.

A $20 a week wage will shrink to $8.40 over the counter of the butcher, baker and candlestick maker.


Professor Warne, being an expert on consumers’ worries, goes right to rock bottom.

Many families, he states, will not be able to buy that basic food – MILK.

People who now can afford one precious egg for breakfast, will have to do without it.

Clothes, according to the professor, will be worn not only until [line missing in printed text] honored uniform of poverty, will be worn by the workers who produce all the wealth in the wealthiest nation on earth.

Why should the little man pay this harrowing price for the war – while the big man gets bigger and bigger on war profits!

Taxes on the workers cut deep into their necessities of life – food, clothing, shelter. The rising cost of living, on top of this throws the working class back into actual poverty.

But even if every last cent of war profits should be taken for war taxes – as it should be – THE BOSSES WILL STILL BE ABLE TO ENJOY EVERY LUXURY OF LIVING TO WHICH THEY ARE ACCUSTOMED.

The question is: Does democracy mean that the rights of private property get more consideration than the rights of human beings!

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Last updated: 8 September 2014