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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall Street Wire

(21 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 42, 21 October 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

First, let’s climb the price spiral for the week ending October 11: Pots and pans and enamelware sold by mail order, up 5 per cent; clothing and other items of cotton, up 1–2 per cent; poultry prices, not under control, up 50 per cent in the past month; increases in the delivered prices of iron and steel products; Douglas fir doors, ceiling raised 4.5 per cent; pine millwork, up 3.9 per cent; cafe price ceilings on meat meals, up 15 per cent; California rice, up 23–85 cents a 100 pounds; rubber, up 4.21–14.12 per cent; household soaps and cleaners, prices raised; prices of meals on dining-cars decontrolled; cigarettes, up 1 cent a pack, or 6 per cent; salt fish, up 2–4 cents a pound; herring, up 4½ cents a can; California sardines, up 14 per cent or 1½ cents on a 15-ounce can; ceilings on veal, up 7–8 cents a pound ; on beef and pork, up 1–2 cents a pound.

Week by week, from every direction, Big Business nips our pocketbooks. Flushed with wartime super profits, insatiable in its greed, industry shoves the prices of its commodities ever higher. When the masses, goaded desperately, dare to strike to obtain wage increases, all the watchdogs of capitalism shriek in chorus.

The government that protects the wealthy in their robbery, turns with a snarl to confront the workers when they demand decent wages.

In the marathon between wages and prices, except for isolated instances, the bosses can always win, because they have the government on their side. The only ultimate solution for the workers lies in a workers’ government and a socialized economy.


Personal borrowing of money to be paid back in monthly instalments has soared 50 per cent since the end of the war. One prominent instalment banker told the Wall Street Journal he believes many people are borrowing just to make ends meet on day-to-day living costs. “With living expenses racing ahead of their earnings,” he said, “they may be borrowing just because it’s the easiest way to keep their heads above water pending a hoped-for increase in pay or a cut in living costs.”

The business of making instalment loans is fabulously profitable. Most states permit interest rates of thirty-six per cent. Most instalment loans go to men and women with low incomes, in the $l,500–$4,500 a year bracket. The business is so attractive to banks that 80 per cent of them now make personal loans, whereas 15 years ago almost none of them did.


Here is yet more evidence that the plight of the people is worsening in this beautiful post-war world: Total redemption of E bonds (those are the bonds the bosses made you buy during the war if you wanted to hold down your job) in September were $406,136,000, or $98,290,000 in excess of E-bond sales for the month.

The Wall Street Mind

I am always interested in examples of how the minds of the wealthy work, and especially so when the evidence comes from the rich themselves. Here’s a pure example, quoted from a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal. The writer, apparently a landlord, relates that recently one of his tenants ran an ad for common laborers. At least 100 men answered, all wanting work. “This is the first time in several years,” he writes, “that I have had an associate tell me he had been able to turn workers away in numbers to amount to anything. It is a very hopeful sign.”

Ponder on that. How callous must be the person who can find gratification at the sight of a hundred unemployed men seeking work and being turned away. Each one of the hundred is a man, with all the needs and feelings and thoughts and hopes and cares that are common to us all. Many of them are fathers, husbands, with children at home waiting to be fed and clothed, with wives worrying over how to make ends meet.

Yet this scoundrel sees “hope” in the fact that these men are denied work “in numbers to amount to anything.” To make a man like that really sing before breakfast, a good spate of unemployment – say about 10,000,000 – would do the trick. Then wages might be battered down, then profits could soar still further.

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