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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall Street Wire

(4 November 1929)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 44, 4 November 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

All of Washington’s pretenses that it was making efforts to control prices on the nation’s food and drink have now gone out the window, with the lifting on October 23 of price controls on remaining items such as flour, bread, whisky, beer, soft drinks, restaurant meals, fish, desserts, and canned goods. Only items remaining under “control” are rice, sugar and syrup.

A combination of real and artificial scarcities, mixed with Big Business politics, has now lifted living costs so far beyond the means of the average family that bourgeois economists are worried. There is no mass labor party in the United States to organize a buyers’ strike – but such a strike is nevertheless taking place. High faxes and low wages do not leave the housewife enough to permit her to enter the market for items that were once looked upon as staples in the “American way of life” – like meat, butter, cotton sheets and pillowcases and towels. From all parts of the country, butchers and shopkeepers are complaining that the people won’t buy their wares.

I look for prices on many commodities to tumble somewhat after the November elections. The Republican Party has done a good organizational job in persuading businessmen to hold their commodities off the market for the purpose of making Truman look even sicker than he is as a politician. But the planned scarcity tactic cannot be pursued much longer. Each businessman is becoming increasingly worried that, if he holds off much longer, he will be left with a lot of goods and no buyers at the high price level.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a flood of cotton goods will deluge the public by December – that is, after the elections. Civilian Production Administration officials believe that during recent months as much as 60 per cent of production of cotton cloth has gone into warehouses rather than to the market. Buyers for the big retail stores are getting cautious. “Manufacturers have been making all this cotton stuff right along and have a lot ready to dump in our laps,” said a Cleveland retailer. “The pipelines are filled up. All it takes is for some one to turn on the faucet.”

Cotton mills are now producing at the rate of about 9.5 billion yards a year, a third more than in pre-war years.

Your Taxes

A phenomenon of recent years has been the extremely rapid growth of the sales tax as a means used by the wealthy to finance their government. The sales tax, as Lenin once pointed out, is one of the most unfair methods of taxation, in that the poor, who must spend all they earn in order to live, thus pay a disproportionately large tax, the wealthy being taxed on only that portion of their income which they spend. The very existence of the disgraceful and unfair sales tax is an index of the political immaturity and weakness of the American workers.

Now the wealthy are becoming even more brazen in their fax policies. Big Business in California, for instance, is preparing a bill to increase the present 2½ per cent state sales tax to 4 per cent ... Wealthy tax lawyers are cooking up a scheme whereby their clients can claim a “travel for health” tax deduction, based on a wintertime jaunt to Florida – on the doctor’s orders, of course.

The sales tax on cigarettes has been a bonanza for state governments. Cigarette and tobacco taxes have spread more rapidly in recent years than any other single form of taxation. Thirty-one states are now resorting to such taxation, as contrasted with 26 states in 1940. Revenue derived from such taxes in 1945 amounting to over $164 millions, this year has jumped 85 per cent. In 1930 the comparatively few states then levying taxes on tobacco received only $10.5 millions. Rates vary today from 2 cents to 5 cents a pack. Seven states levy a tax of 2 cents a pack; eight states collect 3 cents; three states collect 4 cents; while the others – Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma – collect 5 cents. Several states, including Illinois, are proposing as part of a state soldiers’ bonus program an increase in cigarette taxes.

The cigarette tax racket is so good that some cities have gotten into the business. Among the major cities currently collecting cigarette taxes, and the amounts thus derived in 1944, are: St. Louis, $1,281,081; Kansas City, $645,290; Denver, $330,037; and Birmingham, 377,372.

Schweinhaut Quotes The Bible

Henry A. Schweinhaut, the scrofulous young attorney whom the Department of Justice sent out to Minneapolis in 1941 to prosecute the Trotskyists, was rewarded for his work by being made a justice in the district court in Washington, D.C. The other day a defendant charged with stealing a few bottles of liquor appeared before Justice Schweinhaut. The defendant pleaded guilty, but quoted from the Bible on the virtues of forgiveness. Schweinhaut came right back with the verse from Exodus, “Thou shalt not steal,” and gave the defendant up to four years.


The Mormon Church is one of the wealthiest groups of spookery peddlers in the world. The Mormons, who next year will celebrate their centennial in Utah, own department stores, hotels, railroads, airlines, mines, sugar beet and canning factories and other properties. A member of the Council of Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church, addressing the church members recently, called for outlawing strikes, on grounds that the strike “breeds lawlessness, eventuates in anarchy and will destroy any government or society.” Successful strikes in Utah would also cut into the profits of the spook artists.

Attorney General Tom Clark has written to the nation’s lawyers asking them to see that participants “in mob violence” are speedily brought to justice. The copper, expressed “deep concern” over the increasing number of oases of mob violence throughout the country. Reminding the lawyers’ organizations that, unfortunately, the authority of the federal government in cases of mob violence is extremely limited, Clark promised that the Department of Justice would investigate carefully each such case, and make its reports available to state and local authorities. The government knows that its policies are inevitably forcing large masses of workers to struggle. When such struggles develop, Clark is promising the bosses full support of his department.

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