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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall Street Wire

(16 December 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 50, 16 December 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The international lamp cartel, headed by General Electric Co., one of the Morgan properties, has purposely lowered the quality of light bulbs and shortened their life, in order to sell more bulbs and make bigger profits. This disclosure is made by the Twentieth Century Fund, which quotes from some interesting correspondence. One General Electric executive, for instance, wrote to another, saying: “The constant process of reduction of lamp life that we have been carrying on has kept the volume of business up.” ...

In a memorandum from a G.E. engineer to another official, it is stated:

“Two or three years ago we proposed a reduction in the life of flashlight lamps from the old basis, on which one lamp was supposed to outlast three batteries, to a point where the lamp and one battery would have about the same life. The battery manufacturers went part way with us on this and accepted lamps of two battery lives instead of three. We have been continuing our efforts to bring about the one battery life lamps. If this were done, it would increase our flashlight business about 60 per cent.” ...

An electrician tells me that another trick of the lamp trust is to market Christmas tree lights, bunched in eights in such a way as to guarantee that the lamps will be ruined in one season, thus making it necessary to purchase a new light string. One way to get around this trick is to string three or four more bulbs onto your tree lights. All will last longer ...

But to return to our theme: What do you think of a social system whose rulers deliberately cheapen and worsen their goods so that they will wear out, all to the end that the profits may be larger? Short-lived lamp bulbs, automobiles that will only last a few years, houses that gape and settle before their occupants hardly get in the door, shoddy woolens and clothing, shoes that come apart in wet weather, adulterated foods and drinks. The list of capitalist crimes in this particular category is endless. A socialist society would have no such incentive for cheating and rooking the people. On the contrary, it would have every reason to make everything of top quality, with an abundance for everyone.

Who Owns General Motors?

It has come to our attention that the General Motors Corporation is peddling a lot of pious baloney in its house organs, addressed to its workers, calculated to make them believe that that fortress of the duPonts is a “democratic” institution, because, don’t you see, its stock is widely held. Everyone in the financial world knows that G.M. is one of the duPont enterprises. Here is what the National Resources Committee study of the Structure of the American Economy had to say about this segment of America’s 60 Families, back in 1939:

“The duPont group comprises only four companies, three industrial and one bank, but they are all in the top rank with respect to size. Like the Rockefellers, the duPonts exercise control through substantial minority stockholdings. Theirs is a compact, closely knit group. The k.ey company is E.I. duPont deNemours, which the duPonts control through a family holding company, the Christiana Securities Co. The latter owns about 25 per cent of the voting stock of E.I. duPont deNemours, which in turn owns approximately the same proportionate interest in General Motors Corporation. DuPonts and duPont representatives dominate the management of both companies. The third industrial in this group Is U.S. Rubber Co., in which another duPont family holding company, called Rubber Securities Co., owns about 20 per cent voting power. The duPont bank is the National Bank of Detroit, on the board of which sit five General Motors officials.”

Industrial assets of the duPont group in 1939 were valued at $2,232,000,000, but of course have grown c.onsiderably since 1940.

“New Money” Preferred Stock

On November 27 a nationwide group of investment bankers, led by Morgan Stanley & Co. offered the largest single “new money” preferred stock issue in the history of American finance – General Motors’ offering of $100 million new preferred stock, at $100 a share. The Wall Street Times reported that “Charitable funds and banks purchasing for the account of trusts managed by them will rank high on the list of subscribers. Three of New York’s ‘Big Five’ life insurance companies will be listed as buyers. Other probable buyers were said to include universities and schools.” ... But never forget – no matter how widely G.M. stock is held, control is still tightly held by the duPonts, who skim the cream off for themselves.


Chrysler Corporation has increased prices on its entire car line, from $8 to $104 ... Studebaker announced increases ranging from $32 to $64 ... Hudson Motor Car Co. announced increases of $60–$90 on all models ... Kaiser-Frazer has raised prices of its Kaiser auto by $94 to $1,739, and of its Frazer car by $124 to $1,919 ... General Electric recently increased prices on its home appliances, without even a public announcement. It acknowledged the move only after word had leaked through distributors.

The Landlord Breed

A Chicago landlord, writing in the November 29 Wall Street Journal, says he’s worried about the fact that the “strike bug” appears to have bitten some landlords. He was referring to the action taken by his fellow parasites in many parts of the country whereby vacated apartments were held off the market. He suggested a slicker way to cheat the homeless. The landlord, he writes, “should have enough common sense to send the prospective tenant to the OPA rent control office for written permission by the OPA to pay the owner a reasonable increase (in rent). The OPA will not grant the permission ... but this denial by the OPA will make a lot of GIs and other prospective tenants very angry at the OPA. Landlords might try this method which will prove very bitter to the OPA, but will gain a great many friends for the owner.” ... And, he should have added, will still keep the vacated apartment off the market, leaving tens of thousands of GIs and other prospective tenants homeless.

Nationalization in England

From London come reports of sharp rises in the prices of rail and highway transport shares following publication of the transport nationalization terms of the Labor Party government. All transportation in England is due for nationalization on January 1, 1948. The nationalization bill states that undertakings will be compensated for on the net value of shares, plus extra compensation in some cases. That’s right up the alley of the wealthy British owners, who have already earned many times their original investments. The fair way would be to nationalize the railroads without a penny of compensation to the owners. The Labor Party, in its present condition, would never take such a radical step.

Tweedledum And Tweedledee

President Truman is vying with the Republican Party to see which can cut the federal budget deeper. The joker for the people is that with both boss parties vigorously supporting a program of Imperialist expansion, no budget cut can be very deep. Truman contemplates a budget of $37 billion for the 1948 fiscal year, with the Republicans talking of a $29 billion budget. Here are some items that will not be cut by either party: Interest on the national debt to the bankers, $5 billions; tax refunds to Big Business, $2 billions; military, $10–12 billions; general government costs, about $1.9 billions; veterans’ benefits, about 7 billions.

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