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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall Street Wire

(23 June 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 25, 23 June 1947, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Diamond as Big as the Ritz

Years ago, Scott Fitzgerald wrote a short story with the above name, a young boy’s fantasy on how the rich live. Later, Ferdinand Lundberg in his splendid study, America’s 60 Families, devoted several chapters to document the private lives and possessions of the wealthy that comprise the royal families of the United States. Just the other day there appeared in the press a little footnote to this subject, and here it is:

Back in 1886 (year of the Haymarket Riot and the fight for the eight-hour day), 100 wealthy northern families purchased, for $125,000, Jekyll Island, off the southeastern coast of Georgia. For 61 years the island has been run by a club limited to 100 members, who must be not only millionaires but the active directors of leading financial or business interests. On the island’s beaches, accessible only by yacht or plane, the Morgans, Rockefellers, Goulds, Bakers, Baruchs and Pulitzers have relaxed in privacy. The owners refused to permit bridges or causeways to connect Jekyll Island with the mainland or other nearby islands. Civilization has touched the island only for the comfort and recreation of Its owners. Most of the island's 3,500 acres have been left to great sea turtles which lay their soft eggs in the sand, and to wild deer which occasionally invade the 18-hole golf courses.

The island’s nine miles of beaches are the finest in all Georgia. Indeed, of the 140 miles of beaches along the Georgian coast, only three miles are open to the people of the state. The late J.P. Morgan was president of the Jekyll Island club. There, in the pleasant months of winter, America’s royalty retires to pass the days and nights amid sumptuous luxury and carefully preserved natural beauty. The golden isle is far from the canyons of Wall and LaSalle Streets, far from the mills and mines and factories and the despised horde whose sweat and toil balances the masters’ easy lives.

When Ellis Arnall was governor of Georgia he raised the issue of purchasing the island from its millionaire inhabitants and converting it into a state park “for the plain people of Georgia.” The demagogue never pushed the issue to embarrassing lengths, however. Now Governor Thompson has asked the island’s owners to sell the place for six times what they paid for it. Bernon S. Prentice, New York banker who succeeded Morgan as president of the island club, told Thompson curtly that the island is not for sale.

Jobs for College Graduates

The biggest job market of all time awaits the privileged college men graduating in 1947, according to an employment survey of 113 colleges and universities by Northwestern National Life Insurance Co. Placement officials of 64 schools state that most of their available graduates are already placed and that they expect the remainder to be employed within a few weeks after commencement; 34 more schools estimate 90 per cent placements by July 1. Thus, 98 of 113 schools estimate 90 to 100 per cent placements by July 1, the survey points out. From 80 to 90 per cent of the male graduates on most campuses are veterans. A considerable part of the current recruiting of college men is for company training programs that will develop what business refers to as “junior executive personnel.” Demand for college graduates is coming from almost every field of industry, but the most active fields of employment are the heavy industries, such as steel and machinery manufacturing, chemical concerns,, the rubber industry, department and chain stores, wholesale concerns, the petroleum industry and insurance. Starting salaries average 10–20 per cent above last spring’s beginning pay.

It sound like a far cry from 1929 and the 1930s, when young men and women used to march, in cap and gown, from the college commencement program to the nearest WPA headquarters or the relief office.

There is no doubt but that conditions have worked to make the present crop of college students more conservative than those who preceded them by 10 or 15 years. The Gl monthly educational allowance – inadequate as it is – and the booming job market have combined to lead present-day students to believe that they actually have a future under capitalism. Because of this mistaken belief, capitalism is the short-term winner. But for the long pull, capitalism will lose. It has little indeed to offer today's college graduates, and even less to offer the hundreds of thousands who remain on the campuses. Most of the veterans will be graduating two or three years hence, when the whole system will be heaving and cracking. The. shocking letdown will be immeasurably sharper than it was for those who came out into the cold world of the 1930s.

When that day comes, most of today’s aspiring “junior executives” will be unceremoniously tossed out on their ears, and will meet the new crops of graduates in the employment offices. Then the veterans will remember some of the things they learned in the course of the war. Then they will have to turn toward socialism, the only movement that can offer them hope and insight and great goals. Then their real education will begin.

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