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George Stern

On the War Fronts

(10 May 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 19, 10 May 1941, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the offices of the major press associations and newspapers there sits a man whose job it is to add up all man-hours being lost from the war program by the succession of strikes in which workers are asking wage increases as a cushion against rising prices. With Knudsen, Willkie and all the other spokesmen for the bosses warning us about thirty-day crises and ninety-day crises, they even go so far as to calculate – these little men in the newspaper offices – that the losses in man-hours as a result of these strikes might even make the difference between victory and defeat.

Consequently it was a matter of no small interest to discover in the well-informed Washington column of Arthur Krock in the New York Times, that some of our big industrialists are holding up a cool billion dollars in war contracts. Why? Because they are not yet satisfied that the government will build and GIVE them the plants in which these contracts are to be executed. N.Y. Times, April 30: “Unless the contracts involved are soon put in the works,” he writes, “the second stream of armament production will be perilously retarded.”

“Perilously retarded.” Why then the absence of any public uproar over this perilous situation? Every shavetail Congressman and Administration office boy has been calling for action against strikers – action ranging from flogging to the death penalty. Why have none of these patriotic worthies gone to bat against the big-money manufacturers who refuse to budge a dollar of their own funds until the government gives them ironclad, cash-on-the-line guarantees that when the “emergency” is over the government – i.e., the mass of the people via the road highway of taxation – will stand the whole whack and the profits of the bosses safeguarded against tax inroads.

During the past week or so the financial pages of the newspapers have been filled with dizzy, astronomic figures showing the profits of many big utilities and industrial concerns for the opening quarter of 1941. These, profits have been so enormous that the N.Y. Times financial editor felt compelled on May 5 to state apologetically that these earnings “appear to have set a peak which will not be matched in the duration of the war.”

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