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Henry Judd

War Bonds: Forced Sayings in the Offing

(September 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 36, 7 September 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The minds of the American people are being prepared for accepting a system of FORCED SAVINGS under which individual purchases of war bonds would be fixed by federal legislation and deductions would be made from the pay envelopes of American workers, automatically. Under, this system, 10 (or perhaps 15) per cent of a workers’ weekly wages would automatically be given to him in the form of bonds. It is stated that the necessity for this is the fact that the voluntary system of war bond purchases has failed.

Voluntary Program Has Failed

Here are some of the facts cited to prove that the voluntary system has fallen short of its mark.

The federal Treasury is aiming at a total purchase of twelve billion dollars in war bonds for the year 1942 (this year). This amounts to one billion dollars of purchases a month and is roughly calculated at 10 per cent of the expected national income of 110 billion dollars this year.

However, according to Treasury reports made public, this quota of approximately a billion dollars has not been met. In July only 900 million dollars of bonds was purchased – 10 per cent short of the goal for that month. For the month of August when the goal was set at only 815 million dollars, since it is a vacation month), purchases were 200 million behind – 25 per cent short of the goal!

The quota for September is again set at one billion dollars, but government officials are concerned about the effect that the September 15 income tax collections will have. At the present pace, it is doubtful whether bond purchases for 1942 will reach a total of ten billion dollars, far short of the twelve billion dollar objective. When Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau was asked recently why the August sales were lagging so far behind, he is reported, to have replied: “I don’t know. You might ask the American public that question.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Morgenthau has not taken the trouble to ask his public that question in an effort to find out why. Accordingly, Labor Action is hazarding a guess at an explanation.

Dotty Lamour Is Irrelevant

Now, there is no doubt about the attraction that Miss Lamour, Lana Turner and Jimmy Stewart have for the American public. Nor is there any question about how much energy these people put into their leg work, shows and other performances during their war bond tours. But the difficulty doesn’t lie there. Would it not be more sensible, Mr. Secretary, to ask yourself a few more serious and important questions when you seek an explanation to your original question?

We take the liberty of suggesting a few answers as to why you are having so much difficulty:

  1. The rising cost of living – particularly SINCE the so-called price fixing program instituted in Washington – makes the proposal that a 10 per cent voluntary sum be paid for bonds each week equivalent to asking American workers to take a 25% per cent weekly wage cut! That’s an awful lot to ask, Mr. Secretary, particularly when these same workers read about the fancy earnings of Mr. Boss.
  2. There is a fundamental distrust of the war and those in charge of it, accompanied by a reluctance to trust the war leaders in anything they say or do. This attitude of cynicism and apathy – often spoken about by the government leaders – is not conducive to the purchase of bonds.
  3. Everyone recognizes the complete unfairness of the whole bond purchasing system. A 10 per cent tax is supposedly levied on everyone – regardless of their circumstances, weekly wages, dependents, savings and position in America; Mr. Boss, salaried executive at $15,000 per year, is democratically the equal of Brother Worker, making the war level wage of $2,000 per year! Both are supposed to give 10 per cent! Reports about big corporations buying blocks of bonds for $50,000, etc., only cause a big laugh, for everyone knows about their profits from government contracts.
  4. The masses of people, already bearing the real burdens of the war in the form of longer hours and harder work, more taxation and military service, are being threatened too much by the rulers of America. On all sides they hear threats of (a) a federal sales tax; (b) an income tax payable in advance by salary deductions; (c) forced savings plan in the English manner; (d) payroll deductions in advance, etc. In a word, they know, feel and see that the financial burden of the war is being placed on their shoulders. Does this induce them to buy more or less bonds, Mr. Secretary?

Labor Action’s Proposal

Save the Hollywood glamor boys and girls for Hollywood! Save wear and tear on the railroad trains and buses that carry the numerous Hollywood Victory Caravans to all parts of the country.

Labor Action has a tax program that will more than pay for the costs of the imperialist war. We’ve suggested it many times and it’s listed in Labor Action every week. Why, only ONE part of that program would take care of the twelve billion dollar war bond fund Secretary Morgenthau wishes to raise this year. This part demands the confiscation of all war profits! After that’s been done, we can continue with the rest of the program and put the burden of the war on those who are responsible for the whole thing to start with.

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