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David Coolidge

Mass Action

(23 April 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. X No. 17, 23 April 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Black Market Is Necessary for Profits

It has been my contention for sometime that the use of the expression “black market,” especially when applied to the meat situation, was incorrect. What is called the “black market” is nothing more nor less than the regular activity of “our system of free enterprise” carried on for profit-making under the “restrictions'’ laid down by the OPA. The so-called black, market is a method used by the big packers, poultry raisers, canners and produce jobbers to raise prices despite the official price ceilings.

There are five big meat packers in the country. They control not only the meat packing industry but also to a large extent the raising of cattle. Altogether there are less than 100 packers of any consequence. Then where do the little fellows get the meat which sells at “black market” prices? From these packers of course, all of whom are members of the American Meat Packers Association. This is an organization like the Iron and Steel Institute which controls the production and marketing of steel and steel products.

The members of the Meat Packers Association may not increase their profits directly right now from their connivance in “black market” operations but they do hope by this procedure to defeat the price control measures of their government to the end that they may be granted “legal” price increases. They do this by withholding meat from the market and by conspiring with the go-between shysters to run meat through “black market” dealers.

And now comes one Arthur Winn, representative of the packers, to admit that all of this is true. Winn admitted in testimony before the Senate Banking committee that many packers are violating price ceilings and are operating in the “black market.” The packers don’t like the OPA rulings and the price ceilings and they refuse to abide by them. They refuse to submit financial statements tothe OPA. One can understand this when it is revealed that the profits of the meat people have jumped 700 per cent (That’s one for the capitalist press to write editorials about.)

The packers and others in the food industry are only following in the footsteps of the airplane manufacturers and other “free enterprisers.” If their government refuses to give them the profits which they demand they will refuse to produce, and in the case of the meat producers, what they do produce they sell through the “black market,” And nobody stopped them: the President, Byrnes, “the White House spokesman,” nor OPA Bowles, nor Congress.

The capitalist manufacturers and bankers are not impressed by the speeches of Murray and Thomas about the boys dying in Europe because they don’t get enough supplies from the home front. They know that the purpose of the dying is to guarantee profits to U.S. “free enterprise.” They are not fooled about this. They know that the best patriot is not the youth who dies on the battlefield but the man who remains at home and keeps the profits of capitalist industry at an all-time high. If you want to be a real patriot and go down in history as a man who served his country well the thing to do is to become a meat packer during war time, boost your profits 700 per cent, boost the cost of living 43 per cent while wages go up only half that amount and the boys die on the front by the hundreds of thousands.

Also the working people should not forget that the meat packers, the automobile and steel makers, the shipowners, the coal operators and all of “free enterprise” had a president who approved their profit boosting schemes, so that they might get their profits not only in wartime but after the war is over. A National Service Act which was demanded chains the working class to the 700 per cent-profit mines, mills and factories.

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Last updated: 5 December 2017