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NAM Launches Offensive
to Shatter Price Controls

(2 March 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 9, 2 March 1946, pp. 1 & 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Spearheaded by a multi-million, dollar campaign of the National Association of Manufacturers, American Big Business has launched a powerful offensive to destroy all price controls and rob labor of any wage gains won in the current great strike wave.

Full-page advertisements are appearing almost daily in 600 newspapers throughout the country heralding the demand of the NAM for the removal of all price controls as Wall Street’s “answer” to “inflation.”

These advertisements are timed to coincide with House Banking and Currency Committee hearings on extension of the Price Control Act after June 1946.

The NAM advertisements carry a brazen threat to sabotage production and increase the scarcity of goods unless the profits-swollen corporations secure the “right” to raise prices without restriction.

This threat is contained in the key sentence of the NAM ad: “Remove price controls on manufactured goods and production will step up fast.”

Corporation Blackmail

If price controls are not removed, the implication is clear. The manufacturers threaten to impede and restrict production and force up prices by a deliberately contrived scarcity. In this fashion, the corporations are attempting to blackmail the American people into granting their outrageous inflationary demands.

The green light for this intensified offensive against even the prevailing ineffective price controls has been given by the Truman administration. The government has compliantly granted exorbitant price increases to the steel magnates and proposes to provide no less than a billion and a half dollars in government subsidies to the meat-packing and other food trusts.

At the same time, the administration is fearful of the political repercussions that will inevitably ensue in the event of the completely uncontrolled inflation, which the corporations desire in order to make a monumental price “killing” and sustain their super-profits at wartime levels.

This fear that Big Business may push inflation too far and too fast, and thus provoke further great labor struggles as the workers fight to defend their shrinking purchasing power, was reflected in the appeal of Economic Stabilization Director Bowles before the House committee hearings on price control.

Bowles defended the principle of permitting price increases to guarantee “normal” high profits to the corporations. But he cited as a frightening example of the unrestricted greed of Big Business the fact that the Ford Motor Company had asked for a 55 per cent price increase! This, he said, offered a “pretty good idea” of the devastating inflation that would sweep the country if all price controls were eliminated.

Bowles’ reference to the price extortion attempted by Ford infuriated Congressmen at the hearing. They rose not to protect the people against the price-gougers but to defend Henry Ford II, scion of the billion-dollar Ford empire. One Congressman irately demanded: “Did Congress give you the right to browbeat Mr. Ford?”

Citing government figures, Bowles pointed out how generous the government has been to the profiteers. He declared that “in the last three months of 1945, dividends were as high as at any time in our history. Corporations are looking forward to an excellent year in 1946.”

But grave danger exists that the Big Business-dominated Congress will either kill price control altogether or emasculate it to a point where it will be totally ineffective.

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