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Jack Ranger

Tapping the Wall St. Wire

The Best the System Can Offer

(24 May 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 21, 24 May 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The workers in the United States have, in the period from 1941 to the present, enjoyed the best that the capitalist system has ever given them or is ever likely to give them. There have been more jobs available than ever before. Money wages have been higher than ever before. More goods have been turned out than ever before.

Yet, just how much better off are we today than we were in 1939?

Let us sit as a jury-and-judge and pass our judgment on what capitalism has to offer us – not in its worst days, not from 1929 to 1939, but in its palmiest days, flushed with war and postwar prosperity.

Today let us receive evidence from one of the journalistic bulwarks of capitalism. Not from the CIO research department, not from socialist archives, but; from the U.S. News and World Report, issue of May 7, an article entitled: End to Easy Raises in Pay: Workers’ Gains and Losses.

”Pay raises are going to come harder from now on,” the article begins. “This is to be true of raises in wage rates and in salaries as well.”

The remainder of the article is a succinct report of what has happened to various groups of workers since 1939, measured by changes in weekly “real” incomes (that is, wages adjusted for cost-of-living increases, after federal taxes).

What Happened to Wages

Here is what the report shows:

That ends the simple exhibit.

In the light of this evidence, do you believe: “the changes in ‘real’ take-home pay since the war end have meant only modest gains or actually have brought losses,” as observed in U.S. News. “All the strikes and turmoil of the last three years led to a general marking up of price tags, both for wages and salaries and for goods. Yet the net addition to living standards, except for a few groups, was not great.”

Proves Need of New Weapons

In the light of this evidence, do you believe:

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