Art Preis Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Art Preis

You Paid for It – U.S. Steel Gets It

(29 June 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 26, 29 June 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

During the war, the U.S. government took $203,000,000 of the American people’s money and built a tremendous steel plant at Geneva, Utah. The operation of this plant was turned over to the U.S. Steel Corporation which made high guaranteed profits from government contracts.

Last week, Attorney General Tom C. Clark approved the War Assets Administration’s sale of this $203,000,000 government-built and owned plant to U.S. Steel for $47,500,000 – that is, a fourth of its cost.

Of course, there was “competitive” bidding. If any of our readers, or all of them together, had made a fair offer of $47,500,001, they could have been the proud owners of a brand-new super-de-luxe steel plant.

It might be argued that our readers and the rest of the workers did own this plant. Well, it’s true they paid for it – but they never owned it. The U.S. government owned it; and it’s a capitalist government.

Since this government is a great defender of “free enterprise,” and since U.S. Steel had $47,500,000 to pay for a $203,000,000 plant, Benjamin Fairless is now the president of a steel empire owning 32,7 per cent of national steel capacity, instead of 31.4 per cent as in 1945.

There is, of course, a trifling matter of anti-trust laws and further expansion of private monopoly. Even the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice had to concede that. The Anti-Trust Division advised Attorney General Clark against the gift to U.S. Steel.

Clark opined that “I do not view the sale, as such ... as a violation of the anti-trust laws.” He piously added that this did not constitute approval of “the conduct of practices of the U.S. Steel Corp, in its use of property.”

That doesn’t worry U.S. Steel. It has the plant. The modest cost – for U.S. Steel – can be defrayed through tax rebates and tax deductions. It can even afford to junk the plant entirely. After all, it just wanted to keep the plant from competitors.

The plant could have been operated by the government under workers’ control. “Free enterprise” has dictated, however, that U.S. Steel must increase its monopoly over national steel capacity by 1.3 per cent even if it means robbing the working people who paid for the plant.

Preis Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 24 December 2018