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Saga of Henry J. Kaiser

(6 July 1946)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 10 No. 27, 6 July 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

At the outbreak of World War II, the Maritime Commission propositioned Henry J. Kaiser to build ships for the government. Kaiser was willing. He put up $100,000 and the Martime Commission put up the rest, including the shipyards to build the ships. In short order Kaiser shook down a cool $9,000,000.

His ambitions aroused by this success, Kaiser set out to become a big-time millionaire. He put up his freshly acquired $9,000,000 and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation “loaned” him the rest – $111,805,000. Out of this deal Kaiser got a brand new steel plant at Fontana, California.

Having reaped a fortune in this spectacular fashion, Kaiser decided to make a real killing. He cooked up a scheme to make 5,000 mammoth cargo planes to ferry 500,000 troops a day across the Atlantic. Aviation experts pointed out that Kaiser had never made a plane in his life and that no aluminum was available. However, brains win every time. Kaiser proposed to make the planes out of wood!

$18,000,000 splashed out of the public treasury into the waiting hands of the genius who had discovered the secret of becoming a millionaire. Kaiser set his carpenters to work. But the experts proved right. You can’t equip a barn with engines and wings and expect it to fly across the Atlantic. Kaiser’s first flying barn is still on the ground.

With the close of the war, the newly-made millionaire entered the automobile business. The government again rewarded his spirit of dare and do. Kaiser got the enormous Willow Run plant which had been built out of public funds during the war.

Then he issued 1,700,000 shares of common stock at $1 and began dumping the gilt-edged paper on an unsuspecting public at $10 a share. The gamble paid off so well that Kaiser decided he’d like a repeat. This time he palmed off 1,800,000 additional $1 shares of common stock at $20.25.

In these two deals, Kaiser sold $57,000,000 worth of stock. Yet he has neither machinery in place to make cars nor steel for bodies or parts.

These are only the highlights in the remarkable saga of Henry J. Kaiser. But they are sufficient to reveal his secret. All it takes to become a millionaire is to pinch pennies, work long and hard, don’t ask the boss for a raise – and make sure a capitalist government runs the country.

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