1940s >> 1947 >> no-514-june-1947

The Great “Work Harder” Mystery

In Great Britain we are told we must live austerely, work harder and forego claims for higher wages and shorter hours. If we ask why, the answer is that this is a poor country, dependent on the loan from America, and that we have to reduce our imports and avoid spending precious dollars except for absolute necessities. If, of course, we were in the happy position occupied by America how different would be the attitude towards demands for higher wages.

Well, just how different would it be? In America production and profits have been rising fast—“Corporation profits after taxes are running a third higher than a year ago” (Financial Times, 28/4/47). In the economists’ fairy tales the American Government and the employers would hurry forward to press wage increases on the workers. In real life what they are doing is to preach just the same stuff as is plastered on the hoardings by the British Labour Government.

“To Labour, the President’s advice is that there should be restraint in asking for further wage increases, since substantial increases must lead inevitably to further price increases.” (An American Correspondent in Financial Times, 28/4/47.)

And read what the Daily Mail (23/4/47) prints from Don Idden, its New York Correspondent:—

“There are many exhortations to work harder, and both Bernard Baruch and Alfred Sloan, chairman of General Motors, proclaim that the only solution of current troubles is working a lot more for a lot less.”

We now have the whole thing in a nutshell.

Part I

  “In Britain not enough is being produced. If the workers will do a lot more work without more pay everything will come all right and we shall be like America where production has reached record heights.”

Part II

“In U.S.A. too much has been produced and things are in a bad way. If the American workers will work a lot more for a lot less pay everything will come all right.”

In truth it is not so daft as it seems to be. The American and British capitalists are both out for the same thing, making as much profit as possible out of the exploitation of the workers, and they can always find some plausible propaganda to help on their aim.