1970s >> 1977 >> no-869-january-1977

Letter to Jimmy

Fellow American,

President-elect James Earl Carter                                                   
Plains, Georgia, 

Dear Jimmy,

Inasmuch as you-all are about to take over the chores in the Oval Office of the White House, ah hope you don’t think it presumptuous of me to make this little offering toward your announced goal of he’ping the working people of this great country. We sure can use a mess of he’p and since ah believe ah knows what’s wrong with the nation and the world ah believe it would be a downright crime to withhold the information. Since you-all has been running what you tell us is a lucrative bidness, yo’se’f — a peanut bidness — maybe we-all can tackle the problem from that angle. Condense it, so to speak, to a peanut.

Now it goes without saying, Jimmy, that if one is to produce anything and hope to make profits one has to concentrate on items that are saleable. It wouldn’t make sense, even in Plains, Ga., to produce outhouses because there just ain’t enough people today without in-door plumbing. Chances are you still have a few of those chic sales around with the Sears-Roebuck catalogues hanging from the doors but, mostly, they just have antique value. A fellow might do all right for awhile, manufacturing phoney antique out-houses but the market would soon be flooded! So you’ve got a gold mine in those peanut plantations of yours because most folk still have the kind of teeth you need to eat them. And I can’t he’p but think how all those toothpaste bidnesses he’p the peanut bidness because they encourage everybody to grow strong, healthy teeth like the successful politicians. And, anyway, peanuts make right good eating and are packed with all them useful vitamins. In fact, ah believe that peanuts are all we really need and if we could get everybody to eat practically nothing but peanuts we wouldn’t need all those high wages. Peanuts could be produced in such a mass quantity that the price would come away down and we could all afford to work for peanuts, literally. But ah’m wandering from the subject and I must get back to it, dreckly.

Now having made the point that you have to produce something that people want, I have to make another point. And, Jimmy, you ain’t going to believe this. Not straight off, anyway. Your profits don’t come from peanuts and you’re really not producing peanuts. You are growing and marketing a commodity and it wouldn’t make any difference to your well-being if peanuts were used to fill up the Grand Canyon instead of to eat. And your profits actually come, not from the peanuts, but from the unpaid labour time your wage-slaves and all other wage-slaves put in.

Yes, Jimmy, ah said slaves and ah meant slaves. Sure, you don’t own them “body and soul” like in those old times “that are not forgotten”. And, sure, you are said to be one of those “Good Ol’ Boys” rather than those traditionalists who hate to see the old ways disappear. But you have to admit, Jimmy, that this new way of doing things ain’t bad at all for bidness. In fact, it’s a heap better because you don’t have to do much else than pay the market price for human energy except throw in some extras to take care of extra hardships that happen because the competition makes you pay as little as you can get away with. But it all adds up and it ain’t so bad, is it, to sing along with some of them in church and in Sunday School? It all smells a heap better than it used to in those old chattel-slave times or even in those pre-Civil Rights days. Brotherly love with wage-slaves pays off!

But let’s get down to brass tacks on this bidness of you-uns he’ping we-uns. You seem to think that the main problem is unemployment, and that ain’t the case at all. In fact, unemployment could be down right enjoyable if Welfare checks were high enough to live decently. The main trouble, Jimmy, is employment, at wages. Because that’s what makes slaves of most of us, dependent for our very lives on the chance to make profits for employers. And our masters can’t pay us enough to make life worthwhile, even if they wanted to, because their competition on the labor market (the wage-slave market) won’t allow it. Then, too, doesn’t a sizeable army of unemployed he’p to keep the wage rates down!

So, Jimmy, if you-uns really want to he’p we-uns, you gotta remember that the trouble is the production- for-profit motive for peanuts and everything else. Why not study this problem and how to solve it with common ownership of all the peanut plantations and everything else that is designed to produce wealth? You could use it as a text for your Sunday School class at the Plains Baptist Church — that is, if your fellow worshippers will let you get away with it.

Yours for World Socialism, and that ain’t peanuts!

Harry Morrison
World Socialist Party of the United States