The Constitution of the United States empowers Congress to carry out a census at least once every ten years, and to use the resulting population totals to determine representation in the House of Representatives such that each member represents a constituency of approximately the same population. This concept, which sits at the core of our democratic system, was unprecedented at the time of the Constitution’s passage into law, and has served well in affording equal representation to the populations of the various states. After the census is completed, the population totals are made publicly available and are used to inform the redistricting processes that occur in each state, both for congressional districts and state legislative districts (Census). In the process, certain states will gain or lose representation in the House of Representatives due to population shifts, forcing them to carve out new districts that more accurately reflect the new information. Even the states that neither gain nor lose representation must redraw the lines of their districts in order to adequately account for the shifts of the population within the state (Draper 2012).
It must be noted, however, that the United States Constitution does not dictate the processes by which the states redesign districts. This has resulted in highly differentiated and often highly politicized redistricting processes in many states. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, 37 states afford their respective state legislatures the authority to control state legislative redistricting, and 43 states give the state legislature primary control over the process of drawing congressional districts (Brennan Center). This means that whatever party is in control of the legislature of a given state when the census occurs is capable of redrawing districts in a way that disproportionately favors their own party in both the state legislature and in the state’s congressional delegation. This process often results in the creation of very oddly-shaped districts for the sake of political gain, a tactic known as gerrymandering. Allowing state legislatures to control the redistricting process provides them with a set of incentives that are problematic to the goals of democratic representation; legislators are allowed to use completely legal redistricting processes to effectively rig elections in their own favor.
Defining the Problem
In the words of Thomas Mann, a Senior Fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, “Redistricting is a deeply political process, with incumbents actively seeking to minimize the risk to themselves (via bipartisan gerrymanders) or to gain additional seats for their party (via partisan gerrymanders)”(Mann). The bipartisan gerrymandering that Mann mentions refers to the fact that legislators also have substantial motivation to gerrymander districts even when such redistricting does not provide an advantage to their party. Gerrymandering of state legislative districts can effectively guarantee an incumbent’s victory by ‘shoring up’ a district with higher levels of partisan support. This becomes highly problematic from a governance perspective, because forming districts to ensure high levels of partisanship will ultimately lead to even higher levels of partisanship in Congress. If a substantial number of congressional districts are designed to be polarized, then the representatives they elect will also act in a heavily partisan manner, which leads to the kind of partisan gridlock that has become commonplace in recent years.
When assessing the possible impact that bipartisan gerrymandering on the success of incumbent candidates for the House, it can be helpful to compare incumbency rates between the gerrymandering-subjected House of Representatives and the Senate because the Senate is not subject to redistricting. Figure 1 compares the rates at which incumbents seeking reelection win in the House and Senate from 1964 through 2010, revealing that the House generally has significantly higher incumbency rates than those found in the Senate. While a certain amount of this difference could be attributed to random chance and the shorter term lengths of House members, there seems to be a high likelihood that the redistricting processes have had a significant impact on the likelihood of incumbents’ victories in the House.
The 2012 election provides us with a number of examples as to how partisan gerrymandering can have a substantive impact on the results of an election. In Pennsylvania, for example, Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives received 83,000 more votes than Republican candidates. Despite the fact that Democratic candidates won more votes, however, the Republican-controlled redistricting process in 2010 resulted in Democrats losing to their Republican counterparts in 13 out of Pennsylvania’s 18 districts (Ting 2013). In the seven states where Republicans had complete control over the redistricting process, Republican House candidates received 16.7 million votes and Democratic House candidates received 16.4 million votes. The redistricting resulted in Republican victories in 73 out of the 107 affected seats; in those 7 states, Republicans received 50.4% of the votes but won in over 68% of the congressional districts. On the national level, Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives received 1.4 million more votes than their Republican counterparts, yet Democrats only won 201 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives (Wang 2013). Regardless of one’s party affiliation, this kind of disproportional representation of the public will cannot be considered good for the legitimacy of a democratic system.
The redistricting processes as they are currently carried out by the states pose a serious threat to both the legitimacy of our democratic system and the functioning of our legislative bodies. Both partisan and bipartisan gerrymandering are salient problems that must be addressed if representative democracy is to function properly in the United States. Partisan gerrymandering has resulted in elected bodies that no longer represent the political composition of our citizenry, and bipartisan gerrymandering has caused a significant degree of hyper-partisanship, especially in the 112th Congress which set records as the least legislatively productive congressional session in over 60 years (Terkel 2013).
The Brennan Center for Justice. “Brennan Center for Justice.” National Overview of Redistricting: Who Draws the Lines? New York University Law School, 1 June 2010. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
Draper, Robert. "The League of Dangerous Mapmakers." The Atlantic. Theatlantic.com, Oct. 2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
Kusnetz, Nicholas. “Behind Closed Doors: GOP and Dems Alike Cloaked Redistricting in Secrecy.” NBC News. 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2013.
Mann, Thomas E. “Redistricting Reform.” The Brookings Institution. Brookings.edu, 1 June 2005. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
Nagourney, Adam. “New Faces Set For California In the Capitol.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
OpenSecrets.org. “Reelection Rates Over the Years.” OpenSecrets Center for Responsive Politics. Opensecrets.org, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
Siegel, Jim. “Study of GOP Maps Points to Politics.” Dispatch.com. The Columbus Dispatch, 13 Dec. 2011. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
Terkel, Amanda. “112th Congress Set To Become Most Unproductive Since 1940s.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 28 Dec. 2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
Ting, Jan C. “Boehner and House Republicans Lack Mandate to Oppose Obama.” NewsWorks. NewsWorks.Org, 14 Dec. 2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
United States Census Bureau. “Census in the Constitution.” – 2010 Census. Census.gov. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
Wang, Sam. “The Great Gerrymander of 2012.” The New York Times. 2 Feb. 2013. Web. 5 Feb. 2013.
News was once about keeping people informed about issues of substance and fact, about giving the public access to enough facts that they would be able to draw their own conclusions. At some point in the past twenty or thirty years, however, that grandiose notion fell by the wayside with the rise of a more conglomerated, profit-driven form of media. Special interests have spent decades gradually depriving the news of its objectivity; much of what is now called news is no longer focused on letting the public know what they need to know about what is going on in the world, but rather it is either about giving the people a fixed narrative through which they are expected to view the world, or just pandering to the public’s inattention to things that matter.
We have a system that promotes media conglomerates as for-profit organizations, organizations where the primary objective is making a dollar. One would think that to be incredibly counter-intuitive for a democratic political system, where the control of the flow of information has such a direct impact on government and governance. With the growth of these massive media conglomerates, the media has garnered incredible sway over public sentiment.
The problem with news is quite simple: it is now easier for the media to manipulate the facts to fit the narrative than it is for them to manipulate the narrative to fit the facts, and there does not seem to be any coherent effort, political or otherwise, to change that. In 2003 a Florida Court of Appeals went so far as to unanimously affirm in court that FOX News had the right to intentionally lie, distort, and obfuscate in their broadcasts. FOX is certainly not the only news that has been guilty of stretching the truth, but it does seem to be their forte. To be fair, this is perfectly in line with the right to free speech.
A recent poll of 600 New Jersey citizens by Fairleigh Dickinson University actually found that FOX News viewers in the state were actually significantly less well informed on a number of foreign policy issues than people who actually avoid watching and reading the news altogether. This is somewhat unsurprising give that many contemporary news sources care more about viewership than accuracy.
This is, however, an incredibly troubling precedent for a society. Shouldn’t we want our news to have an obligation to tell the truth?
News as we know it has come to be as much about the selective omission of inconvenient facts as it is about keeping the public informed. While some organizations, such as NPR and PBS, manage to maintain their journalistic integrity through public funding, the public can no longer rationally expect the media as a whole to provide unbiased perspectives on practically anything. The interests of these huge media conglomerates that have come to control the flow of information in the US are now so extensively intertwined with the vested interests of big business that it would be almost foolhardy for us to even expect objectivity. I’m not trying to say that objectivity has entirely left the corporate media, simply that subjectivity has become the new norm. The success of contemporary news sources is measured not by how well-informed the audiences of the different programs are, but rather by how many people are watching.
Roger Ailes, President of FOX News Corp, went on television a couple years ago and stated “I’m not in politics. I’m in ratings. We’re winning.”
As a nation, we should be saddened and disturbed by the fact that he is right.
This is the story of how our healthcare costs are being driven up by huge medical manufacturing companies with a vested interest in preventing the expansion and distribution of potentially life-saving medical innovations. This is a systemic problem that shows how things can go wrong when you give people the wrong incentives.
Today, approximately 98 percent of our nations hospitals currently manage their medical equipment procurement through massive entities called Group Purchasing Organizations, or GPOs, and, according to the Government Accountability Office, roughly 73 percent of all non-labor purchases made by hospitals in 2009 were through these entities.
Originally formed in the 1960s, GPOs were non-profit organizations, funded by dues from member hospitals, established to give large groups of hospitals bargaining power when purchasing medical equipment from large medical manufacturing companies, allowing them to push down the price of certain items that their hospitals understandably required in bulk. By the 1970’s, many hospitals began forming for-profit GPOs, and the for-profit business model started taking over the industry.
In 1986, a federal policy change (that was originally designed to save hospitals money on their GPO dues) shifted sources of GPOs’ revenue streams by allowing them to receive their funding through agreements with the large medical equipment manufacturers. These agreements allowed GPOs to receive fees from the manufacturers that were based on percentages of manufacturers’ profits from the goods sold to member hospitals.
For those of you paying attention, that means that the vast majority of US hospitals are buying their medical equipment through profit-seeking GPOs that are financially invested in the hospitals themselves spending MORE money on medical products, because the more money the hospitals spend, the more the for-profit GPOs get in kickbacks from the manufacturers. Smart, right?
It gets worse.
In 1996, the FTC and the Justice Dept. gave for-profit GPOs a categorical exemption from antitrust legislation. The theory behind the move seems sound: the larger the GPO, the better prices they could negotiate for member hospitals. This resulted in a flurry of mergers between the different GPOs, and, as of 2008, 6 GPOs controlled 90% of GPO-related purchases by US hospitals.
Now this means that not one, but two thoroughly counterintuitive, and arguably moronic, systems are now in place:
First off, there is the incredibly perverse system of financial incentives for GPOs: GPOs are supposedly in charge of bartering on behalf of their member hospitals in order to get the best possible deals on medical equipment, but meanwhile, the GPOs’ profits are largely dependent on those Hospitals spending more money than is necessary on the equipment they purchase; in some instances, GPOs have received as much as 94 percent of manufacturers’ profits from products sold to GPOs’ member hospitals. So now you have GPOs and manufacturers supposedly bartering over the price of these goods, yet both the GPOs and the manufacturers have a financial incentive for the prices not to go too low. Which is profoundly stupid, no matter how you look at it.
Second, you also have huge numbers of hospitals that are tied into supply agreements THROUGH these GPOs. What this means is that GPOs are allowed to use their supply contracts with big medical manufacturing conglomerates to restrict their own member hospitals’ ability to procure medical equipment from any outside sources, regardless of whether or not those other sources provide equipment that is superior in either quality or design to the equipment that the GPOs provide.
So not only are GPOs likely responsible for inflating the cost of equipment for which we, healthcare consumers, end up footing the bill, but they are also capable of decreasing the quality of the care we receive by preventing smaller medical manufacturing companies from gaining any share of the market, regardless of whether or not the products of those smaller companies are superior to the competing products that hospitals are already carrying.
By restricting hospitals’ ability to procure medical equipment from suppliers other than those in possession of GPO contracts, the GPO’s have actually stifled innovation in the medical field; any medical innovation that is patented, but not by a large medical equipment manufacturer, sees its manufacturer immediately incapable of selling their product in any serious quantity to the vast majority of US hospitals, because those hospitals are bound by GPO contracts with huge medical manufacturing conglomerates that sell competing, if inferior, equipment.
I don’t want to give the impression that I am making any brazen accusations of explicitly illegal conduct in the GPO industry. While I am positive that much of the GPOs’ conduct is certainly ethically dubious, it was the government that arranged the counterintuitive and inefficient system in which they operate. I am simply making the point that GPOs would almost certainly save their member hospitals more money than they do if their own profit margins were not implicitly tied to the profits of their suppliers, and if those suppliers were not frequently paying them off to continue their contracts.
Adding to the worrisome mess is the fact that some huge GPOs, such as MedAssets (ranked between largest and 4th largest GPO in the country, depending on the website you use), are publicly traded, which means that they have an organizational obligation to provide their stockholders with profits. This is where we should start to get worried; MedAssets has necessarily conflicting interests in concurrently pursuing the best prices for member hospitals and the best return for shareholders.
As it stands, the shareholders are the better off of the two: a Texas-based company named MEMdata that helps hospitals and other health service companies process and compare bids for different products has found that GPO’s consistently overcharge their member hospitals by an average of 22%. The CEO of MEMdata, Bob Yancy, revealed in a 2010 Washington Monthly article that he had received two quotes for the same equipment on the same day from the same vendor. One quote, labelled “aggresive pricing,” was priced at $83,000, and the other, for the exact same equipment, was priced at $131,000. The quote for $131,000 was through a GPO.
Furthermore, a recent study performed by the Medical Device Manufacturer’s Association found that GPOs are responsible for overcharging US hospitals by approximately $37.5 billion dollars annually for equipment. Beyond this, there are numerous accounts of hospitals and other healthcare providers dropping the GPO procurement system entirely and immediately saving anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars annually.
It should be obvious, at this point, that our healthcare prices should be lower, and our equipment should be better, but GPOs are standing in the way of both. Every dollar paid to a GPO by a supplier is a dollar that some patient has to pay to a hospital. And while they’re counting their money, there is a constant flow of medical innovations that are written off as collateral damage.
The truly sad part is that those innovations’ inability to get a foothold in our healthcare market isn’t just costing American money, it’s costing American lives.
It has become apparent that BP deducted essentially all of the costs of cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon spill from their taxes in 2010. According to an article in The Guardian, BP had paid $14 billion total in cleanup costs associated with the spill as of January 2012 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jan/03/bp-seeks-spill-costs-halliburton), yet, according to a recent Fox Article in 2010 ALONE they deducted $13 billion from their federal income tax as ‘business costs’ (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/04/22/bp-cut-tax-13b-losses-spill/)
This is complete and total bullshit. Their spill, caused by human negligence, did an unfathomable amount of damage to the ecosystems in huge swaths of the gulf coast and in the gulf itself, and did an incredible amount of damage to the economies of states with coastline on the gulf, and yet now taxpayer money, or, more likely, debt, has effectively subsidized a hypothetical 92.8% of the costs of the cleanup. This is our money, folks.
It would be fair to note that these numbers come from different sources, and so it is difficult to verify their relative relevance. Either way, however, this is starting to look like a massive con. They came in and tried to exploit hard-to-reach resources, and their own ineptitude caused the failure of their project and directly resulted in negative externalities for the American people that are truly incomprehensible in scale. And then WE PAID FOR THE CLEANUP.
Seriously, people. You should be pissed.
Mind you, I’m not saying what they did was illegal. I’m saying that the fact that they were allowed to do so is unethical. It is patently absurd that BP spent only $14 billion on the Deepwater Horizon cleanup over a two-year period, yet it claimed related tax deductions for $12.8 billion in 2010 alone, before much of that money had been disbursed, and probably before much of that money had even been planned for disbursement for cleanup purposes.
The big picture says those 12.8 billion dollars are 12.8 billion dollars that would have funded federal programs that are currently riding up the deficit. It’s 12.8 billion dollars that are now a debt for the Federal Government, and therefore for American taxpayers.
I’m not claiming that we directly financed the cleanup, but I’m definitely saying that we indirectly financed the living hell out of it.
As one of the people unfortunate enough to have started my undergraduate degree the year before the democrats decreased the interest rates on college loans (which also means that all the loans I have taken from the government AFTER the tuition decrease will remain at the doubled rate, 6.8%), the ongoing battle over interest rates for Federal Student Loans offends me.
The fact that I still have to pay the doubled rate because the Dems didn’t feel like including my ongoing loans in their rate decreases in 2007 also offends me. Obviously it is easy to understand that there were budgetary restraints involved, but it nonetheless seems to have been a cop-out to halve the rates for incoming freshmen while I had to concurrently take out loans at twice their interest rate for no reason other than that they started their college education a couple years after I started mine.
But of all of this, the part that offends me the most has almost nothing to do with my personal financial circumstances. In all the hubbub over the interest rates, the underlying problem continues to be ignored. The part of the problem that I find truly offensive is this:
Since 2001, median weekly earnings for 25-34 year-olds have fallen 5%. In the same period, college tuition rates have increased at a rate of 8% per year on average (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/04/student_loan_interest_rates.html).
For those of you too lazy to do the math, that means this:
Today’s young people will be receiving 5% less money than their counterparts from 10 years ago while paying about 216 percent of the total tuition costs of those counterparts. 216 percent. And that’s not even taking the interest rates into consideration.
It is profoundly disturbing to me that college is becoming more and more necessary for young people who want a place in the workforce while the education sector as a whole is starting to look more and more like a racket.
The aggregate student debt of the US now stands at $876 billion, and for the first time in recent memory there is more student debt than credit card debt in this country. Of that debt, currently $85 billion is classified as past-due. When accounting for the fact that a large portion of that credit card debt is credit card debt held by students (just under $3,200 in credit card debt per student on average, which calculates out to $57 billion total credit card debt held by students; http://www.asa.org/policy/resources/stats/default.aspx), this becomes an even more remarkable statistic.
When one includes the fact that around 50% of student loan recipients are in deferment or forbearance due to circumstances such as ‘currently getting an education,’ and another ~9% of loan recipients have defaulted on loans for which they are in the repayment period, problems become even more apparent. That means that ~20% of the student loans that are actually in their repayment periods are in default, a much more notable and troubling statistic than the aforementioned 9%.
The bottom line is this: the US is in desperate need of reform in the higher education sector. This is an economic model that is obviously and fundamentally flawed, and we need to address it before it becomes a serious economic and fiscal liability moving forward.
Minimum wage today has been shown to be lower than minimum wage was in 1968, adjusted for inflation. From a policy perspective, it’s incredibly silly that minimum wage isn’t automatically indexed to inflation in the first place. Unfortunately, none of the people on minimum wage can afford their own lobbyists to broadcast messages about the class war that’s hurting their clients, and so stories like this frequently fall through the cracks.
… So I’ll just have to temporarily put on my “Lobbying for the Poor” hat and give a look at the state of being poor in America today.
The Buffet Rule couldn’t even make it through the Democratically-controlled Senate. Mitt Romney, presumptive GOP presidential nominee, was recently caught discussing the complete elimination of the Department of Housing and Urban Development as one of his first moves if he gets elected. Obama has been criticized for wanting to reduce wealth disparities when under this administration tax levels have remained at record lows across the board. Moronically deflated capital gains taxes allow the wealthy to pay far lower tax rates than (quite literally) EVERYONE else. Pro-life conservatives are all abuzz about cutting all planned parenthood funding should a Republican win the presidency, even though only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s activity is in any way related to abortions, ensuring that the already limited access that low-income women have to affordable family planning and healthcare will only become less and less available. All this is happening, and the pundits and Republican leadership continue trying to tell us – get this – that there’s a class war going on. Not only that, they’re seriously telling us that the victims are *rich* people. This is actually a thing. They’re saying it over and over and over again and some people actually believe it. This is slightly terrifying.
If a marginally equalized tax burden on rich people is class warfare, then I’m a class warrior. The real class war is by the rich and for the rich, and that’s why these people pay so much lower taxes in the first place. Until 1981 the top tax bracket paid an income tax rate of 70%, whereas the current debate is about whether or not to raise it from 35% to 39.6%, a comparatively tiny shift. The real problem is that the rich also own all the metaphorical megaphones in our society, and it has resulted in the broadcasting of the idea that rich people are victims in this so-called “class war.”
If there’s any single thing that should be painfully obvious about America, it’s that, in America, any semblance of a class war on the rich has become a virtual impossibility. The entire system is designed to be rigged in their favor, and they spend what are, to the layman, unfathomable sums of money lobbying to rig it even more so that we, the public, who are supposed to be in control of the democratic process, can’t even see them rigging it, let alone un-rig it all.
I’m no posterchild for the Occupy movement, but if you follow and understand what’s been going on in the annals power and you’re not angry right now, you’re probably missing the point.
Major General Smedley Butler was the most decorated Marine in US history upon his death in 1940. By the 1930’s, he had become an avid and outspoken anti-war activist. This is his essay, War Is A Racket. It has withstood the test of time as few such political essays can, and I simply hope that you take the time to read it.
Most of the content of this post originated at the following site: http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html
Smedley Darlington Butler
Born: West Chester, Pa., July 30, 1881
Educated: Haverford School
Married: Ethel C. Peters, of Philadelphia, June 30, 1905
Awarded two congressional medals of honor:
capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico, 1914
capture of Ft. Riviere, Haiti, 1917
Distinguished service medal, 1919
Major General – United States Marine Corps
Retired Oct. 1, 1931
On leave of absence to act as
director of Dept. of Safety, Philadelphia, 1932
Lecturer — 1930’s
Republican Candidate for Senate, 1932
Died at Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, June 21, 1940
For more information about Major General Butler,
contact the United States Marine Corps.
War Is A Racket
WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.
Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and agreed to stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried to make a similar agreement. Poland and Germany cast sheep’s eyes at each other, forgetting for the nonce [one unique occasion], their dispute over the Polish Corridor.
The assassination of King Alexander of Jugoslavia [Yugoslavia] complicated matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary, long bitter enemies, were almost at each other’s throats. Italy was ready to jump in. But France was waiting. So was Czechoslovakia. All of them are looking ahead to war. Not the people — not those who fight and pay and die — only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to profit.
There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.
Hell’s bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?
Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in “International Conciliation,” the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said:
“And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. . . . War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it.”
Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His well-trained army, his great fleet of planes, and even his navy are ready for war — anxious for it, apparently. His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter’s dispute with Jugoslavia showed that. And the hurried mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border after the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are others in Europe too whose sabre rattling presages war, sooner or later.
Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant demands for more and more arms, is an equal if not greater menace to peace. France only recently increased the term of military service for its youth from a year to eighteen months.
Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The mad dogs of Europe are on the loose. In the Orient the maneuvering is more adroit. Back in 1904, when Russia and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the Russians and backed Japan. Then our very generous international bankers were financing Japan. Now the trend is to poison us against the Japanese. What does the “open door” policy to China mean to us? Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers and industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.
Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect these private investments of less than $200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all stirred up to hate Japan and go to war — a war that might well cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.
Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit — fortunes would be made. Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few. Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They would fare well.
Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn’t they? It pays high dividends.
But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children?
What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?
Yes, and what does it profit the nation?
Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn’t own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became “internationally minded.” We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington’s warning about “entangling alliances.” We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade might well have been ours without the wars.
It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people — who do not profit.
Who Makes The Profits?
The World War, rather our brief participation in it, has cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 to every American man, woman, and child. And we haven’t paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children’s children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.
The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits — ah! that is another matter — twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent — the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let’s get it.
Of course, it isn’t put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and “we must all put our shoulders to the wheel,” but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket — and are safely pocketed. Let’s just take a few examples:
Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people — didn’t one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn’t much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let’s look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.
Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump — or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!
Or, let’s take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.
There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let’s look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.
Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.
Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.
Let’s group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.
A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.
Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren’t the only ones. There are still others. Let’s take leather.
For the three-year period before the war the total profits of Central Leather Company were $3,500,000. That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in 1916 Central Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000, a small increase of 1,100 per cent. That’s all. The General Chemical Company averaged a profit for the three years before the war of a little over $800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits jumped to $12,000,000. a leap of 1,400 per cent.
International Nickel Company — and you can’t have a war without nickel — showed an increase in profits from a mere average of $4,000,000 a year to $73,000,000 yearly. Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent.
American Sugar Refining Company averaged $2,000,000 a year for the three years before the war. In 1916 a profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.
Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth Congress, reporting on corporate earnings and government revenues. Considering the profits of 122 meat packers, 153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel plants, and 340 coal producers during the war. Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance the coal companies made between 100 per cent and 7,856 per cent on their capital stock during the war. The Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.
And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public — even before a Senate investigatory body.
But here’s how some of the other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.
Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought — and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.
There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn’t any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit in it — so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet.
Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches — one hand scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!
Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam.
There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days, even if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer, the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito netting would be in order.
Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000 — count them if you live long enough — was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France. Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.
Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢ [cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them — a nice little profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers — all got theirs.
Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment — knapsacks and the things that go to fill them — crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them — and they will do it all over again the next time.
There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.
One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.
Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn’t ride in automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.
The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn’t float! The seams opened up — and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.
It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.
The Senate (Nye) committee probe of the munitions industry and its wartime profits, despite its sensational disclosures, hardly has scratched the surface.
Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department has been studying “for some time” methods of keeping out of war. The War Department suddenly decides it has a wonderful plan to spring. The Administration names a committee — with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator — to limit profits in war time. To what extent isn’t suggested. Hmmm. Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those who turned blood into gold in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.
Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitation of losses — that is, the losses of those who fight the war. As far as I have been able to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye, or one arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.
There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent in a division shall be killed.
Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling matters.
Who Pays The Bills?
Who provides the profits — these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them — in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers control the security marts. It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then all of us — the people — got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86. The bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par — and above. Then the bankers collected their profits.
But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.
If you don’t believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran’s hospitals in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men — men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.
Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to “about face”; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.
Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another “about face” ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans mass psychology, sans officers’ aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn’t need them any more. So we scattered them about without any “three-minute” or “Liberty Loan” speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final “about face” alone.
In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside the buildings and on the porches. These already have been mentally destroyed. These boys don’t even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone.
There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time. The tremendous excitement of the war, the sudden cutting off of that excitement — the young boys couldn’t stand it.
That’s a part of the bill. So much for the dead — they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded — they are paying now their share of the war profits. But the others paid, too — they paid with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam — on which a profit had been made. They paid another part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled while others took their jobs and their places in the lives of their communities. The paid for it in the trenches where they shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain — with the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible lullaby.
But don’t forget — the soldier paid part of the dollars and cents bill too.
Up to and including the Spanish-American War, we had a prize system, and soldiers and sailors fought for money. During the Civil War they were paid bonuses, in many instances, before they went into service. The government, or states, paid as high as $1,200 for an enlistment. In the Spanish-American War they gave prize money. When we captured any vessels, the soldiers all got their share — at least, they were supposed to. Then it was found that we could reduce the cost of wars by taking all the prize money and keeping it, but conscripting [drafting] the soldier anyway. Then soldiers couldn’t bargain for their labor, Everyone else could bargain, but the soldier couldn’t.
Napoleon once said,
“All men are enamored of decorations . . . they positively hunger for them.”
So by developing the Napoleonic system — the medal business — the government learned it could get soldiers for less money, because the boys liked to be decorated. Until the Civil War there were no medals. Then the Congressional Medal of Honor was handed out. It made enlistments easier. After the Civil War no new medals were issued until the Spanish-American War.
In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn’t join the army.
So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our side . . . it is His will that the Germans be killed.
And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the allies . . . to please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.
Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the “war to end all wars.” This was the “war to make the world safe for democracy.” No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a “glorious adventure.”
Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.
All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones behind, give up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get it) and kill and kill and kill . . . and be killed.
Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon his community. Then we made him pay what amounted to accident insurance — something the employer pays for in an enlightened state — and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month left.
Then, the most crowning insolence of all — he was virtually blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days.
We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we bought them back — when they came back from the war and couldn’t find work — at $84 and $86. And the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!
Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed sleeplessly — his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.
When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too — as much as and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.
And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying.
How To Smash This Racket!
WELL, it’s a racket, all right.
A few profit — and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can’t end it by disarmament conferences. You can’t eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can’t wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.
The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation — it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted — to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.
Let the workers in these plants get the same wages — all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers — yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders — everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!
Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.
Why shouldn’t they?
They aren’t running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered. They aren’t sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren’t hungry. The soldiers are!
Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket — that and nothing else.
Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has some say. So capital won’t permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people — those who do the suffering and still pay the price — make up their minds that those they elect to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.
Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared. A plebiscite not of all the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying. There wouldn’t be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a uniform manufacturing plant — all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the event of war — voting on whether the nation should go to war or not. They never would be called upon to shoulder arms — to sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.
There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected. Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary to be able to read and write before you may vote. In some, you must own property. It would be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically. Those who could pass and who would therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite. They should be the ones to have the power to decide — and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit and fewer still of whom are in physical condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote.
A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.
At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don’t shout that “We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation.” Oh no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.
Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.
The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast.
The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond expression to see the united States fleet so close to Nippon’s shores. Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.
The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can’t go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.
To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.
We must take the profit out of war.
We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.
We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.
To Hell With War!
I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.
Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a platform that he had “kept us out of war” and on the implied promise that he would “keep us out of war.” Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.
In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.
Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?
An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the war declaration and called on the President. The President summoned a group of advisers. The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what he told the President and his group:
“There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the allies is lost. We now owe you (American bankers, American munitions makers, American manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.
If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lose) we, England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money . . . and Germany won’t.
So . . . ”
Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned, and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War. But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a “war to make the world safe for democracy” and a “war to end all wars.”
Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.
And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.
Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don’t mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?
The professional soldiers and sailors don’t want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.
The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for any potential foe.
There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability. That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle, every tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible, would not be enough.
The next war, according to experts, will be fought not with battleships, not by artillery, not with rifles and not with machine guns. It will be fought with deadly chemicals and gases.
Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns still will be manufactured and powder and rifles will be made, for the munitions makers must make their huge profits. And the soldiers, of course, must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make their war profits too.
But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill and ingenuity of our scientists.
If we put them to work making poison gas and more and more fiendish mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction, they will have no time for the constructive job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By putting them to this useful job, we can all make more money out of peace than we can out of war — even the munitions makers.
TO HELL WITH WAR!