DECEMBER 31, 1951
En Route to PARIS, Sunday—During my brief holiday visit at home, I was reminded of an editorial which appeared in Paris commenting about the recent CIO convention in New York. In this editorial the CIO leadership is praised for the adoption of measures "to curb jurisdictional disputes between member unions and the resolution on corruption and ethical practices." At the same time, it is blamed for its "lack of economic understanding and a lamentable disregard of the national interest" because it attacks wage stabilization.
The editorial writer has to acknowledge that the CIO is truthful when it states that price control is ineffective in the United States because of the pressure of selfish interested groups on Congress. It goes on to point out, however, that we are in a period of crisis and that inflation menaces our whole economy. Therefore, forsooth, the labor unions should be wiser and more unselfish than either our industrial leaders or our government.
That, I submit, is asking a good deal of labor. If you earn so much a week, and you are accustomed to paying so much for rent, so much for food and so much for clothes and other fixed charges—and then all those charges go up—an industrialist's answer is to charge more for his product to the public, never to cut his own profits. Labor's answer is even more natural. Since the worker would otherwise have to change his entire mode of life, labor asks for higher wages to cover the higher expenses.
In this situation government—as represented by the members of Congress, who admittedly are acting under the pressure of private interests—should have the courage, it seems to me, to resist those pressures. They should say there can not be any higher prices and there cannot be any higher wages. If the two are coupled together, then it is fair—and labor will, I feel sure, submit to a fair proposition.
But to expect more from labor than from any other source seems to me an unfair proposition.