Frequent references are made in print and by speakers these days to the “silk-shirt” era that followed the conclusion of the first World War. First these references merely stated, “It won’t happen again.” Later it was, “It must not happen again,” and now, “Well, now that it’s here, we must keep it from reaching the proportions of the early twenties.” At the present rate, the final cry will be, “How in hell will we get ourselves out of this depression?”
During the war, factory workers and farmers enjoyed the highest purchasing power ever known. Yet there is a constant clamor for more and more. What everyone actually wants is more and more of the things which make for better living—more new cars, more conveniences, more comforts, more of this and that which contribute to a higher standard of living. Not necessarily more and more money.
Such a demand is good, and the way to meet it is to produce more and more new cars, more conveniences, more comforts, more of almost everything. Only through maximum production can these things be achieved. But everyone concerned, particularly organized groups representing labor, seems to think that more and, more money will meet the demand. All the money in the world is no good if there is nothing to buy with it.
Every work stoppage, every artificial political restraint, whatever its nature, retards production, and thus postpones the day when we can all have everything we want. And stoppages to obtain fabulous wage in-creases only serve further to decrease the value of the dollars gained.
Restraining shackles—including those imposed by the government and those imposed by unscrupulous labor leaders—should be removed from industry to speed up production, alleviate and remove shortages, and slow up the current inflationary trend.
A restoration of the system of free enterprise with competition as its stern but impartial guardian will restore equitable price relationships so that the various groups can exchange the products of their labor with each other at prices that have a sound basis—not at prices artificially predetermined by a government bureau or by a labor union leader.
This competitive system certainly is in the best interest of labor, because under it wage payments would be based on actual productivity— the only real source of income and wealth, both individual and national. Through the years, increased productivity always has provided corresponding gains to the industrial worker, to the farmer, to the white collar worker, to the entire nation.
As a result of government interference, demands of organized labor, and other forces that have been released in the first post-war year, an abnormally high price structure has been created. We are in an era of silk shirts with artificial props precariously supporting many phases of our economy.
It can’t go on forever. Such a situation eventually must be corrected by a return to a buyer’s market. The sooner playing politics with the national welfare is stopped, the less disruption there will be in the transition.