« PreviousContinue »
Reply to a Banker
H. H. Broach
Given during a public discussion held
I do not wish to seem ungracious or to throw a wet blanket over this gathering, but in the interest of intelligent understanding and discussion, and in fairness to those for whom I assume to speak, I do not feel that I can allow the picture just painted by the gentleman of finance to stand without reminding him, and you, in a most respectful manner, of some of the things he either forgot to say or does not know.
It's quite true that we are living in the best country on the earth, with the greatest educational facilities; the workers, as you say, have better homes; they own more, they have better food and more of it, and more conveniences of life than the toilers of any other land. But, sir, this does not justify or excuse some things which you did not mention. You failed to mention the case of the starving miners who are sick and in rags, living in rotten huts with five and six sleeping in one bed while the rest of us are well clothed and sleeping in clean, spacious quarters. You failed to mention the case of the miserable and hungry packing house workers who are now living in jungle ways while the packers are rolling in wealth. You forgot to say that we now have more hungry and desperate unemployed on our hands than all England, Italy, Germany and France combined, and this in spite of the fact that we suffered less from the war.
You praised the wage workers who went to France, but you neglected to say that these brave men lived among rats and disease at the very gates of hell—men who returned minus arms and legs, and eyes and lungs, and who are now walking the streets sick and hungry, uncared for and with no place to sleep-go over in the park and look at them—while the rest of us are eating and sleeping well. And you said some fine, noble things about our laws, about respect for law, and about the courts, but you did not say that 90 per cent of our laws relate to property rights, while only 10 per cent relate to human rights; and you did not say that our courts are themselves the worst violators of the law, and are rapidly being turned into nothing but strike breaking agencies.
You stated that yourself and associates were little better off than the wage workers, but you did not attempt to explain how it happens that 2 per cent of the people own 60 per cent of the wealth of the land; how another 33 per cent of the people own 35 per cent, and how the remaining 65 per cent of the people own only 5 per cent of the wealth. Nor did you mention statements of eminent authorities contending that 95 per cent of the American people are poor, that 90 per cent are only a year away from the poor house, that 50 per cent are only a week away, and that millions must work today in order to eat tomorrow. While you told of the deposits of workers in the banks, you failed to say that nearly 90 millions haven't a penny in a savings bank, that 66 per cent die penniless, and, according to the Bankers' Association, 95 of every 100 men who reach the age of 75 haven't the means of burial.
And what about the children of the land? As they live or die, as they are well fed or undernourished, as they are educated or ignorant, so fares the nation. I was indeed keenly disappointed when you failed to say anything about the fact that only one-third receive a grammar school course, that only 10 per cent finish high school, and that over 75 per cent are forced to leave school before they finish the 6th grade, mostly to help in earning the family wage. Nor did you say a word about the children of eight and ten years of age who are working from 6 o'clock in the morning to 10 o'clock at night in the shrimp canneries of Louisiana; or about the hundreds of little fellows, and girls, of six years of age who are now working ten hours a day in the beet fields of Colorado; or about those working eleven hours a day in the mills in North Carolina, and those working full time in the mines of Pennsylvania. And it hasn't been mentioned that the babies of the workers in certain sections, according to figures of the government, die at three times the rate of those in well-to-do families.
Then the mothers of our fair land, they have been overlooked. Thirty-seven per cent of them are now at work in the factories, railroad yards, lumber yards, and on their knees in public buildings.
And finally, the wage working girls ; let us have just a closing word about them. Forty per cent of them who marry must return to work after six months married life because their husbands cannot earn enough to support them. Thousands upon thousands of them are now compelled to work for as low as six, eight and ten dollars a week, and many more thousands are forced to turn street walkers and prostitutes to get enough to keep their miserable bodies and souls together.
And all this, sir, is in the best country in the world. God pity those in the worst!
Disloyal to War
H. H. Broach
From an address delivered in Memo-
If people could feel the splash of blood in their faces, if they could hear the explosions of guns in their ears, if they could get a glimpse of a battlefield with its bleeding and dying, they would never again tolerate war. Seldom can you tell human beings the truth about war; it's all too horrible. They do not wish to listen. The truth—the reality-is all so different from the picture of a neat, white bandage about the forehead of your wounded, or the triumphant march of a fresh, victorious army. But they must be told; they must be made to realize that going to war with the present death-dealing machinery and deadly gases, is like a man loading his own gun, digging his own grave, crawling into it and screaming, “Hurrah for Death” and then pulling the trigger.
The horror of it all can best be observed when some struggle has ended, after the shadow of impartial death has visited all alike. For a moment let me turn your mind's eyes to the battlefield. The smoke has cleared away, things have quieted down, and there they lie-insides ripped open, brains spilled, eyes gouged out, arms and legs gone, and their bodies crushed and smeared with blood and mud; faces are gaping and blanched with horror; tucked away in the bosoms of many are photographs of their loved ones, of mothers and wives, children and sweethearts. Now they are burned and torn, and spattered with blood and slime. You can see some who still possess life, yet crying and praying for death; they have existed there for days and nightsGod only knows how—without help, without food or water, while poisonous gases, shells and bullets have been raining about them. But there they lie, some hanging on stakes in a pit, with scores piled on top of one another; many are crawling and cursing, screaming and groaning, bleeding and dying.
Yes, that's war, my friends, that's war, the bloody curse of mankind, the devourer of men, the wrecker of homes, the breaker of hearts, and the curse of women and children. And nowhere amid the shattered guns and cannon, amid the dead bodies and wreckage, amid the broken ambulances and trucks-nowhere amid the mire and mush of blood and human flesh, could you find those who caused and clamored for war. No, they were back home waving the flag, shouting "go on, boys," not "come on, boys."
Of course, you now know how is all begins, how commerce and conquest always cause war; how the "statesmen” enter when differences arise, and then turn around and lie like dogs to the people. Then you see the powerful editorials begin to appear; then the ferocious prayers are heard, the intellectual prostitutes make their "great” speeches, the great ceremonies are held—then the brainstorm is on, then comes the mad recruiting, then the hand-waving and the goodbyes, then the butchering and the blood, then the insane asylums and the crowded hospitals, and now the tears and the taxes.
So let us affirm with all the power at our command that it shall never be again, that never again shall we hate other human beings; never again shall we allow the devil's gospel of hate to run riot in our fair land; that from this day on we will be disloyaldisloyal to war, to poverty, crime, corruption, ignorance and disease.
Let us resolve now, let us begin to arouse those who are not here this morning, to tell them the naked truth about the bloody god of war, the god of war that is fiendishly drunk on the tears of women and children; that's the butcher of mankind, the mock of mothers, who drinks enough human blood to change the color of the waters.
H. H. Broach
A reply made in an open shop debate.
I want to begin by asking my opponent this question: If the open shop is a good thing, if it means justice and freedom to the workers, why do they not want it, why must it be protected by the blacklist, the spy, the thug and the injunction judge? And why do the workers always reject it in favor of the union shop whenever and wherever they are permitted free choice? Now has it not seemed somewhat strange to you that the Citizens' Alliances, Chambers of Commerce, and anti-labor employers' associations have gone out of their way to establish the open shop and spend millions of dollars to sell the idea to the American public—all to "protect the freedom of their employees?” And does it not also seem strange that these interests should suddenly turn "defenders" of those who labor—those whom they have robbed so long? They now assume to be more interested in the welfare of the workers, and pretend to know more about what they want, than even the workers themselves.
Another question I want to ask is this: Have you ever heard of any of these friends of the open shop helping the under dog get a raise in pay, or demanding that children and women be taken out of the mills, mines and the factories? Have you ever heard of them fighting to lower living costs to the people, or insisting that a manufacturer, jobber or retailer should cut his profit? I dare say you haven't, nor has my opponent. But you have seen them insist upon wage reductions for everyone but themselves; you have seen them opposing legislation that was for the protection of defenseless children, girls and women; you have seen them securing favorable rates for manufacturers, wholesalers and jobbers, and assisting public utility corporations in raising their rates to the people. You have seen them vigorously oppose a few dollars bonus for maimed and crippled soldiers, but at the same time support a bonus running into the millions for the railroads; you have seen them spend most afternoons on the golf links, yet bitterly denounce those who wish a half holiday on Saturday; and you have seen them invariably come to the support of every reactionary employer, no matter whether he is right or wrong.