Unions Blame Bosses for Malnutritition but Fees Are No Help

Westbrook Pegler

Knoxville News-Standard/April 16, 1933

TUCSON, Ariz., April 16—A note of pathos has marred the current light and jovial banter over proposals to banish racketeers from the unions and guarantee the free Americans right to work at lawful toil subject to the licensing and taxing power of no private organization. Some of the union publications which, taken as a group, are conducted in the financial and political interest of the boss unioneers at the expense of the workers, have wept over the physical reports of the medical examiners of the draft boards. It appears that a considerable proportion of all the eligibles are rejected for physical unfitness and it is argued that all this is due to malnutrition.

The malnutrition, in turn, is charged to the rapacity of the employers and the conclusion is that, for the sake of their children’s health, American toilers should be required to pay from $25 to $300 or even as much as $3000 out of their starvation poverty for passports through the factory gates. That this money might be better spent for milk and groceries for the young than on yachts, limousine jobs, racing stables and week-end air excursions to luxurious suites in Florida for prosperous unioneers during the wintering time of the criminal scum is a thought which might occur to many objective thinkers.

But, waiving that point, I think we may be of fairly good cheer anyway because not all physical imperfection is chargeable to malnutrition. Flat feet, for example, is the cause of a great many rejections and asthma, which is entirely free of snobbery, afflicting alike the sons of suburban merchants and factory toilers, is the cause of others.

Many of Allies Went Hungry

WE HAVE also many cardiacs whose troubles may be traced to a number of causes other than malnutrition and I have personal knowledge of two young men who never lacked wholesome food at home who were turned back for hay fever and trick knee, respectively The hay fever subject was an applicant in aviation and may be found fit for one of the ground or sea forces, but the trick knee case is a young giant, rising six feet two, and still the doctors would not have him for the Army, although he walks with no limp and plays a fair game of tennis.

Then we have to count in young men suffering from certain impairments subsequent to venereal infection and others who have hereditary physical faults traceable to ancestral ills of the same type And, finally, we will have to subtract some at least whose malnutrition was not due to poverty but to improper cuisine at home. So, altogether, I suggest that the case for malnutrition due to poverty, due to boss-rapacity, due to non-unionism must be considerably less tragic than the kept press of the unioneers would have us think.

But one naturally thinks now of the soldiers of China and Japan whose diet from childhood is considerably below the American standard, and of the poor but hardy Greek who wheeled on the invincible legions of the Duce and would have chased them into the sea but for the intervention of the mechanized robots of Der Fuehrer, whose bitterest complaint against the civilized world was the starvation in childhood of these same faceless men of his. Many of the present fighting generation of British males also lived on short and ill-balanced rations when they were very young.

Billion Would Be a Help

THE Spaniards, tough and brave on both sides of their civil war, were born and raised poor, and our Russian allies of fighting age were conceived in famine and grew to stalwart manhood through a succession of famines. Even the French were not well fed by our standards as French children never are, what with their coffee and wine, but their failure in war was due more to politics than to physical weakness of the individual soldier. Hammered no worse than the British, they fell away in confusion reminiscent of their national parliament, which was the source of their fatal weakness.

One might like to know, if malnutrition of the young is an important factor in this rate of rejection, what proportion of the earnings of the parents was spent on tobacco, for example, and whisky and movies, three very popular and very expensive nonessentials which adorn our standard of living, and what on fuel, rubber and mechanical wear and tear for frivolous mileage in their automobiles.

This leads only into conjecture but, if it is truth we seek to cure our ills, we thwart ourselves in blaming boss-greed beyond the right degree. Added to the net family income of the toiler, the billion-and more a year of earnings that comes off the top for union fees and dues might buy a distinct improvement in the diet of the young of those who pay the toll.

(Source: Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/42484388/the_knoxville_newssentinel/)

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