More editorials from my father Bob Wilson, from the newspaper he started and ran from 1958 to 1972. Maroa, Illinois is a farm community, and many of his editorials were about farming concerns, interspersed with everything up to international diplomacy.
May 15, 1958
THE ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD
The only place in the World where a bushel of wheat is still worth two dollars is Maroa, Illinois.
Mr. Benson and his friends in the grain trade have been increasing our income again by cutting the support prices on grain for 1958. Soybeans are the same at $2.09 and corn is down only four cents to $1.36 (national averages), but wheat has been cut from $2.00 to $1.78 per bushel.
Now we think a bushel of wheat is worth two dollars. We have seen no reduction in the price of wheat drills or combines (unless the local dealers stand the loss, which some of them are doing) or in gasoline or repair parts or taxes, all of which it takes to raise a bushel of wheat. It costs close to two dollars to raise that bushel of wheat. The only things being reduced in price is the cost of the farmer's sweat; there is absolutely no price floor on this commodity.
We still think a bushel of wheat is worth two dollars. The subscription price of THE PRAIRIE POST is two dollars per year. Anyone who want two dollars worth for his $1.78 wheat can sack up a bushel of it and bring it to THE PRAIRIE POST office in Maroa. We will give him a year's subscription to our paper in Macon, Logan, De Witt or Piatt County.
June 5, 1958
CORRUPTION INVADES THE UNIONS
This newspaper takes its stand firmly on the side of the Laboring Man in his struggle to attain security and a decent income. We support his right to organize and his right to strike. No-one who reads the history books wants to return to the conditions of a century ago, when children were used to pull the coal-carts in the four-foot-high tunnels of English coal mines, because they were cheaper to keep than Shetland ponies!
It is precisely because we consider ourselves friends of the Labor Movement that we feel free to offer some much-needed criticism.
Labor Union officials have been living too high. There is concern in the Steelworker' Union because their Dave McDonald gets only $50,000 a year, while the steel company executives get two and three times that much.This kind of thing separates the leadership, who live on the dues from the members who pay them. They ought to think instead about the difference between that $50,000 and the $5,000 of the ordinary union member.
Union headquarters in the big cities are showy outfits; and the Union officials now award themselves fat expense accounts, just businessmen do, and spend money with a lavish hand.
Union convention delegates have begun insisting on summer conventions at the expensive boardwalk hotels in Atlantic City, and winter conventions in Miami. They intend to get their share.
To put it in a word, the Unions are losing their idealism. It grieves us to see those who once were champions of the underpaid and overworked, now adopting the corruption and greed of the Big Business community which they set out to reform.
Further, a great many present Union leaders take themselves too seriously. They are utterly without a sense of humor, and can tolerate no criticism from within their own ranks. No provision is made for permitting new leadership and new opinions to rise from the bottom; all too often policies are set at the top and SOLD to the membership afterwards.
Here is the continuing battle of every democratic organization to remain responsive to the will of its members. It is tragic in France to see Frenchmen make such a botch of Democracy that a Fascist like De Gaulle is permitted to take power; it is equally tragic here to see neglect of their rights and duties by the Union members themselves permit some of the present Union czars to usurp absolute power and to enter into dishonest deals with Big Business, as Dave Beck did.
It can happen to a farm organization; and it most assuredly has happened to certain labor organizations.
THE ONLY MEN WHO CAN BE TRUSTED WITH POWER ARE THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO GIVE IT UP. AND THE ONLY ORGANIZATIONS WHICH CAN BE TRUSTED ARE THOSE WHICH HAVE BUILT IN THEM, THE MACHINERY FOR THE ORDERLY TRANSFER OF POWER.
The question is sometimes asked why a higher morality should be expected of Labor leaders than is expected of businessmen; it is because they represent the interests of all those elected them, and because they profess to stand for very high ideals.
There is nothing democratic about Big Industry; Corporations are kingdoms ruled by little groups of owners and managers, and existing solely to make a profit, generally by whatever means is necessary. But if a Union is ruled by a small group, and in the interest of a profit for themselves, then they have betrayed the trust of their members.
Possibly some legislative action would be helpful. If Federal regulation in the interest of the public welfare is good for agriculture, which it is, it must also be good for Labor. The present “Right-to-Work” laws, better known as “Union-Busting” laws, now being proposed in some states, offer no help. They are not designed to control abuses in certain specific unions, but to cripple the effective functioning of all unions, good or bad.
The real answer must come from within. In many unions now, a bitter struggle is going on as the members face up to the fight for a reconquest of their liberties.
Farmers may take warning by their example. In our own farm organizations, we must constantly guard our right to determine their policies by EXERCISING that right, or we may have the same fight on our hands in the not-too-far distant future.