Newspaper Page Text
Friday, July 80, 1920
THAT THE COUNTRY
MAY KNOW THE FACTS
The American Legion Relieves It Is
Living Up to Its Highest Ideals in
Asking for the Passage of
the Compensation Bill
BY JAMES E. DARST
(In American Legion Weekly)
(This is the first of four articles
setting forth the reasons which de
termined the American Legion to
lead the fight for an adjustment of
compensation for ex-service men and
"The American Legion had not
passed its first birthday when it was
called on to solve one of the biggest
problems it probably will be called
to face in many years.
It was as if an infant were sud
denly put to it to decide what his
life-work should be.
It was a delicate and a puzzling
question, too, differing in this from
the majority of American Legion
issues, which are clear-cut and out
standing. We are banded together
"for God and Country to uphold and
defend the Constitution of the Unit
ied States of America." Surely mat
ters of policy should be easy of de
termination with this broad founda
tion to build upon.
But this question was not so easy.
Similar situations have arisen in
the past to puzzle the most intelli
gent and sincere of men. The Con
stitution of the United States is a
broad and noble charter. But this
nation battled with a matter of
ethics for 50 years until the solu
tion could be postponed no longer,
and Lincoln made the decision with
his words: "This country cannot
exist half slave and half free."
Easy enough—now. We second
guessers, with half a century of
demonstration behind us, can be
complacent that Lincoln chose the
right way. But it was not so easy
for Lincoln. The 30 years of dem
onstration were ahead of and not
So, the American Legion was only
a few months old when this "bonus
Question" came up for a decision.
Here we were, pledged to be the
nation's defenders. Our ideals were
the loftiest; we were bound by the
holiest of pledges. Then, with our
hearts still thrilled by the sanctity
of our vows, we were put to it to
decide whether it was our duty to
ask our country for something.
The matter stood lika this: Four
and a half million men and women
had served the United States in the
World war. Were they entitled to
any compensation or assistance in
reestablishing themselves in addition
to what they already had received?
Let us grant, for a moment, they
were, and are entitled to extra com
pensation. Indeed, few persons deny
the justice of the claim. Then,
what should the compensation be?
How much? How based on service?
In what form payable? When pay
Grant again that these questions
can be equitably answered by per
sons expert in the solving of such
economic problems and always bear
in mind that the country at large
must not suffer in the solution. Now
we come to the American Legion
problem, our problem: Should we
ask the country for this compensa
tion? That was the. question that
faced the Legion and its leaders
while the Legion still was—and is—
in its infancy.
It would have been no problem it
all if congress had paid the acknowl
edged debt to the ex-service man
without his asking for it. But it so
frequently happens that payment of
just debts must be sought. You can
count it over on your fingers and
prove to your own satisfaction that
a man owes you something, but you
have to make him see it, as well, and
keep bringing it to his attention.
Congress, acting for the nation,
was slow in acknowledging the debt
and showed little disposition to pay
it. It looked as if the matter would
be allowed to slide until the debt be
came outlawed. Quickly enough
people have forgotten the war and
the men and women who served.
So, the American Legion was
called on to decide, at once, whether
it should do the proving to congress
that it owed something to former
service men and women and to per
suade congress to pay. I believe you
will agree that this was the most
important question that the Legion
and its leaders ever will be called on
to answer. It was so big it was
staggering. Should we apparently
discard our ideals, just when we had
visioned them, and hold out mercen
ary palms for money?
The easier way out would have
been for the Legion and its leaders
to cater to expediency In solving the
probelm. The Legion could have
pointed with pride to Its lofty ideals
and have assumed the attitude that
if the nation did not care to com
pensate us we never would unbend
enough to ask.
The Legion could have said: "Yes
the nation does owe something to
the former service man, but the na
tion is upset now. The service man
has proved' he is patriotic and he
will not embarrass the country by
asking it to pay him."
Or: "We love our country and
we can not ask it for anything. We
want to give, not take."
Beautiful sentiments! How every
one would have applauded our de
cision! The American Legion—ah,
yes, the boys who fought but scorned
to ask! What wonderful Idealists
That would have been the easier
way out. But there were too many
grim facts in the way to permit us
to take that path.
Weighing these facts and balanc
ing them against the more delightful
fancies I have just enumerated, the
Legion could do nothing but decide
it must go after compensation; ask
for It and ask in no uncertain tone.
Congress made us ask; very well, we
have done so, believing the justice of
our claims will assure success.
As I have said, this was not an
easy decision. It was made only
after the Legion leaders had looked
deep and considered carefully. They
got all the facts and weighed all the
evidence and then took what their
hearts and heads told them was the
Some of our fellow-citizens have
not so carefully decided. They have
leaped at the easier solution. They
think the Legion has erred in asking
for payment of the debt to the ex
service man. Some of these citizens
are former service men and women
themselves and members of the
If they knew all the facts it seems
certain they would decide as the Le
gion as a whole has decided —that
the country does owe something and
should pay it; and that, since the
necessity arose, the Legion did right
to ask for payment. It is only fair
they should be given these facts.
"What about the bonus?" you for
mer service men are asked.
Tell the inquirer, first, that this is
not a bonus" you Keek, it is just
and fair compensation Tell hi.n
what ycu want and why you want If.
A great many former service men
do not even know what the proposed
plan of compensation is. Perhaps in
their hearts they believe loyal Amer
leans always should give and never
take. So the Legion leaders thought
until they heard all the evidence.
Arguments against compensation
have been spread broadcast. The
real situation frequently has been
misrepresented, either through mali
ciousness,or through ignorance. Too
much stress has been laid on the
cash compensation feature. As a
matter of fact it is realized this is
the least desirable to the service
man and to the country. It is fairly
i.B*umed that a majority of former
service men and women will choose
one of the other three forms of com
pensation. But opponents of com
pensation have croaked at the "raid
on the treasury" as typified by the
issuance of bonds to former soldiers.
They have conveniently forgotten
the benefits of land settlement, home
aid and vocational training, not onl"
to the service man but to the coun
try as well.
You have been told payment of
compensation would wreck the coun
try? Have you ever heard the an
swer to this? Have you ever pon
dered that four months of the war
would have cost the country as much
as the whole compensation program
will cost and that the money would
have been raised, somehow, without
"wrecking" the country?
You have been told it was un
patriotic to ask for compensation.
Have you questioner the motives and
the connections of the man who told
you this? Now patriotic was fie?
The arguments advanced against
your interests have been legion, and
they have been wrought by shrewd
minds. They are all answerable, and
you should know the answers.
Looking at it in a mere dollars and
cents way, soliders" and sailors un
doubtedly were underpaid. The
buck private at $30 a month was un
derpaid. His was a hard job that
required skill, the absorption ot
training, courage and devotion.
General Pershing was underpaid, at
$12,000 a year for a $250,000 a year
job. The men in between, in all
grades, similarly were underpaid.
During the war common labor was
getting $6 and $7 a day. In the
shipyards, workers were making as
high as $30 a day. In the muni
tions plants unskilled workers were
getting an average of $10 a day.
Carpenters at cantonments averaged
$70 a week. The same high figures
. ...:,■.-»•;- ■
THE PULLMAN HRUAIA)
prevailed in civilian pursuitswork
that had little or no connection with
the war. Because of the absence of
the four and a halt million, the serv
ices of clerks, salesmen, auditors,
editors, insurance men, hotel clerks,
waiters, porters, chauffeurs and ex
ecutives were at a premium. They
rrmed their own price and got it.
There is no quarrel with the man
who worked. He sold his services in
tbe open market and got what the
buyer thought they were worth or
knew he had to pay. The man who
bought labor was not the loser, for
he resold it in the form of canton
ments, munitions, military supplies
and domestic products, at a ripe
Corporations that manufactured
materials not directly destined for
the military forces also did very j
nicely, thank you, during the two
years the soldier and sailor fought.
How frequently you have heard
the groan that high wages were the '
cause of high prices and that the
manufacturer and jobber could not
make a decent profit because of cost
of operation and taxes? The Even
ing World, New Fork, has pub
lished a series of highly illuminating
articles in which the excessive prof
its of big corporations are disclosed.
Remember that a great many of thesa
people are numbered among the
active opponents of compensation to
former service men and women.
These figures are interesting enough
for reproduction here:
G'ne large leather company had
gross sales in 1915, of $68,917,939.
In 1917, when production was
smaller, the value of gross sales
mounted to $91,731,648, an increase
of over 33 per cent. In 1916 the
operating expenses of this company
were 80 per cent of gross business.
In 1917, in war times, operating ex
penses were only 74 per cent. In
1914, this corporation paid a two
per cent dividend on its common
stock. In 1917 a nine per cent divi
dend was paid on the common stock.
A large corporation that manufac
tures shoes, with a 20-acre plant and
55 acres of floor space, turns out
150,000 pairs of shoes daily. In
1915, it showed a gross profit of 8.3
per cent; in 1916. 10.6 per cent; in
1917, 10.5 per cent; in 1919, 15.6
While we are on the subject of
shoes, consider a leather company
which in 1915 earned 4 4 cents on
each share of common stock, in 1917,
$7.41 for each share; in 1918,
$12.83 per share, and in 1919,
$15.82 per share.
Also let us consider another shoe
company. In 1915, this company
earned $10 for each share oi com
mon stock; in 19 16. *20.0b; in 1917,
$23.66; in 1918', $18.23, and in 1919.
That takes care of shoes. You
can see one reason why they cost bo
much. When it comes to collars and
shirts, you get the same answer.
One collar manufacturing company
showed 8.7 per cent net profits on
total business done in 1917. In
1918, this profit rose to 15.9 per
cent. A shirt company's rate of divi
dend in 1915 was $3; in 1919, $7.
When it comes to smoking ma
terials, consider one of the large
cigar companies which in 1917 saved
out of each dollar of business 33.69
per cent, and in 1919 37.80 per cent.
Cocoa drinkers and chocolate fiends
will he interested to know that a
concern that controls most of this
business earned $2.84 per share in
1916 and $31 in 19 19. Quite a de
By such standards, the soldier,
sailor and marine were greatly un
derpaid. When the extreme hazard
of his duties is considered, the dis
parity of emolument is even . more
These are cold-blooded arguments.
Whoever denies that the former
service man deserves extra compen
sation is a cold-blooded opponent.
There is no point in telling the cold
blooded of the dangers and discom
forts service men underwent; No
good to mention to him the extreme
unpleasantness of being shelled; the
days and nights in mud and cold and
filth; the charge on the machine gun
nest; the dreary hours on a destroyer
or sub-chaser; the hourly expecta
tion of sudden death on a transport;
the hunger and the pain and the
Perhaps the cold-blooded man will
argue that the cost of equalizing the
condition of the service man and the
man who worked and profited, or em
ployed and profited, would cost the
country "too much money." Remind
this man that the total cost of 19
months of our participation in the
war was twenty-nine billion dollars.
If the American doughboy had not
finished the war at least six months
before military experts had reason to
believe he could finish it, the extra
six months would have cost a third
as much, or about nine billion dol
lars. The estimated cost of compen
sation does not come to a three bil
Having recently purchased some raw land in Canada
and desiring to improve same and stock it with cattle,
I have decided to sell all but one (reserved to live in)
of the following properties which I own:
1. New house just completed, hot air heat, hard wood floors, built in fea
tures and living room, dining room, two bedrooms finished in aluminum gray,
with kitchen, breakfast room and bath in white enamel. This property has
83 feet frontage, with a street on two sides and alley in rear. Price $4200.00
with terms if desired.
2. My home on North Monroe Street which is modern in every respect in
cluding hot air heat, fireplace, sleeping porch, etc. Plenty of shade and shrub
bery. Two lots aggregating 91 feet wide and 115 feet long with a street on
two sides. Price $4500.00; terms.
3. A two-flat apartment at No. 1214 Maiden Lane, which is being remodeled
and will soon be completed. Four rooms besides sleeping porch, bath room
and breakfast room in each flat. The lower flat is rented for a year and pur
chaser could live in upper flat and rent lower one or could easily rent both.
This property rents for $50.00 per omnth and would net 15% interest as an
investment. Price $3500.00, with terms.
4. Six-room modern house, one block south of campus on Columbia Avenue.
Hot water heat, fireplace and built in features. This is rented until next
June at $35.00 per month and should net 13% interest as an investment in the
meantime, should you want possession next June. Price $2700.00, with terms.
5. Five-room house on Morton Street, across from Reaney Park. Only
partly modern and is not in good repair. Is close to town and college. Has
plenty of shade and could be made into a desirable home by making necessary
repairs. Price $1000, on terms.
F.E. SANGER, Pullman
lion dollar total. If tne war had
lasted, the extra billions would have
been forthcoming from some source
and the country would not have
been wrecked to raise it.
Vast sums of money were obtained
by congress after the armistice to
take ' care of war contracts. This
money was forthcoming—because it
was needed —without any hue and
cry being raised about it.
The sneering opponent of compen
sation says it amounts to "sandbag-
I ging the government." Nothing is
said about the 3,000,000 Americans
who were unmarried and went into
shipyards and munition plants and
other "necessary war work." Did
they sandbag the government when
they asked and received high wages?
This man is the person who is so
fond of telling you that the Ameri
can Legion is forsaking its high
ideals by demanding what is due.
Does he say anything about the gov
ernment clerks who banded together
to got a $20 a month bonus and who
now seek a $40 a month increase?
Next week we believe we can as
sume it is proved that the former
service man was not paid enough,
and we shall show he should get his
extra compensation now.
INSURE WITH McCLASKEY.
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NOW THAN YOU COULD SIXTY
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WE NEED THE BUSINESS. WE
' WILL TREAT YOU RIGHT.
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