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War is a Racket

War is a Racket is an insightful book by General Smedley Butler, recipient of two Congressional Medals of Honor. His conclusion is that war is fought and paid for by the poor masses and makes money for the rich and powerful. It’s hard to argue with that.

Well, [war is] a racket, all right. A few profit—and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can’t end it by disarmament conferences. You can’t eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can’t wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.

The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation—it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted—to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.

Let the workers in these plants get the same wages—all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers—yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders—everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

If the nation is in such dire straits that it needs to go to war—to mobilize troops to foreign soil, I agree that it behooves everyone to sacrifice for the common good. I imagine we would go to war far less often if this were the law.

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