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The workers of the W.P.A., bursting into the headlines with a series of fuming strikes, have brought cracking down on their skulls a number of private investigations. The principal discovery of such men as Allen Raymond of the New York Herald Tribune is the fact that a group of communistic agitators, sponging on the government payroll, are using Uncle Sam's capitalistic cash to whip together a "red" machine. Yet however true these charges may be they fail to consider that the "reds" are striking not for a bloody revolution, but rather for a fair deal from their American administrators. The strikes should focus attention on the misrule of the officials as well as the vices of the workers up in arms.
What maddens relief-men more than abstract ideas about capitalism and the class war is the ever-present specter of the official axe. Life on the dole is no career of social security at best. But when funds are bounced around from project to project with the hit-and-miss efficiency of startled rabbits, and workers are fired in Manhattan and hired in Brooklyn at the same moment, those whose life blood depends on federal cash rise up in righteous anger at their treatment.
Aside from the C.C.C. the relief work of the administration has been wretchedly handled. Projects started in haste have been dropped like burning coals. Money has poured into valueless jobs like water over a dam. The Florida canal has been openly repudiated in Congress, leaving the laborers to wonder where their next few dollars are coming from. Cash must be spent on a certain day or not at all. Robert Moses must tear down the Casino by June thirtieth, or leave it forever a blight on the landscape of Central Park.
The situation clearly calls on the administration to clean up the labyrinthine mess, which not only tosses away the taxpayers' money, but fills the workers with a natural resentment and a feeling of the futility in their tasks. Since private industry shows no sings of absorbing the government jobholders, a permanent organization must sooner or later be put into shape. If planned on a long term basis, the W.P.A. could justify its existence on an economic as well as charitarian point of view, though it should of course be flexible enough to hire and discharge its employees as business conditions vary. In any event the workers' agitation serves a useful function in calling attention to the whole relief problem, and cannot be smoked out with a fusillade of "anti-red" propaganda.
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