To the editor:
Like most Americans, I am watching the fruits of speculation and greed as they have played havoc with our economy. We who lived in the 1930s are reminded of the Great Depression resulting from the stock market crash. We had a cousin who committed suicide over her losses. However, I would like to report on a bright side of those years.
My family lived in Sherrill, N.Y., where was located the manufacturing plant of the Oneida Community Ltd., makers of fine silverware. The Oneida community was a nondenominational Christian society who were very creative.
During the Depression, when their business fell to one-firth of normal, instead of laying off four-fifths of their employees, as many did, they retained most of them by dividing the work. On the production lines, rather than one worker earning $25 and others nothing, each worked his machine one day a week, thus earning $5. With eggs for 2 or 3 cents a dozen, this income, plus a garden and other resources, permitted them to make it through the Depression years.
The executives, of whom my father was one, took deep cuts in their salaries. As a result the company came through the Depression with a loyal, experienced corps of workers and took over the leadership of the silverware industry.
Would not our nation be better off if industry followed that pattern today?