How To Succeed In Bilking, Etc.

How To Succeed In Bilking, Etc.

THE GENTLEMEN CONSPIRATORS, by John G. Fuller. Grove Press, Inc.

In one of his lively discourses on contemporary socioeconomic trends, Professor James Riddle Hoffa, summa cum laude, of the Graduate School of Hard Knocks, declared in 1961 that, “the zillion dollar corporations are taking over in this country. Poor son of a bitch steals a loaf of bread, gets two years in jail working on the sand pile; you steal a couple of hundred millions like those characters in the electrical industry, and you get thirty days. And they never would have gone to jail at all except the judge was vindictive and wanted to pretend everybody got treated alike.”

The story of the price fixers in the electrical industry written by John G. Fuller puts things in better focus than the remarks of Hoffa. In fact, this succinct summary of the scandal in the electrical industry proves that Hoffa was wrong.

The responsible heads of Westinghouse and General Electric were never found guilty: They were never indicted. The amount of money involved was much larger then Hoffa said: rigging prices on $7 billions of sales. The Judge was not vindictive: seven lesser executives were fined and did spend less than 30 days in jail, but this was surely a kindly act. After all, the Attorney General of the United States, Robert Kennedy, had said that “I regard the price fixing of the electrical industry as a major threat to democracy.” Suppose these subversive elements operating in the electrical industry had been indicted under the Smith Act. How long would they have stayed in jail? After all, the electrical industry executives were guilty of overt acts.