Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Susan Green

The Better Half

(15 July 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 14, 15 July 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Mrs. Charles Shipman Payson is going to take into her home three children from war-threatened England. You don’t know who she is? That is because when Mr. and Mrs. Payson celebrate their wedding anniversary each year, you and I are not invited. But some five hundred members of high society are. The frolic lasts until dawn. Imagine what such a swanky party costs and you will know immediately that these Paysons are not on relief.

I also read that Mrs. Payson is the owner of one of Long Island’s famous stables. It is not unusual for a stable of the first rank to cost $1,000 a day upkeep, which is more than millions of American families get to live on for a whole year.

We can safely conclude that these refugee children will not be a financial burden on Mrs. Payson. Nevertheless her “noble” conduct has received a good deal of publicity.

These society women who are taking refugee children belong to the class that thrives on WAR.

I have been scanning the news items about refugee children to discover whose children are being brought here. I see that at Tuxedo Park, New York, a wealthy country resort, “children and their nurses” will be cared for until they can be taken into homes elsewhere. Poor children do not have nurses. The wealthy people here are interested in the refugee children of their own class. The American Association of University Women has agreed to find homes for 3,000 to 6,000 children of British university graduates. Here we see middle class people looking out for the children of their own class.

At the most, only some thousands of children can be taken out of England. The millions of children of the workers will undoubtedly have to remain within range of Hitler’s dive bombers.

If the mothers of these children leave their protection in the hands of the British boss government, they will be dead wrong, The French government was more afraid of the French workers rising to get their freedom than it was of Hitler. That is why the French defense was so weak. The British rulers – and the American too – are no different.

While $1,000 a day for the upkeep of stables is normal for high society, nearly four million people in New York City, the largest city in the richest country in the world, are so poor that they are entitled to free care in city hospitals. Yes, there are so many single people whose income is less than $17 a week and so many families whose income is less than $28 that it sums up to more than half of the population of the city. That is what Dr. S.S. Goldwater, Commissioner of Hospitals, said and he ought to know.

But these people don’t get what they are entitled to. The demands of women in childbirth, of sick children, for hospital care cannot be satisfied. There aren’t enough hospitals – there is bad overcrowding – and this situation is getting worse.

New York City is the home of Wall Street where the wealth of the nation is centered. It should be easy to raise money to build hospitals for half of the city’s population. But no. Dr. Goldwater bluntly stated that “the city has reached the limit of spending for new hospitals”.

Instead, he spoke of a scheme to make these people, who the City admits are too poor to pay for medical attention, actually pay for it themselves.

This is the set-up that the bosses have made for us:

No money for hospitals – but twelve billion dollars for howitzers, tanks, bombers, battleships – so that high society can lavish $1,000 a day on their horses.

Women of America, we are going to reverse this set-up!

In her flitterings here and yon Mrs. Roosevelt alighted the other day on the roof garden of the Educational Alliance, in New York City’s lower east side, and helped send two hundred young people off to hunt for their first jobs.

She very graciously gave these children of the slums a few tips on how to behave before the lords of the earth, the bosses. She said:

First you must remember that there is a fine line between being too aggressive and being confident of your own ability. You must never seem to feel afraid that YOU, or those whom you represent, can’t do the job. But you must also be careful not to give the impression that you know more than your employers.

Armed with this magic formula, these two hundred went out in the morning to find work. At 2:30 p.m. they returned to headquarters. Did they have two hundred jobs? No. Did they have one hundred jobs? Again no. They had exactly no jobs. Twelve had been promised, and thirty-five concerns indicated they would want people two months from now. That was all.

The first lady of the land with the fine line technique, didn’t think it necessary to tell these young people the simple truth. The youth of this country has no future under capitalism except in the huge war machine being built to kill, to be killed, or to produce the instruments for killing.

R.G., Chicago, sent to this column a very valuable communication. She wrote that no matter how ignorant and dumb the working girl may be, she knows she is being exploited. R.G. believes that what is needed to reach these girls is simple beginner pamphlets and not “ahead of the mob stuff” which they can’t understand.

Both Labor Action and the WORKERS PARTY are trying to meet this demand for simple education to create class-consciousness and an understanding of socialism. The Workers Party is issuing 1¢ pamphlets, and Labor Action is starting a department in simple fundamentals. We hope to improve with experience and the suggestions of our readers.

Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 10 July 2014