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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(2 August 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 31, 2 August 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Whether the working people eat or starve for the remainder of the war – which even how looks like a long one – depends on the militant action of workers, housewives and working farmers. Every word of this statement is supported by the increasing, shortages of nearly all foods while the black markets expand and get more and more of the limited supplies.

The following gives a rough idea of how fast shortages are growing. The government announces that beginning July 1, there will be twenty per cent less canned vegetables for civilians than last year and forty per cent less canned fruit than before the war. Also, for the next twelve months – who knows what will happen after that? – there will be twenty per cent less butter, forty-five per cent less cheese and fifty-seven per cent less processed milk. Besides, a shortage of eggs is rapidly developing and a shortage of fish is on the agenda.

These drastic cuts in food supplies are in themselves alarming. But the situation is even more ominous because what food there is, is not made available to all alike. The black markets more and more monopolize the supply. Thus a black market is blooming out in the fish business. Even the savory onion is going to the unsavory black market. WE MUST FACE THE FACT THAT ONLY THE WELL-TO-DO CAN AFFORD TO PAY BLACK MARKET PRICES.

Most significant of all is that the black market is, in a way, receiving official recognition from the government. For in the latest Federal and State Market News Service, a publication of a branch of the Department of Agriculture, the poultry market is stated as extremely firm at “PREVAILING BLACK MARKET PRICES.”

When the government is quoting prices according to black market dictation, it is high time for the working people to start pulling themselves out of the deepening food crisis BY THEIR OWN INDEPENDENT ACTION.

Where Is The Meat?

Maybe you don’t know it, but we housewives are supposed to be able to buy meat at ceiling prices less the rollback for which the President was allowed subsidies by Congress. However, beef is still not only not available at ceiling roll-back prices – it just isn’t available.

Yet the cold fact is that the cattle-growers of the country are being paid a subsidy for the specific purpose of making beef purchasable by you and me at those much-publicized ceiling roll-back prices. In hard cash the government pays around $1.00 for every hundred pounds of beef on the hoof – amounting to from $8 to $11 per head of cattle slaughtered. So where are the ceiling roll-back prices? And where – oh, where – is the meat?

Could it be that the government subsidizes the cattle raisers – while they continue to send their cattle to the black market?

Grading on the Way Out

The resignation of Lou R. Maxon, big-shot advertising executive, from his post on the OPA, does not mean that his vigorous campaign against grade labeling has resigned with him. For behold, OPA now issues an order that the grade labeling of women’s rayon hosiery is no longer required. So watch your step in buying rayon hosiery.

More serious, however, is the end of government meat grading, now looming big on the horizon. For Price Administrator Brown is interpreting a certain rider to a certain bill to mean that meat grading is no longer required by law. The housewife will have even less than now to guide her in buying meat – provided it is there to buy – AND TOP PRICES WILL BE CHARGED EVEN FOR THE GRADE D CUT OF MEAT.

In his letter of resignation, Mr. Maxon explained his opposition to grade labeling of merchandise. It is the opposition of the advertising executive looking out for his profits. For if the government should honestly grade merchandise as to actual quality, there would be no point in trying to bamboozle consumers into believing that Swift’s meat comes from redder-blooded cattle than another firm’s or that Gold Stripe hosiery wears longer than “silver stripe.”

There would rapidly follow the demise of the bright ladies in magazine and newspaper ads, who keep their husbands’ affection by stuffing them with Kellogg’s Crispies rather than some other brand – and the air waves would be cleared of the silly commercials constantly offending our intelligence.

In a word, grade labeling and the billion dollar advertising business are not on speaking terms. Mr. Maxon and hundreds like him are in the seats of government to look out for their businesses – not for you and me.

Mr. Maxon and his ilk take very good care of their private interests. How much longer will we allow his kind to pretend they are looking after ours?

Mothers and Socialism

Ernest Brown, Minister of Health in England, told the House of Commons recently that he is concerned about the decline in population. Did this politician for British imperialism, disguised as a labor leader, expect a war like this to be fought without a decline in population?

Another member of the House made the brilliant, observation that there are more old people around. But naturally, since the young ones are on the battlefields.

Someone else contributed the information that there are fewer children under fourteen years of age. Perhaps, after the first crop of war babies, women are indulging in second thoughts.

Another spokesman summed up the situation thus: Woman “has refused to produce the most valuable commodity in the world, THE EMBRYO WORKER.”

Perhaps the last speaker in these quoted words unconsciously gave the real reason why women are not too anxious to bring children into this crazy world. Perhaps they are a bit tired of going through the agonies of giving birth – merely to supply the commodity labor power out of which the bosses make their profits, and the commodity soldier power with which ruling classes have for centuries settled their international conflicts over power and pelf.

Maybe women would like to bring forth just human beings, into a sane social system that would allow people to work like human beings, producing their human needs, at peace with all the world.

Working women, these ideals for a better life can become reality under socialism – and only under socialism.

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