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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(6 December 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 49, 6 December 1943, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The prospect of more meat for civilians is something to look forward to.

The War Food Administration announced its suspension of quota limitations on the slaughter of livestock because there is now a record surplus of 17,000,000 head of cattle.

In fact, the OPA expects such a huge supply of meat in the near future that it contemplates reducing ration points on meats to induce the consumer to buy plenty. That will be fine, but – Why wasn’t the meat released right along instead of allowing such a surplus to accumulate? It looks now as if the meat famine was an unnecessary hardship!

The pendulum of food supplies for the people is allowed to swing from the extreme of dire shortages to the other extreme of oversupply. “All or nothing at all” is all right for the theme of a song, but hardly a sound policy for the distribution of the people’s food. And behind all the bungling and unnecessary hardship can be found the motive of private profit for the big food interests.

Labor Action has been pushing the idea that the food situation must be handled by committees of organized labor, housewives and working farmers. One thing becomes more and more certain: No one could do worse from the angle of working class needs than the big farm interests and the politicians are doing.


And what about the quality of the meat to be released?

Recent meat supplies have been decidedly inferior – so poor in fact that many retail butchers have refused to handle some of it.

One dealer in the Washington Market in New York City said he could not sell it to his customers and keep their trade. “The only thing that kind of beef is good for is for chewing gum,” he told a reporter.

Inferior meat comes from poorly fed cattle. Now here is a riddle to be answered. The government has just paid a subsidy of $450,000,000 to cattle growers because the cost of feed for cattle has gone up. So what have the cattle growers been doing with that $450,000,000 that should have gone for good feed to make good cattle to yield good meat?

Did the big cattle growers pocket the subsidy as gravy – and proceed to buy cheap feed for their cattle on the assumption that in this market anything can be sold?

Could be, could be!

Such ethics on the part of big business cattle growers would be right in line with the war practices of big business in general. It not only wraps its fists around all the so-called “legitimate” war profits it can but around every illegitimate billion that comes its way – witness the sale of defective war material which means shipping unexpected death to the boys at the front.

That’s capitalist morality.


While the dispute over miners’ wages was in progress, the Bituminous Coal Institute, the organization of mine bosses, staged at the Hotel Plaza in New York a fashion show unique in fashion history.

There were put on display by these exploiters of the bituminous miners the styles in clothes “that the daughters and wives of miners desire to wear and do wear.” Besides tailored clothes, the show included party and evening dresses, fur coats and jackets – naturally not of mink or ermine.

The hot-air merchants speaking for the coal barons at the show failed to give statistics on how many daughters and wives of miners actually do wear the garments on display – which certainly are nothing extraordinary in this day and age – and how many get no closer to these simple things than permitted by the thick plate-glass windows of the stores owned by the mine companies.

Neither did any of the speechmakers bother to state that a large portion of the retail business in the mining areas – as well as everything else – is owned and conducted by the mine companies. With such a monopoly of trade, they charge whatever they want to – thus very effectively keeping down the number of miners’ daughters and wives who can afford to buy their desirable merchandise.

Why do you suppose this deceptive show was put on by the mine companies? Simple, my dear Watson – to “prove” that the miners, whose daughters and wives roll in fur coats and jackets, do not need a wage increase. Presumably the miners were striking for the hell of it.


A different kind of fashion show was put on unofficially the other night. The “golden horseshoe” at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York blazed forth in all its splendor for the opening of the opera season.

Fabulous jewels” were worn by many of the notable ladies. One matron dazzled the crowd “with her array of diamond bracelets from wrist to elbow.” (What, not all the way up to her shoulder?) This jane also sported, emerald earrings and a diamond and emerald necklace.

“It was somewhat of a toss-up whether mink or ermine appeared the most often.” The gowns were of satin, lamé, chiffon, net, lace – and did not come from the company stores in the mine districts.

This finery came from the swanky Mainbocher where anybody can get an evening flimsy for from $300 to $600, or from Valentina’s, where prices run on the same level. The “less expensive” among them might have been made up exclusively by Sophie at Saks-Fifth Avenue.

While these dames did not wear their street clothes on this occasion, it must be stated here – to complete the picture – that they are the social set that thinks nothing of spending $400 for a suit and $150 for a little sweater to go with the suit.

Yes, you heard me. And if any of my readers do not believe this, let them try to pick up a little “bargain” at Mainbocher, Valentina or Cartier’s.

The “golden horseshoe” at the Metropolitan symbolizes the class that fights tooth and nail against every demand of the workers for a decent wage. Yet labor produces all the wealth the rich wallow in as unashamedly in wartime as in peacetime. There will come a time when labor will refuse to support a class of useless parasites in the manner to which it is accustomed – or indeed in any manner at all.

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