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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(31 January 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 5, 31 January 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A woman writes to the editor of the New York Sun as follows:

“Listening to the radio, I heard, purporting to come from Madame Perkins, that the cost of living had risen only three per cent. I never got beyond the simple rudiments of arithmetic, so cannot determine how this figure was arrived at. One thing I do know: whereas I could buy six lamb chops cut thinly for forty cents, now two thin chops cost forty cents. Take eggs at sixty cents a dozen against thirty-five cents; three pounds of onions formerly cost ten cents, but one pound now costs nine cents. I cannot get Secretary Perkins’ three per cent rise in food costs to fit into this pattern.”

Neither can any other woman concerned with feeding, clothing and sheltering a family.

Jackpot question: How can a government that doesn’t even state the price situation honestly, solve that problem to the satisfaction of working people?

Labor Action has been calling for the formation of committees of organized labor, organized housewives and organized working farmers to tackle on their own the food food problem. At least, such committees would start with the real facts about high prices – AND THEY WOULD LOOK AT THE QUESTION WITH THE SOBER EYES OF PEOPLE LIKE THIS WOMAN WHO WRITES TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK SUN.


And here is another reason why Labor Action continues its campaign for the organization of people’s committees to solve people’s problems.

A few days ago Mayor LaGuardia bawled out Chester Bowles, head of the OPA, for not keeping his promises to protect consumers and for not keeping the skirts of the OPA clean of “political influences.”

But what else could be expected from Mr. Bowles except that he should break promises to the consumers and dabble in politics?

Mr. Bowles is a top-shelf advertising executive, boss of the Benton & Bowles advertising agency. Catering to big business and pulling political strings are in the very life-blood of men with his background.

Furthermore, Mr. Bowles has given jobs in OPA to many of his former associates in the firm of Benton & Bowles, who brought with them into OPA the same qualities and methods that made them valuable as employees of a business serving big business.

As boss of OPA, Mr. Bowles’ accomplishments are mainly those of catering to big business – just as he did as boss of Benton & Bowles. Thus even the Wall Street Journal is obliged to admit: “The OPA is permitting dozens of higher prices, but rolls back few.”

In this way big business permeates and dominates all government departments, supposedly concerned with the problems of the working people – and that is why these problems are “solved” by big business getting more profits.


Under pressure of dire necessity, Congress enacted a bill providing a minimum of financial help in defraying the expenses of childbirth to the wives of men in the armed forces. Naturally, the pay of the soldier is not munificent enough to cover the unusual expense involved in childbirth.

Many sad cases of neglect brought a clamor for government help. Finally, provision was made for a physician’s fee of fifty dollars and for hospital confinement of sixty dollars.

You may think now things are not so bad for the expectant mothers of soldiers’ children. But if you do, you figure without the many ramifications of that atrocious institution known as “free enterprise.”

One of the staunchest upholders of this system of freedom for the few at the expense of the many is the American Medical Association. With all its state and county branches, AMA is the big business organization in medicine in this country. Just as the National Association of Manufacturers protects the profits for big industrialists, so the AMA protects big fees for the big shots in medicine.

These big shots look down their noses at fifty dollars as a fee for a delivery. They much prefer fees running into the hundreds. So they set up a shout that Congress was “socializing medicine.” They went ahead and sabotaged the plan to help soldiers’ wives. They as good as instructed their members to be “TOO BUSY” to take the cases of soldiers’ wives. These champions of “free enterprise” threatened individual physicians with loss of all hospital connections if they did not obey orders. At this writing this shameful spectacle still goes on.

This is one of the things about the system of private profit that makes words poor instruments for expressing one’s feelings. The only outlet is to grit one’s teeth in determination to work like sixty to make the working people see the need for socialism as the means to end private profit in all its hideous forms.


The wives of soldiers and workers have plenty of heartaches bringing their children into the world and keeping them here – and you can’t any longer say: “It shouldn’t happen to a dog.” For the life of a dog of the social set, at any rate, is something to be envied.

There is, for example, the Dog Bath Club in the swanky Fifties off Park Avenue in New York. There a pedigreed dog or unpedigreed mutt whose. owner has the do-re-mi can get sprayed with coconut oil, shampooed, dried and curled by electric dryers. A modern barber shop has been installed for the little dears, with electric clippers for manicuring their tootsies.

These precious pets have their teeth examined and scaled, and their pyorrhea treated – AS MANY MILLION CHILDREN OF WORKING CLASS FAMILIES SHOULD HAVE DONE AND CANNOT. A veterinarian is in charge. To climax this canine paradise, there is a private swimming pool where their royal highness can frolic about.

We have no grudge against dogs – not even against the dogs of the rich. But we oppose such injustice in the distribution of the wealth of the wealth of the nation that the dogs of the rich are better off than the children of the workers who produce that wealth.


Over the radio the other night, Dorothy Thompson, radio commentator and newspaper columnist, declared herself to be an optimist about the post-war period. She thinks that the rate of war production can, continue into peacetime, that everybody can have jobs, good wages and more of the good things of life.

It’s nice to be cheerful – provided there is a foundation for it. However, when Miss Thompson began to substantiate her cheerfulness, an intelligence was being insulted.

For instance, Miss Thompson came out with whole-hearted praise of Beardsley Ruml’s plan for a “new America in each generation.” What is this new idea of the genius who devised the pay-as-you-go tax plan? Mr Ruml is in favor of tearing down all factories, buildings, schools, roads, bridges, etc., every twenty to thirty years. And why engage in this orgy of destruction? To be able to rebuild it all – to be able to use up material, employ labor, pay wages, etc.

Such fantastic ideas only indicate the inability of the capitalists to give a really sensible answer to the problem of post-war production and employment – so important to every man, woman and child. Especially is this apparent when – as Miss Thompson herself pointed out – even this crazy scheme of creating work by tearing down and rebuilding everything, would employ only 6,000,000 men and cost only $10,000,000,000. This is only onetenth of the manpower employed today and about one fourteenth of national war income.

The only basis for cheerfulness for the future is the revolutionary reorganization of society to produce for the needs of human beings and no longer for the acquisition of profits for the few.

However, we haven’t heard that Miss Thompson is in favor of the working class solving its problems this way.

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