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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(6 March 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 10, 6 March 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

To say that there is a war on and that this is why there are shortages of vital commodities is really not explaining anything.

Take the scarcity of meats, for example.

Most of us visualize cargo ships going to foreign ports laden with meats for the overseas forces and for lend-lease as the reason for the wide-open spaces in the butcher’s icebox.

But Lewis J. Clark, president of the United Packinghouse Workers of America, CIO, has another story to tell about the critical meat situation.

“Hundreds of thousands of livestock are cluttering the stockyards of the nation, with slaughtering and packing facilities lying idle because the industry’s low wage policy and bad working conditions drive people to other jobs,” says Mr. Clark.

This is something every housewife should know.

Furthermore, packinghouse workers are putting in seventy, eighty and ninety hours a week – in some cases even as many as 120 hours. The strain on the workers is terrific, and all because the low wage policy of the rich companies drives skilled men into other industries where wages and hours may be better.

At the present times the packinghouse workers are demanding a modest ten-cent-per-hour wage increase, but Armour & Co. and the other meat packers are fighting this reasonable demand tooth and nail.

“The meat packers claim,” says Mr. Clark, that they can’t raise wages unless they are allowed to raise prices to the consumer. This claim is false. THE MEAT PACKERS ARE MAKING TRIPLE THE PROFITS THEY MADE BEFORE THE WAR, AND THEY WEREN’T EXACTLY STARVING THEN. They can pay decent wages without gouging the consumer any further.

This is something to know when you regard the clean stretches of white enamel in the butcher shop – unbroken by sight or sign of red meat:

With war profits triple the ample profits of pre-war days, the profiteers would rather deepen the meat crisis than cough up a paltry raise so their workers can hold their own against prices that have risen by 43.5 per cent since 1941.


And while on the subject of war profits, here’s another tidbit worth stopping over:

All winter woolens have been as dear as diamonds. Most of us have been compromising on all sorts of shoddy substitutes that have neither the warmth nor the durability of woolens. But do have the same prices that formerly bought woolens.

Now if we trace this situation back to the manufacturers, it means of course that they are selling less woolen goods to the civilian population, which can’t afford the prices.

The American Woolen Co., one of the giant concerns of the industry, as a matter of fact reports that its sales in the year 1943 actually fell $7,676,325 below the year before.

But before weeping in sympathy with the American Woolen Co., consider this additional fact: In spite of the fall in gross sales, the net profits of the company ROSE BY SEVENTEEN PER CENT over the net profits of 1942.

So why should big business worry about high prices? Their gross sales may fall because prices are so high that you and I cannot afford to buy many necessities – but their profits still continue upward.

What irony that the dollar-a-year men of big business are in Washington supposedly to “hold the price line” for you and me!


As the war proceeds all talk of equality of sacrifice becomes more and more nauseating because of its blatant hypocrisy.

To workers whose wages have been frozen at the 1941 level while prices have gone up 43.5 per cent, the ten per cent cut out of wages to buy war bonds really means a sacrifice that hurts.

To the capitalist class whose war profits accrued at the rate of $8,600,000,000 for 1943 and will be over $10,000,000,000 for 1944, buying war bonds is not only a lucrative investment – because their wealth permits them to buy the bonds in great bulk – but is also a source of ribald pleasure.

It sticks like gall in the throat to read about the swanky parties where the “four hundred” make whoopie while performing their “pay-triotic” duty buying bonds.

Bejeweled on every part of the anatomy available for the purpose – including the ankles in some cases – and bedecked in gowns perhaps coming from the salons of Nazi-occupied Paris, Park Avenue dowagers playfully bid up their bond purchases by the tens of thousands in competition with each other for such a prize as maybe a live pig. The males of the species amuse themselves bidding, in bonds for maybe a bottle of rare scotch or perhaps a pedigreed dog.

All this “sacrificing” goes on in the gleeful surroundings of a hot night club or private party. You can be sure that not one of the female “sacrificers” has to give up a single diamond tiara, bracelet or anklet – because of war bond purchases. Nor does any of the male “sacrificers” have to give up even as little as his private cigar humidor rented at Dunhill’s to keep his favorite “weeds” at just the right moisture.


The other day Mrs. Roosevelt quoted in her column, My Day, a letter she received from a friend.

“It seems, to have been necessary for both of my sons to give their lives in this war,” wrote the friend. “I am willing, and able, to take it if their deaths and those thousands of others who are dying far away from home can be justified by a better and more equalized world when the war is over. If we get anything like the ‘status quo’ or ‘back to normalcy,’ it can be nothing but a hideous waste.”

Mrs. Roosevelt, of course, agrees that we must have “a better and more equalized world.” In fact, the First Lady is full of good intentions, which she voices at every possible opportunity. Lately at a meeting of two thousand women in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, she said: “Either we are going to have a brotherhood of man or we are going to have war.”

Fine words, but only words – and here is the proof:

There is before Congress the May bill under which boys of seventeen years would be required IN PEACETIME to go into either military or naval training for at least one year. Representative May is a realistic capitalist politician who knows that capitalism will bring future wars and so goes ahead to prepare for them by militarizing the youth of the land.

But how about the idealistic First Lady who talks about “a responsibility toward the boys who have died” and who spouts about the “brotherhood of man”?

Mrs. Roosevelt also thinks the military regimentation – IN THE POST-WAR PERIOD – of boys of seventeen “quite all right if they don’t go overseas before eighteen.” She even goes further and wants girls included!

This is how the First Lady stands on the subject of peacetime military training for the youth of the country. The lady of oh so many good intentions approves the vile system of compulsory all-time military training for boys and girls because she thinks in terms of future wars. Otherwise she could not have said “if they don’t go overseas before eighteen.” For going “overseas” means going to war.

For the purposes of oratory, Mrs. Roosevelt is all for the “brotherhood of man.” When it comes to practical measures, she goes along with the other supporters of the capitalist system who are preparing for World War III.

On this planet there is not room for both the capitalist system and the brotherhood of man. Labor Action wants to push off the profit system to make room for the socialist brotherhood of man.

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