B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

B.J. Widick

Food Profiteering Is Hint
of Days to Come

Prices Rising Everywhere in America
Despite the Fact That Warehouses Are Full

(18 September 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 71, 18 September 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

An ominous hint of days to come in America was furnished in the past few weeks by the food profiteering racket which swept the country.

In many cities sugar could not be purchased or else it was available in such small quantities that they were negligible.

“I’m sorry but we’re out of sugar,” was the grocer’s reply to a housewife’s demand for a pound. And if she did succeed in getting a pound, the price was increased plenty.

Same Everywhere

One big industrial center was “out of sugar” for two days. In another city we visited, the restaurants only a few days ago served you two lumps of sugar. None was available at the tables.

It seemed fantastic to have housewives tell us that they couldn’t buy flour at some of the big stores!

This same thing happened everywhere in America. All food prices rose. And they still are going up, despite the fine talk of threats against the profiteers.

Warehouses Full

Yet there isn’t any shortage of sugar, or flour or other food.

The warehouses are full. The government is still paying farmers millions of dollars to destroy crops or to fail to produce them.

The rise in prices was a deliberate, cheap, chiseling move sponsored mainly by large companies to take advantage of the wave of worry that followed the declaration of war in Europe.

Scandals surrounding the rise in food prices were so smelly that wide-spread protests quickly arose. And Mr. Frank Murphy, attorney general of the U.S.A., took a few minutes time out from trying to frame the Minneapolis workers to issue a blast against food profiteering.

Of course, he’s too busy trying to break the spirit of the Minneapolis workers to go after the war profiteers.

The labor movement responded immediately to the new pressure against its already poor living standards. The United Textile Workers, the Akron C.I.O. council, and numerous other labor bodies are demanding a federal investigation of food prices.

Living Standards Lowered

In the brief space of two weeks the living standards of the American people were reduced between 10 to 20 per cent because of the rise in prices.

The WPA workers took another cut because the groceries bills are getting higher for the same amount of food they must purchase ... and it was tough going before.

The squeeze play is on. War preparations mean the continued subjugation of the union movement. No strikes for higher wages, if the bosses have their way. And at the same time, the rising prices cut down the amount the workers can buy.

The first act in the tragedy of war has begun. The food profiteering was a sort of “dress rehearsal.”

B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 6 March 2016