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Grace Carlson

Press Weeps over “Hungry” Heiress;
Suppresses News of Ill-Fed Workers

(28 April 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 17, 28 April 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the Society Today column of the April 14 N.Y. World-Telegram, this sad, sad story appeared.

“Nancy Oakes de Marigny, daughter of Lady Oakes and the late Sir Harry Oakes and heiress to a share of one of the greatest gold mine fortunes in the world, is thinking seriously of writing a book entitled Heiresses Get Just as Hungry as Home Folks ...

“Having miscalculated the date on which her allowance from the estate was to arrive, Nancy found that her immediate fortune consisted of $1.40 in American currency and one Canadian dime ...

“For the next few days the young lady who will one day come into millions nibbled on sandwiches and quaffed soup at the Automat, carefully avoiding all of her friends.

Poor Rich Girl

“Nancy comes of age next month, but it won’t alter the financial situation. Neither she nor her brothers and sisters come into a penny of their inheritance until they reach the age of 30. ‘I guess Daddy wanted to be sure we would have sense enough to handle our money wisely when we came into it,’ sighs the poor, little rich girl. Meanwhile, she lives on a comparatively small allowance from the estate.”

Whenever a young cub reporter brings back a story to his editor telling of a dog biting a man, the editor tears the story up and advises the writer that it isn’t news unless “a man bites a dog.” The Story of the Hungry Heiress illustrates the same thing.

If a reporter on a capitalist paper were to bring in a story, telling of an undernourished miner’s child, whose limbs were twisted by rickets or of an ill-fed Negro share-cropper suffering from pellagra, his editor would throw him out of the office. It isn’t news when poor people are hungry ! But there are so very, very few “hungry heiresses” that even if one of them is hungry only a couple of days, you can make a feature story out of it – and get it published.

It isn’t even news to the capitalist press when poor people starve to death in the United States! There were no stories written about the 2,373 American citizens who died from dietary deficiency diseases in 1940. These deaths from pellagra, beriberi, scurvy and rickets could have been prevented if a way had been found to supply the patients with enough fresh meat, milk, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables. But the richest country in the world couldn’t find the way.

Hunger and Death

And this is only a part of the tragic picture of Hunger and Death! In commenting on the figures, listing deaths from starvation, the doctors on the National Research Council’s committee on Nutrition say:

“It is thus probable that deaths actually due to malnutrition are many times greater than the mortality statistics indicate ... It would be interesting to know how much malnutrition is concealed in the 370,600 deaths recorded in 1938 under the heading, ‘diseases of the circulatory’ system ... or among the 2,569 listed as due to ‘alcoholism’ ... (Bulletin of National Research Council, Nov. 1943)

For every actual death from malnutrition, there are thousands who are seriously ill from diet deficiency diseases and millions who have mild or moderate vitamin deficiencies. A survey made in 1942 of the diets of the relatively well-paid workers in the Lockheed Aircraft Plant in Burbank, California showed that 87 per cent had diets which were unsatisfactory. Surveys of the diets of Southern sharecroppers and of North Carolina textile workers and their families showed a 100 per cent unsatisfactory record.

Here is the daily allowance of food which the National Research Council recommends:

  • 1 pint of milk at least, preferably 1 quart
  • 2 servings of potatoes
  • 2 servings of fruit, one of which should be oranges or grapefruit
  • 2 vegetables, one of which should be leafy green or yellow
  • 1 serving of meat, fish or poultry
  • 1 whole-grain cereal dish
  • Butter or vitamin-fortified margarine
  • Whole-grain or enriched white bread at every meal

How many working-class housewives can afford to buy enough of this vitamin-rich food for their families every day?

Despite the opinion of the World-Telegram’s Society Editor, Heiresses Don’t Get Nearly as Hungry as THE HOME FOLKS!

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Last updated: 31 October 2018