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Susan Green

Eggs and Horsefeathers or:

Mr. Churchill Pulls a Fast One

(5 January 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 1, 5 January 1942, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Prime Minister Churchill never misses a chance to drag in by the hair some statement to the effect that in Britain there is no longer any double standard – one for the rich and another for the poor. The war has been a great leveler, don’t you know.

So the other day, when – for public effect – Mr. Churchill was gloating over the two eggs he was getting for breakfast at the White House, compared to the one egg a week supposedly rationed at home, he of course had to add: “Just like everyone else there.”

Just like every one else there – who isn’t in the dough. Mr. Churchill is in the moneyed class – and he looks too well fed to be limiting himself to rations. The fact is that money talks louder than ration enforcement in Mr. Churchill’s “democratic England.

On the subject of eggs, William H. Stoneman, special correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, wrote on December 18th that a “whole raft” of hotels, clubs and restaurants in London were fined for buying large quantities of eggs at high prices.

It seems that de luxe establishments – of which there are not a few – pay high prices and are not made bankrupt by an occasional government fine. They can make a big profit no matter how much they pay for their raw materials, and their first interest is to attract customers by serving good stuff.

We can safely assume that London’s East End poor do not patronize these establishments where prices are not an issue.

Under the headline London’s Black Food Market Becomes Shameful War Blight, Mr. Stoneman minces no words. “Al Capone at his worst was a Boy Scout compared to the boys who operate the Black Market in food in wartime England,” begins Mr. Stoneman’s report.

These racketeers deal in rationed foods. They specialize in fine cuts of beef, hams, poultry, eggs, oranges, onions, whiskey and cigarettes. War or no war, rations or no rations, the rich must live in the style to which they are accustomed. They can and are willing to pay – to pay enough to make it worth while for the illicit Black Market to cater to their demands.

While gentlemen in spats and monocle consume juicy steaks in their exclusive clubs, the butcher who supplies the working class housewife with meat has nothing better to offer “than a thin slice of green meat that you would ordinarily throw to your dog.”

So this is how food rationing works in democratic England: The poor get the rationing – the rich get the food.

In the expensive hotels, chicken, duck and other poultry are always available to the wealthy guests. The working class consumer gets – horse feathers.

To obtain the forbidden grub, the smaller hotels, restaurants and clubs resort to the well-known bootlegging practices of prohibition days in this country. But the larger establishments, according to Mr. Stoneman, have been doing it “in a much more businesslike and shameless way.”

The Savoy, Claridge’s, the Berkeley and Goring’s Hotel – four of the swankiest in London – were summoned for paying more for poultry than the legally fixed prices. Mr. Stoneman reported, however, that “There has been a very lengthy delay in trying this case.”

From which one might conclude that “fixing” in some fields works much better in democratic England than does price fixing.

Mr. Churchill is indeed a very diligent propagandist for British imperialism. But fancy verbiage does not stand up against the shameful realities of the capitalist double standard: One for the rich and another for the poor – one for the bosses and another for the workers – plentiful food for the rich and plentiful rations for the poor.

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