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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(2 March 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No.9, 2 March 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A reading of John Gunther’s Inside Latin America leaves the decided impression that our southern neighbors are suffering from extreme nausea induced by too much sugar in the economy. In a word, there is lots of sugar in the places where this country buys it. Corroboration came this week from U.S. Representative Celler of New York. He said there is “plenty” of sugar in the Caribbean islands, and that Congress could increase the import quotas if there was a shortage.

“But there isn’t,” declared Mr. Celler. So there is no shortage in this country, and if there were, more can be gotten in a jiffy. Why, then, the rationing of sugar? Another instance of official bungling. The ONLY answer indeed.

Washington has been literally moving heaven and earth in its effort to get the people “to make sacrifices.” Mrs. Roosevelt, as OCD official, has been talking about nothing else. Aided and abetted by Secretary of Agriculture Wickard, she warned housewives that they may have to “sacrifice” by “sharing their sugar with America’s allies.” The First Lady was merely talking for effect.

But the housewife responded in the natural way – she started to buy up a supply of sugar to help her out when need came. The stores of course could not stand this sudden abnormal demand. But this did not mean there is a shortage of sugar any more than a sudden run on a solvent bank means the bank is insolvent. In the confusion that ensued, sugar rationing emerged.

Those responsible for the bungling figured that people might just as well get used to rationing as one of the hardships of war.

However, normal people are not eager for hardships and certainly resent taking on altogether unnecessary ones. Sugar rationing definitely falls into the latter category.

A fireworks display of political hypocrisy was staged by Congress in connection with the appointment of Mrs. Roosevelt’s pet dancer to a $4,600 a year job on civilian defense.

It is not intended here to go into the question of whether or not dancing is necessary to civilian defense – though it seems offhand to be stretching a point in favor of th First Lady.

Just remember two, things about this whole matter: The Worthy congressmen were getting excited about (1) the waste of money, and (2) the favoritism – undoubtedly here practiced by Mrs. Roosevelt.

But if it’s saving money Congress is after, why bother with the picayune sum of $4,600. There are big, fat, juicy pickings elsewhere – for instance, in the field of war profits. To salvage waste LABOR ACTION would suggest the abolition of war profits running into many billions of dollars – acquired through the still-functioning, system of favoritism known as the “dollar-a-year men.”

And if it’s more favoritism the worthy congressmen are trying to expose, the people would like them to go the whole hog. For instance, what about the favoritism practiced by congressmen!

The Senate Naval Affairs Committee, in a special document has reported that congressmen repeatedly help persons “within the draft or military age” to obtain commissions in the Navy “to evade actual combat service.” It is further stated that the favoritism used in getting jobs in the naval intelligence service “has become almost a scandal.”

Working men and women would certainly like to know more about the “democratic way” in which the draft law appears to be administered. There seems to be some magic formula for evading the draft that congressmen know all about.

It comes to light, from a report in the Amsterdam New York Star News, that Negro women working at the Pictinny, N.J,, arsenal are subjected to conditions of almost criminal negligence.

About 3,400 Negro women, between 18 and 45 years old, are working there in three 10-hour shifts, seven days a week. Many of these women – weary and worn from ten hours of toil – are left stranded after midnight without any means of transportation to their homes. They have to resort to begging lifts at that hour of the night – and often pay the price of being shamefully, insulted.

The reporters of the Amsterdam New York Star-News state that Capt. Roger Barton, public relations official of the arsenal, promised “the matter would be probed by the Ordnance Department.”

This is the sort of “promise” given to get rid of investigating reporters. The health and dignity of 3,400 hard-working women cannot be allowed to remain at the mercy of official indifference. A strong demand for improvement is in order. The demand must be for adequate bus transportation for all workers. And the workers themselves must make this demand.

“No Peace, No Babies!” This is the slogan raised by Mrs. Rena Govern, mother of one son, to rally the mothers of the world to end wars. In moving words, reported by A.M. Wendell Malliet in the January 24 Amsterdam New York Star-News, Mrs. Govern condemns war. She says:

“I think war is cruel and inhuman, and to me does not seem necessary at all. A mother of sons gives much to educate them. When they are ready to make a start in life, along comes war in all its fury to kill, main and destroy. All she has labored for – love, patience and understanding – are lost. Why try to attain anything if it mast be torn apart by gun fire? Why must we give our sons higher culture, simply to be blotted out by war? Women are tired of giving sons for war game.”

What mother does not likewise condemn and hate the cynical waste of human life and effort in war. German or British, American or Japanese, black, yellow or white – every mother protests against the massacre of her children.

But the slogan “No Peace, No Babies!” just won’t work.

If we look back over the pages of history, we can find no case where human advancement has come by race suicide. Men and women en masse are not able to subvert the overwhelming urge of procreation.

But the masses have been known to change cruel and unjust social systems. That is how human progress has come about. For instance, the tyranny of feudalism that for centuries kept people in serfdom was swept away by the suffering people. So the capitalist system of today, which, among its other crimes, breeds modern wars, must be overthrown and replaced by socialism.

Labor Action raises the slogan, “PEACE THROUGH SOCIALISM.”

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