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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(30 November 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 48, 30 November, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On November 14 James F. Byrnes, economic stabilization director, had published in all the newspapers “a positive program that will guarantee our people the basic living essentials that they must have at prices they can pay.”

By this time the housewife has learned to give such programs an I’m-from-Missouri reception. So she probably was not surprised – though plenty alarmed – to read on November 15 that, so good are the economic stabilizers at making and carrying out “positive programs,” that THERE WILL BE A SHORTAGE OF BUTTER, CHEESE AND EVEN MILK.

To add insult to injury, it is predicted that the OPA will be asked to RAISE CEILING PRICES on dairy products – as if they now function honestly! And do you know why. this “modest” request will be made to the OPA? To allow the rich dairy companies “FAIR” PROFITS!

There is something very positive indeed about all these programs. Working class housewives can always be positive that while they get it in the NECK, the bosses who own production get it in PROFITS.

Dr. Clive M. McCay, professor of nutrition, State College of Agriculture, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., recently declared that “the housewife should be as particular about what she feeds her family as the farmer is concerning the feed for his LIVESTOCK.”

The similarity between your family and the farmer’s livestock may be taken for granted by such pillars of capitalist society as professors of nutrition. Just as they take for granted that – while human beings are reduced to cattle – profits must go on as usual, only a little more so.

The working class housewife can afford to take neither for granted. She wants a society free from war and does not want to raise a family of cattle. Also she could be more particular about what she feeds her family if the bosses and the government agencies were less particular about that item of profit-as-usual – PLUS.

When she wakes up to her own interests, the working class housewife is going to be an ardent socialist. SHE HAS NO OTHER CHOICE.

Dr. Victor G. Heiser, medical consultant of the National Association of Manufacturers, reported “eleven thousand war workers killed or injured on and off the job every day since December 7, 1941.” SOME CASUALTY LIST!

He said that “fatigue and malnutrition” are the causes of this amazing slaughter of industrial workers. It was to provide some protection against just such a situation that labor fought to have labor laws passed.

If any group of workers need protection today it is certainly the inexperienced women who are entering production in droves. Yet the laws passed for the protection of working women have as much effect today as a feather in the wind.

For instance, night work is limited by law, but state Governors have taken it upon themselves to extend the limit from 10 p.m. to midnight to all the way around the clock. This means that women will be working day and night – during the day in their homes and during the night in factories. Of fatigue and malnutrition they will have plenty.

Another instance is the lowering of the age limit for girls employed in industry from 18 to 16 years. This was arbitrarily done by a ruling of the U.S. Labor Department. Kids of 16 will be thrown into the industrial cauldron where 11,000 workers are killed or injured each day!


Magistrate Jeanette G. Brill of Brooklyn is thoroughly convinced that “We have got to stop bringing unwanted war babies into the world.”

Speaking on the subject of juvenile delinquency, she said that while she was on the bench in Children’s Court in Brooklyn in one week – even before Pearl Harbor – eight girls between the ages of 12 and 15 were brought into court – about to become mothers.

She said that the situation is due to the fact that a “changed psychology exists among younger girls today. They label themselves the Victory Girls. They think that the boys are here today but may be dead tomorrow and they reason: ‘We’ll give them all they want.’” She said further that “War always brings about an increase in juvenile delinquency” and cited England’s increased rate of 46 per cent.

Nobody can find fault with Magistrate Brill’s understanding of her subject. It is quite complete – EXCEPT AS TO WHAT’S TO BE DONE. She made an earnest plea to schools and parents to “correct the situation,” but no serious correction is possible without removing the cause itself – WAR.

The millions of boys who “are here today and may be dead tomorrow,” the ignorant deluded kinds of 12 to 15, their unfortunate war babies – all are inevitable war casualties.

This human waste can be ended by the world-wide brotherhood of all nations in lasting peace under INTERNATIONAL SOCIALISM. That’s the answer.

In one of her columns in the New York World-Telegram, written from England, Mrs. Roosevelt said of the children evacuated from the city to the country:

“The children are all very good. The poor little things, I suppose so much has happened to them that nothing surprises them, any more. Usually these children are placed in some private house with large gardens, where the children thrive. But I fear the complication of returning to London’s slums afterward will be great for both mother and child, for the latter will undoubtedly be very unhappy.”

You’ve heard it said that this war is being fought for the “Four Freedoms” – the most important of which is “Freedom from Want”? Would you, expect that in a society free from want, SLUMS WOULD STILL THRIVE? Or does Mrs. Roosevelt conceive of a society in which the “Four Freedoms” will flourish right in the slums?

What really happened is that she was so carried away by sympathy for the children that she forgot all about “Four Freedoms” propaganda and came out with the naked truth: RIGHT BACK TO THE SAME OLD SLUMS THE CHILDREN WILL GO – if they are not bombed into powder, in which case the children will have nowhere to go.

Children in rotten slums in peacetime, bombed out. in wartime, only to be sent back again in peacetime – that’s what socialists want to put an end to!

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Last updated: 11 September 2014