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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(28 December 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 52, 28 December 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Hard times for us means good times for the rich owners of the stores where we pay such outlandish prices.

For instance, Federated Department Stores, Inc., has made almost double the clear profit this year as in the corresponding period last year – of course, after deducting taxes.

First paying dividends on its preferred stock, the company still has enough left to pay SIXTY-EIGHT CENTS a share on its common stock – as against ONLY THIRTY-ONE CENTS for the same period last year.

Another instance of bigger and better profits as the war goes on!

Among the broader hints to housewives is the one to eat chicken when meat is scarce. That is like the tip that Marie Antoinette gave the poor of her day to eat cake when they didn’t have bread. Because, as every housewife knows, chicken costs around forty cents a pound.

The Borden company is never getting enough money for its dairy products. It is constantly before this or that government agency, pressing for higher prices – which we pay.

To complete the picture it is necessary to know that this poor, forlorn, underpaid corporation has netted profits amounting to $1.90 a share for the year 1942 – after making every kind of deduction for taxes, for a substantial “contingency reserve,” etc. Its shares of stock are selling at about $22 on the New York Stock Exchange. So that a profit of $1.90 a share would make the rate of gain around ELEVEN AND A HALF PER CENT! This will help you understand why we pay so much for milk, cream, cheese and other dairy products.

In a very old Broadway hit, Camel Through the Needle’s Eye, there is a scene in which a poor woman, about to receive a visit from the charity people, boils cabbage and lets the smell of it permeate the house. In those days about the only green vegetable the poor could afford was the humble cabbage. When a house smelled of cabbage, the inhabitants’ poverty was unquestionable.

But those were the happy days!

In the last couple of weeks the A&P has boosted the price of the humble green from two cents to five cents a pound – a 150 per cent mark-np! A three-pound head formerly at the purchasable price of six cents puts on the Ritz and sells for fifteen cents.

Price profiteering has thrown the humble cabbage up the stairs and under a top hat!

The A&P – the largest chain grocery in the country, doing an annual business of $1,378,660,000 and making plenty of profit – is under indictment for violation of the anti-trust laws.

The housewife will be interested to know that among the charges against this colossus of the grocery business is that it follows that “systematic practice of secretly enhancing their actual prices above their advertised prices through short-changing, short-weighing and marking up prices on store tags and purchases.”

In other words, this powerful, rich super-trust takes food out of the mouths of consumers to put more profits into its own pockets!

Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co., Procter & Gamble Co. and Lever Crothers Co. do more than 80 per cent of the business in soap and soap products in this country. So they got together to take full advantage of their monopolistic position. They have entered into a conspiracy “to fix, maintain and stabilize prices” at exceeding profitable figures.

Why not? That’s part of the profit system which FDR has pledged himself to maintain, isn’t it?

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Last updated: 11 September 2014