Man's first thoughts are for his stomach, especially in these days when his pocket book is scarcely fat enough to fill it. When we must pay thirty cents for a ham sandwich, ten cents for a cup of coffee, and twenty cents for a piece of Washington Pie, we wonder if the days of highway robbery have entirely disappeared.
U. S. Dist.-Atty. Gallagher thinks they have not. His figures show that the cost of the ham sandwich in Boston is six cents. Of course it must be remembered that the ham sandwich must bear its share of wages, rent, waste, and other overhead expenses. Yet it does not seem a satisfactory answer to his charges of profits as high as three and four hundred per cent, to say the cost of the sandwich has gone up two or three hundred per cent since 1914. The charge is made with full consideration of today's price level. The answer is beside the point. The restaurant owners, when asked what percentage they are making, reply that they do not know. A business man knows what his profits are when he so chooses. One owner replied this: "They are lower than they ever have been." This means nothing. If the profits are extortionately high now, what have they been?
Investigation of affairs is surely justified when we find such an attitude. If the restaurant owners showed some desire to lower prices when it is possible, if they could show figures that would justify their position, the public might have some sympathy. Investigations are usually like the bark of a dog. There is no bite. But at least they serve to stir up public opinion, and this will in itself force the restaurant owners to take more nearly equable profits.