In Warsaw last week, thousands of Polish housewives queued up for sugar, flour, salt and potatoes. A shiny new self-service market called "Super Sam"* rang up $4,000 in sales during its first two hours.
To stem the panic buying, the regime dispatched extra food allotments into the city, reassuringly announced that warehouse supplies were ample. Few shoppers were convinced, especially after city officials set limits to individual purchases.
The housewives' fear was obvious. Poland, they were sure, was about to follow the Soviet Union in raising food prices.
Said one woman: "Why else...