JANUARY 17, 1936
Today I had the very interesting experience of being allowed to sit in during a discussion of various aspects of our industrial problem in this country. Briefly stated, the problem is of thirty-four million people who live in towns of less than ten thousand population, ranging from a few hundreds up. The problem of these small places is not entirely one of the depression years. There are a number of reasons why the earnings are perhaps not up to what they were ten or fifteen years ago. One reason is that industrial progress has frequently consolidated industry in the larger centers, leaving the people in small towns without a method of obtaining a cash income.
In some places the natural resources from which they derived a livelihood have worked out, but the town still remains and standards of living and the ability to be a buying power in the large cities goes down. To restore the buying power of these people by giving them a means of earning a cash income would seem to be one of the possible ways in which to develop new markets for increased production. So much for the practical view point.
From the point of view of increased happiness and better social conditions, the economic basis is paramount also, and therefore this question is a many sided question. I was delighted to find that the industrial leaders present attacked the problem not only from the theoretical angle of a future solution, but had a determination to practically take some individual places and try to find out through actual experimentation how the problem could be met in a few instances, realizing of course, that in each case the problem would differ, and the solution would be different. They felt if the interest of the country could be awakened they would open up a vista for a new type of pioneering.