My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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BOSTON—There is no doubt about it, that hours spent in a hospital sitting around are conducive to doing a great deal of knitting, if that happens to be the only kind of work you have at hand! I started a sweater not very long ago in the hope, which I confess was faint, that it would be finished as a Christmas present. These two days up here make me very hopeful that it will be ready long before that date arrives. I have read also a great many communications sent on from Washington for the mail contained a number of articles. Ordinarily, they might have stayed on my desk, or been carried around in my brief case for several days, but I have had time to go through them all.

One of the articles was of special interest. It appeared in one of our larger magazines, it deals with the topic of the curtailment of employment for people beyond thirty-five or forty years of age. It is interestingly written and gives some actual stories of what has happened in the past few years to people who found themselves obliged to look for new occupations between the ages of thirty-five and sixty-five. An old-age pension steps in to care for people at sixty-five or seventy. The writer makes an excellent point, however, it seems to me, when he says that this policy on the part of many employers of hiring only very young people will mean that we will only have some fifteen years in which to earn the necessary money to care for our children until they are of working age, and that age seems now to be somewhere in the twenties, and to provide for our own old age which is to begin, apparently, after fifteen years of work. Of course, looked at in cold blooded fashion, this is preposterous—for in our own experience we know that the most vigorous and able people of our acquaintance, doing the most important work in the world, are people between forty and sixty. We seem always to go to extremes in this land of ours. We neglect to help youth to get its first job and give youth the feeling that there is no place in the world in which it fits, and then we bring complete discouragement to the mature worker of thirty-five or forty by telling them time after time, "we prefer to employ people between twenty-five and thirty-five." How contradictory we are—and how lacking in real understanding, for these mature years should be used productively to increase the buying power of the nation. It would be legitimate to ask of these people that they contribute the constructive thinking which leads to more employment, that they help to find places for the young people entering industrial life; but to have no places for them is like writing a death warrant to the expansion of our industries.

E.R.
TMsd 26 October 1937, AERP, FDRL