JANUARY 11, 1939
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—The New York Times carried a headline this morning: "Move To Cut Relief Funds Makes Gain In Congress." It is so easy to see why it should make a gain in Congress. It is such a very obvious thing to do, but I always wish that those government matters could just remain in the limbo called government and never have to come down to cases which involve actual human beings.
I deal, of course, almost entirely with the cases and the individuals. I choose at random from my mail a letter from a young actress in New York City, let out by the cuts in the art project. Evidently her formal education has been somewhat sketchy, but she must be at least acceptable as an actress, for she has taken a number of parts in shows commercially produced and has worked on WPA for some time. With a child to support, I do not suppose it is very easy to save much on a WPA actress' salary, so she tells me that when this notice becomes effective, she will have enough to live on for about a week and then what is she to do?
Another one from the South makes the simple statement: "My man is employed by ——-. The pay is so low that we cannot all of us eat. The doctor says two of us died of pneumonia, but I guess it was starvation."
In one case it is government, in the other the ago long problem of labor and capital. If it could only remain an academic problem and we didn't have to think of it in terms of human beings, how easy it would be. But when it comes down to human beings, then it is different and I wonder if we don't have to solve these problems from the standpoint of human beings or else acknowledge that we are beaten and that something is wrong with both our government and our economic setup.
I read with keen amusement the other day an article on the Kieran family in New York City. A pretty grand family I should say, but the thing which amused me most was the make-believe which all fathers go through. They really are tremendously proud when one of their sons for the first time, stumps them. I know, because I live in a family where the father happens to have an extraordinary memory and a great deal of general knowledge.
Some people are blessed with the kind of memories which retain everything they have ever read. The rest of us just bow down in shame before them. John Kieran (father) evidently is blessed in the same way, but when he remarked: "How sharper than a thankless tooth it is to have a serpent child," I am sure he did it with tongue in cheek, and a secret glow of pride. I have seen it happen once or twice, but it is quite a different thing I am sure, if it should be a daughter. I don't think that should ever happen!