FEBRUARY 11, 1939
NEW YORK, Friday—The meeting of the Farm Security people on Wednesday was interesting to me for a special reason. Only the day before one of our Democratic leaders who has years of experience and of wisdom behind him, made the statement to me that he thought 20 percent of our population could never be rehabilitated. This struck me as extraordinarily high, so I asked these men who are dealing with a group which undoubtedly has such a hard time that one would not expect much idealism or initiative to survive, what their percentage of failures had been. They told me that about 10 per cent do not make good. On re-examination of that 10 percent they frequently found that physical conditions are such that it would be impossible for them to make good and when these conditions are remedied they frequently rehabilitate 5 out of that 10 percent.
One man told me the story of a family where the total value of everything the family owned including their clothes, was five dollars when they were first taken on. At the end of two years they were worth over four hundred dollars. The significance of this should be recognized by the country, for it isn't just one family which is salvaged, it means that our national income is raised and the increased buying power will help the industrial worker as well as the farmer.
On Wednesday evening I had the privilege of attending an organization meeting of the Council of Young Southerners. To this meeting they had invited many of their Southern Senators and Congressmen and other leaders. I think all of us who belong to the older generation were impressed by the clear thinking and courage of this group of young people, but I kept thinking to myself how easy it would be to carry out plans and programs if one could always meet together in the spirit in which the meeting was conducted on Wednesday night. I felt there was no antagonism there, but a great desire to cooperate.
Yesterday morning I again visited the Self-Help Cooperative which is growing by leaps and bounds. They were making photographs so that the public may see the kind of work they do. To me the most significant thing is the fact that two kinds of salvage go on side by side. The things which most of us throw away because we have no further use for them are here being made into something useful for somebody, and those who accomplish this work are themselves being rehabilitated. Human beings and materials both being made over.
I came up to New York City yesterday afternoon with my brother by plane, and am returning on the night train after dining with the P.E.N. Club, and attending the New York Newspaper Women's Ball.