APRIL 21, 1939
FARGO, N.D., Thursday—I left Seattle last night and was glad to be able to stay through Curtis' birthday. His greatest joy was a new bicycle which he had to try out when he came home for luncheon yesterday. He wished at once to ride it to school, but we suggested that perhaps one should have a way of locking one's bicycle before one left it in a parking place with all the others, so he has delayed for a day or so.
I have been receiving a great number of letters from people who feel that old age pensions are one of the ways by which we can best "distribute money." I am beginning to wonder if people who have lost sight of the fact that until this care for the aged ceases to be old age assistance, which is a direct tax on every taxpayer to support people who have ceased to produce, we cannot consider this a productive expenditure of money. When this actually becomes a pension to which people have contributed during their productive years, we will be on an entirely different basis and people will be entitled to receive a sum in proportion to what they produced during their working years.
At present, old age assistance is in no way different from WPA In fact, WPA actually produces much more in return for what is expended and can, therefore, be considered as a far better productive expenditure than any plan at present for the assistance of the aged. We must consider old age assistance purely as a charity to which we should be glad to contribute because these people have often lived hard-working, useful lives. However, not their savings or the results of their own work are being spent on them, but a tax which must be carried by the community.
Especially in localities where the general finances have not been well administered, a very high contribution for the care of the aged may mean that other necessary government functions are neglected. The other day I read of one state where the regular institutions are not sufficiently well supported and, in some instances, insane people are being released from the asylums. In another state, schools are being curtailed on account of old age assistance, which is particularly high in that state. This seems to me extremely costly management and may mean less opportunity for the children in the future. I doubt if any of us can justify that particular type of financial management. We want to provide adequately for old people, but we must not let young people suffer. A balance must be kept.
There is a program being carried on over the air in a number of places called the "Job Finder Program." In Seattle it was locally sponsored by my son-in-law's paper. Stories of those who need jobs are broadcast and employers who have openings listen in and tell of possible employment. I think this might be developed to far greater usefulness in every community and might even find temporary employment for some of the older people who are not yet eligible for old age assitance and who have not found employment available in industrial life.