AUGUST 7, 1941
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—I returned to Hyde Park yesterday in time for a swim and a nice, cool dinner on the porch. Then came long hours of work at my desk, catching up with the mail.
Yesterday, in New York City, was given over in great part to seeing various people, after which I visited the hairdresser, a very feminine occupation.
I was glad to see that the House of Representatives, in considering the tax bill, did not accept the idea of joint income tax returns for husband and wife. I realize that this might bring in a higher revenue, for it would frequently put the tax returns in the group where surtaxes make the tax much higher.
However, it seems to me that some other way of obtaining money would be wiser than a measure which strikes at the roots of a fundamental principle, which we in this country have been establishing over a long period of years; the right of women to be considered as persons. There was a time when a woman married and her property became her husband's, her earnings were her husband's and the control of the children was never in her hands.
The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it. In a lighter vein, it has been said that this bill is an encouragement to immorality. But that, of course, is said only by those who believe that the way to make people conscious of anything, is to make it preposterous. It might, however, prove to be a real deterrent to the work of women, and that brings us to another rather fundamental question.
Do we believe that work of any kind, honestly performed, creates work? If so, then it is an advantage to have every individual using his abilities productively. It is true that machines have taken over the work of human hands to a great extent, but the real problem before us is how to make the work of the machines a benefit to human beings and not a detriment.
I do not think that, fundamentally, the way to solve the problem is to say that people should grow lazy and not use what abilities and wits a kindly Providence may have given them. I realize that this is a question which can be argued from many points of view and this column is too short to cover it adequately. I am only trying to point out the fact that we have some decisions to make in the future, and we had better think them through intelligently and make sure of what we really believe.