FEBRUARY 18, 1942
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—I had the pleasure yesterday of seeing Mrs. June Hamilton Rhodes, who came down from New York City to talk over some aspects of merchandising in Latin America, brought about by the recent South-American Fair held in New York City. This was most successful and created tremendous interest. There is much more we can undoubtedly do along these lines.
In the evening, I went to speak to a small group called the Monday Evening Club. I found to my pleasure that Dr. Winifred Cullis, who has been speaking as a representative of the British Government, was the other speaker. She told of what had been done in England for the benefit of the civilian population. As she proceeded, it became evident that, without mentioning the Office of Civilian Defense, she was making a speech in favor of all the activities which dealt with volunteer participation or civilian mobilization, and which had little or nothing to do with civilian protection.
It became increasingly clear that England had discovered that civilian protection could not exist without civilian mobilization, which brought about well being in the communities and a sense of security in the people.
In reading the papers this morning, I could not help wondering how the displaced men feel in industries all over the country. They are anxious to get to work but, for the time being, must wait for industries to be converted to new uses. Members of Congress and Governors of States, talk about increasing the unemployment compensation to a possible $24.00.
People seem to forget that this unemployment compensation usually must cover the needs of families ranging from four to six members—rent, food, heat, light, clothing, recreation, education, medical care must all come out of this sum. Could the Congressmen do it on any less? Could the Governors do it on any less? We have a bad habit of not putting ourselves in the place of those we are trying to represent, and whose needs we are supposed to be considering.
On the other hand, I think people have been making a hue and cry over something which has never been quite well understood. Congress did not vote a pension to itself. It established a system of insurance, by which every person earning a salary in the Government would pay in a certain amount regularly and, after a given number of years of public service, would be entitled, according to the amount paid in, to a certain sum as a yearly pension.
This is nothing more than what we are trying to work out under the old age pension system. I think it is sound from the point of view of giving these people, during their working years, a chance to make provision for their retirement.