OCTOBER 27, 1945
NEW YORK, Friday—I have come back from Washington with a sense of relief that I am not quite so close to the nation's problems as are the people who live there all of the time. There was a sense of vague disquiet and depression in so many people with whom I talked. In trying to analyze why it was, I think the remark of a very wise and experienced newspaper woman of my acquaintance probably explained it better than I could have, even after a great deal of investigation. She said the war was like a serious illness. The illness is over, but we have not yet completely recovered. People are uncertain, and their first attempts at walking are not very successful.
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In one of the forums for wounded soldiers which I attended, a man asked a question which I think perhaps we should all take to heart. He said: "I am not well yet from the wounds received from this war, and yet I hear people around me talking about the next war, even suggesting that one of our Allies may be our next enemy. I see my fellow citizens unable to agree as to how the average man in the United States is to have peace abroad and a better life at home, which is what we fought for during the war. I can't see that we have won anything if we have to keep preparing for another war and if the average man is not going to have a better break in everyday living!"
How about the Full Employment bill? And the Unemployment Compensation bill, Mr. Senator and Mr. Representative? The President sent up a legislative program which was supposed to meet, on the home front, the questions of this wounded soldier; but I don't see that anything is happening to it. We are no further along than we were the day after it went up. In fact, the Unemployment Compensation bill has been defeated.
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In traditional fashion, when we went into the war, we procured the cooperation of capital by carefully protecting them against loss during the reconversion period. During the war, for the most part, the gains of business were considerable, particularly among the larger industrial firms. Apparently we didn't have to guarantee the people working in factories as much safety for the future as we did the employers whose investment was concerned. That investment, of course, was held by many of the people of the United States, but not to a very great degree by the workers themselves.
So now we are in the curious position of having forgotten to safeguard the people who worked loyally through the war and who kept their promise to see us through the crises. It isn't just the soldiers who are bewildered and who wonder whether the war was worth fighting. There must be great groups of other people in this country who begin to wonder whether we don't sometimes have sit-down strikes on the part of capital and on the part of government.