NOVEMBER 27, 1945
NEW YORK, Monday—I was interested to see today that Mayor La Guardia had called a meeting of labor, contractors and investors, all of whom are interested in building. They might start giving New York City some of the new housing we need, if they could just get together and overcome their timidity! It is natural that those who are at present putting bids on buildings should be a little nervous unless they actually know what materials are available and what the cost of these materials will be. Here is where I think the Federal government, if it wishes to see the country start on the necessary building program, must step in immediately and furnish the necessary information to contractors.
After the last war, which lasted a far shorter time than this one, we went through the same difficulties on housing problems and delayed our building of state institutions for so long that the overcrowding became a complete disgrace. I am speaking now, of course, about the State of New York, but if I remember rightly the same conditions existed throughout the nation.
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With that knowledge in mind, it seems tragic that we should be doing the same thing over again. The people in institutions who suffer because of state and Federal government negligence cannot defend themselves: as inmates of these institutions, they are helpless victims. The people who need housing today, however, are citizens able to speak for themselves and to use their ballot. Returning veterans are doing their share in presenting their needs in the housing field. They should be supported by civilians in urban and rural areas who know that the need exists.
This is in no way a party matter, and politics should not enter into it. But anything may be used for political purposes, and so we should serve notice alike on Republicans and Democrats in office that meeting our building needs is a strictly business proposition and we do not wish it regarded as a political weapon.
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So far, in the General Motors strike, I think the labor representatives are showing a more public-spirited attitude than the company officials. Why should anyone in any business these days refuse to conduct further negotiations, if these will lead to production? When labor is willing to have the government conciliators present, there should be no objection. It looks as though the company officials were not interested in production. Of course, we know that it would probably not hurt the company financially if they were not to be in active production until the first of the year. But even if they do not lose money, they should be interested in the public.
We are anxious to get new cars, and we are also anxious to see the resumption of work in all lines of business production in this country. It is bad for the morale of the rest of the world when we do not produce.