MARCH 6, 1946
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I see in the papers that the emergency housing program designed for veterans has had a setback in the House. Apparently, the majority do not believe in subsidizing housing.
Also, a group of our legislators believe the time has come for strict economy and retrenchment. This is an interesting theory that requires great judgment in practice because, if we economize too far and on the wrong things, we are apt to find that we have cut down the people's earning power to such an extent that we have injured our whole economy rather than benefitted it.
Many of our legislators are not economists. They, like the rest of us, learn some very wise basic principles when they are young which should govern our private lives but, when these same principles are applied to the Government, we are apt to get into trouble. In the sphere of economics, we need the most expert advice possible!
It seems obvious to me that cutting down on housing is not our best way of economizing at the present time. Shelter is a basic need. Health and happiness depend very largely on the ability of people to find decent places in which to live. And I know from my own experience that, if things are not running well at home, one's ability to work is hampered. I am sure that a veteran who has his family in one room, and probably pays more than he can afford for that one room, is not going to do good work.
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We are faced with a national telephone strike on Thursday. But I hope it is becoming apparent to both management and labor that, if the machinery set up to prevent strikes is not adequate, then they must set up machinery that will do the job.
At the present time, to hold back production by any strikes is to injure the whole community—labor and management alike. The use of the telephone has come to be an essential part of our business procedure. If we cut off something which facilitates the conduct of business, we are hampering production.
Fifty years ago, everybody did their business by letter, or journeyed slowly from one place to another to discuss their business in person. Today everything moves faster and the telephone is one of the ways in which we facilitate the doing of business. For that reason, a strike will bring serious resentment and the same lack of consideration of the rights and wrongs at issue which always results when the public is seriously inconvenienced.
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I was trying to get a taxi this morning when a man actually offered to get out of his and give it to me! This courtesy seemed too much to accept, so I asked him if I might take him to his destination. On the way, he told me he had just come to New York from Arizona, bringing 100 carloads of cattle, 40 head to a car. He had been in the Navy and had seen many places during the war, but I admired his devotion to his own state and his joy at being back on his father's ranch. These are the men that make our nation strong, and I was glad that I could tell him that I too had an affection for his state and was looking forward to being there later this month. His sturdiness and his integrity gave my spirit a lift.