MARCH 6, 1947
PORTLAND, Ore., Wednesday—It is a long time since I have crossed our country by train, but when one does, one gets a realization of the vastness of the United States. Outside our train windows yesterday were the familiar plains—miles and miles of land looking more or less like desert. I saw few vehicles on the road and fewer human inhabitants.
I have always loved the West. The vastness of the spaces must make for self-reliance and independence in the people. Nature may be a friend, but in some of her aspects she calls on man's strength—physical, mental and spiritual—since she can also be a formidable antagonist. Resources must exist within an individual if he is to live successfully in these sparsely populated, wide-open spaces.
That is probably why our West so often breeds more liberals than reactionaries. They are alone enough not to be afraid of realities, and they have time to think—to analyze their beliefs and their motives and to understand the need for human cooperation.
* * *
I think that most of our Westerners, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, are not going to be so anxious to cut the income tax and slash the President's budget. They will consider what these slashes may mean. Our armed forces are able to speak up and say what a cut in their appropriations will mean, but we are not hearing so much about what the cuts will mean in other services.
We cannot afford to curtail soil conservation, either in the East or in the West. We cannot afford to abate by one iota our reforestation anywhere in the nation. It is vital to the future of our farm areas, and though you may live in a city, what happens to the land of your country touches you as closely as if you were a farmer.
We cannot afford to do anything but add largely to our educational funds, both federal and state. The people of this nation are our greatest asset and we must have an educated people, both because of our economic interests at home and abroad, and because of our desire for peace in the world.
I am told we may cut our school lunch program. If we do, we are being penny wise and pound foolish, for this is one of the things which has helped the health of our children very greatly. To cut it out would be not only an injury to health but an injury to education, since only well-fed children can absorb education to the fullest extent.
We cannot economize on health programs, and we cannot economize on relief for the world.
I am more than willing to see us try to run our government with greater efficiency and economy. I am more than willing to see us cut out the luxuries which we have come to think are essential. I am more than willing to see us pay high for all the things which are not essential. But I hope and pray that our Congress will have the wisdom to tax us on luxuries, so that we may continue doing the essential things which mean prosperity and well-being in the future.