APRIL 12, 1947
HYDE PARK, Friday—In the name of economy, strange things are happening in Congress these days, but nothing stranger than what is being done to the Labor Department budget.
The Department of Labor is small, and a good part of its budget goes to the states for grants to their employment services. No one, I think, will claim that the employment services have been over-financed. They have never had enough money to do more than register people seeking work and try to bring them together with people wanting workers. There has never been any attempt to investigate the records of workers or employers, but at least these services have provided a place where you could seek work and where those who wanted workers could register their needs.
In addition, through this agency, some knowledge of the possibilities for work in different parts of the country, or of the oversupply of labor anywhere, could be made available and statistics could be kept on employment or the lack of it. This, however, seems to mean little or nothing when an era of economy is on, even though one of the freedoms we are hoping for is freedom from want—a freedom which certainly cannot exist if men are allowed to do without jobs.
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Also, at a time when the tension between labor and management is apt to flare up at any moment, Congress reduces the appropriation for the Labor Department's Conciliation Service! It has seemed to me that, through the Conciliation Service, certain suggestions might eventually come which might lead to a rapid increase in the establishment of labor-management committees. And the government might help these committees to function in a way that would minimize the need for strikes. But if we weaken the Conciliation Service, its staff will certainly not be doing any research or fresh thinking or new kinds of work. They will hardly be able to carry on any work at all.
The suggestion that the Bureau of Labor Statistics should be cut because "it has grown beyond its original size under the law which established it," seems to me a rather strange suggestion. We haven't decreed that our population should remain the same year after year, nor have we decreed that we should take no steps to increase our production and our general business activity. Unless we did this, we could hardly expect the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be able to do its work today with the same number of people it employed when it was organized.
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One wonders really whether the gentlemen in Congress want our system of private enterprise to be a success. Do they want democracy to provide full employment for the people of our nation, and do they want an economy which benefits the people as a whole? Perhaps they hope to establish an economy which will keep up large incomes for certain great business corporations but cut down on small business, gradually reducing the living standard for the average individual while keeping it high for the few favored people. This is not a democratic theory, but it seems to be what some of our members of Congress are advocating and trying to achieve at the present time.