MAY 8, 1947
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—The actions of Congress on foreign relief in these past few days, seem to me to show a total lack of comprehension on the part of these gentlemen as to the economic situation which our action will bring about for the people of Europe, and what that situation will eventually mean for our people here at home.
The rehabilitation of Europe may have a humanitarian interest perhaps, but it certainly has an economic interest. Without the European market, our standard of living will have to go down. We do not help Great Britain or the other European nations because we are interested in them particularly. We help them because we know that unless we do, their misfortunes will react unfavorably on us.
There is one fund, however, which may have economic aspects for the future, but which certainly has a humanitarian appeal to us in the present. Even on the Children's Emergency Fund, I see by the papers, that Congress is holding back and weighing whether we have any responsibility. Our full commitmentwould not be a very heavy obligation and yet it might save many children from starvation. If the work is successfully done, it might lead in the future to a continuance in other parts of the world of the demonstration on how best to feed children on native foods. Many children die today because in the localities where they live, no studies have been made on the cheapest and best way of feeding them, and very little is known about local sanitation problems. If these could be studied when the present crisis for Europe's children is over, we might find ourselves with healthier populations in many other countries of the world. Healthy people mean more work; more work means better production; better production means more trade, and more trade means improved economic conditions the world over.
If the only thing that will move our Congress to generosity is the threat of the spread of communism, I wonder if it ever occurs to them that the removal of misery is the best antidote we have against communism. If our democracy becomes a symbol in the world of a country which not only eats well, but refuses to accept any restrictions in order to help the rest of the world, then it seems to me that we are building up not only the best basis for communism throughout the world, but the best basis for hatred. We have always stood for generosity and opportunity and today people all over the world long to come to this country because they think of it as a land where freedom and opportunity and generosity hold sway, but the picture which Congress is now painting of us does not make us seem like an attractive people.