JUNE 24, 1947
NEW YORK, Monday—Several people reading my column on what I thought about the Taft-Hartley Bill assumed that I was trying to advise a veto. It surprised me somewhat because I cannot imagine myself presuming to advise the President of the United States on his actions. As a citizen, however, one has the right to have personal opinions about legislation. And when the President has done something that one feels is courageous and wise, one also has an obligation, I think, to say so.
I know quite well that he must have had much pressure beforehand from many influential quarters and making up one's mind under those circumstances is not easy. Now that it is over, I want to congratulate him. I have no idea whether his action in vetoing the labor bill and the tax bill was politically wise or unwise. If you look in some papers, you are told it was political suicide. Only here and there will you find any suggestion that it might be a good idea for the President of the United States to do what he really thinks is right, after getting the best possible advice he can from experts.
I have often thought that, if it could be put simply enough so that one didn't have to be an economist or a financial wizard the people of this country really would like to know what are the most important reasons advanced on both sides of such controversial questions, and how the President arrives at his final decision. I have an idea there are a lot of us who could understand the basic factors of these decisions and of the legislation which goes through Congress if someone would put it into more homely language.
* * *
I am particularly conscious of language of the moment because with every hour I spend on the bill-of-rights drafting committee of the Human Rights Commission, I realize more and more vividly how difficult it is to say things which mean the same thing to people from different parts of the world! When lawyers are doing it, they use legal language; when economists are doing it, they use financial phrases; when doctors speak, they use medical language. Each occupation or profession seems to have a phraseology of its own, and we poor ordinary people are lost in the maze.
I think probably there is something that happens almost every day to everyone of us that would illustrate some very complicated problem. But nobody thinks of using it as an illustration and we go on thinking that finance and government and medicine and so on exist in a world far beyond our power of understanding.
The people, however, do get a feeling about someone who has the courage to do what he thinks is right. And I have a feeling, too, that Congress, in overriding the President's veto of the labor bill, may not find themselves so popular at home as they expect. No one likes the abuses in labor unions which have been ably pointed out by Westbrook Pegler and others, but such abuses are a tiny percentage of the labor movement. And organized labor does benefit all labor, whether organized or unorganized. The people have done a good deal of thinking about this particular bill!