MAY 2, 1950
NEW YORK, Monday—We had an interesting press conference on my television program Sunday.
One of the things that stood out was the fear on the part of one veteran press woman—Elisabeth May Craig—that the government might gradually take over and dry up the sources of the news. I think she felt that a great deal of government assistance developed government control, and that this might grow to be dangerous. However, this did not seem to bother much the other guests on the panel—Genevieve Herrick, Doris Fleeson, Bess Furman and Emma Bugbee. Some agreed with me that personal intimidation and unwillingness to express a personal opinion are more serious.
Curiously enough, I had read an article in one of our New York newspapers about a report made by an industrialist to his stockholders which, in another way, voiced the same fear. He did not say that the gross and net earnings of his company were not high in 1949. He simply warned "that all business enterprise is continuing to lose in fundamental soundness in the United States."
The significant paragraph in his reasoning seems to me to be the following: "Constantly expanding paternalistic policies of goverment have oriented the minds of the American people toward reliance upon government for security (minimum wages, pensions, housing, etc.) and for directing and planning their lives.
These things, he feels, are hurting the traditional American characteristics of independence and self-reliance and driving us toward a socialistic state.
I notice that nearly everyone who talks of a socialistic state ties it up in the long run with dictatorship. As we look at Europe we can see a variety of socialistic developments. For instance, I would say that in Great Britain there was a limited economic socialism but still complete democratic freedom over the other areas affecting the lives of the people.
This industrial leader talks about over-expansion now and reliance on credit, and says it is bad. But, in another sentence he remarks about the value of the American "willingness to take risks in the hope of reward in successful endeavor, and to accept penalties for failure."
The two seem to me very nearly alike. I would agree that the size of the public debt was something we all had to face and that the proper kind of economy was urgent. But I would feel that since 75 percent of our expenditure is for present defense and past wars, that it would be well for us to examine where we could spend so as to lower the cost of present defense. Some imagination and willingness to risk for the future of us all might well be shown by the heads of our industries and our news agencies in helping us to solve this all-important problem.
Until we have solved the struggle between communism and democracy and have established a strong United Nations able to keep peace in the world, the lowering of the debt and the assurance of greater personal freedom for all of us as individuals are in jeopardy.
Once, however, the fear of each other can be controlled by joint force within the United Nations, I think there is no limit to what we may do as enterprising Americans in the world of the future.
I am not really fearful that the people of the United States are losing their initiative or their desire for freedom. I am only fearful that, unless we bestir ourselves, circumstances prevalent abroad will make it impossible for any nation to begin to pay its debts of the past and look forward to a more secure future.