JULY 22, 1950
HYDE PARK, Friday—One of the points singled out as of special interest by a number of people who listened to the President's speech on the air the other night, was the fact that he made an appeal to housewives not to get panicky and begin to hoard goods. It has always seemed to me the height of foolishness to try to buy up more than you actually need, with the idea that you will have what you need even if your neighbors are left without.
If there are going to be shortages in food supplies or other commodities in this country, it is quite obvious that none of us could stock up enough stores so that we would be well off, leaving the rest of our neighbors lacking certain necessities. The President has said there is no shortage of foodstuffs in this country, and that is borne out by the surpluses of many things which have had to be bought by the government during the past few years.
The President has also said that if shortages arise he will set up the necessary machinery, as was done in the last war, so that all of us will share alike, and he characterized as selfish and stupid those of us who thought about our own needs alone. He was right in that, for I can think of nothing which would give more courage to the Soviet Union and those who believe in communism, than to discover that, under a democracy the people cannot voluntarily conduct themselves in a manner which will serve the interests of all the people, and not the interests of just a few.
One of the excuses offered for totalitarian government is that human beings are not capable of the kind of self-discipline which tends to watch out for the needs of the whole people rather than for the needs of the few. We, who live in the free democracies, have the opportunity now to prove that we are really capable of doing voluntarily what the Communists claim can only be done by imposing the will of a dictatorial government on all the people under their control.
Whenever it is possible at the present time, housewives are probably putting away such foods as they are not actually using on their own tables day by day, for use next winter. This is a wise and thrifty procedure because it means that what we have we will use now, or in the future. The government will probably require more of our agricultural production than would have been necessary if we had not been forced to strengthen our whole military set up.
So, I think, without being asked, we, who are housewives, might set ourselves two tasks—no hoarding or buying of anything which we are not actually going to use now or preserve for winter use; no wasting and, where it is possible for those of us who have the space, the time and the materials at hand, there should be an effort to use all farm products that are available and can be put up in any way for future use.
It seems to me the important thing at present is for every individual to remain calm and objective, and not to act from impulse before they have thought through what is actually wise and necessary.