MARCH 17, 1951
HYDE PARK, Friday—It seems to me unfortunate that New York City's finances require either a one percent payroll impost or a sales tax increasing the present one from two to three percent. I should think the city administration would review its financial situation most carefully and see whether a certain amount of waste could not be cut out of the present operation of various departments that would make this sales tax unnecessary.
I do not believe in cutting down in anything that is essential to the health or education or pleasure of the people of the city. But we rarely in our management of public affairs use the kind of economy that would be used in private business. I wonder, therefore, whether this could not profitably be done now in both the city and state administrations.
The payroll impost has been rejected in Albany. A sales tax of any kind bears on rich and poor alike, but usually takes more out of the income of the poor, because their money is spent in necessary buying.
As far as business is concerned, it seems to me that this additional tax will undoubtedly mean less buying within the city. Many big New York City stores already have branch stores in outlying counties or suburbs. Any falling off of business in their city stores will mean they shall have to curtail activities there and increase them in their suburban branches. This will make New York a less attractive shopping center for transients and for the same reason that I regret the extra present tax placed on theatres and other types of amusement I regret any sales tax. A big city like New York depends for much of its life on attracting visitors. And at the present time when people are under strains and tensions that are hard to bear, amusements are almost as important as any other kind of business in drawing people to a big city.
I was born in New York City and I have a great affection for it and have watched it grow for many years. It has much to offer to visitors and I grieve to see things done that will make it less desirable as a place to shop or to enjoy oneself.
The withdrawal of Communist troops along our line in Korea gives us all a sense of relief. Yet one cannot help being anxious, for if it means the Communists were really going to enter into serious negotiations, one would expect to see some moves in that direction. A unified and free Korea is as much to be desired as it ever was.
No one doubts that Chinese influence always will be felt in Korea, because China is the great nation of Asia. If real reforms come about and the Chinese government is not simply a puppet government whose strings are pulled by the Politburo in Moscow, China eventually may do great things for the whole of Asia. A Chinese government, however, that follows the pattern of other satellite countries simply will mean that the Chinese people have gained a new master but that no real reforms or freedoms will be permanently theirs.
Let us hope that the lull in the fighting in Korea means negotiation and the real foreshadowing of an independent Chinese spirit.