FEBRUARY 5, 1952
PARIS, Monday—I have been reading about the floods in various parts of our country at home, and again they point up what I have felt for a long time is a shortsighted policy on the part of Congress.
Over the years we have lost and are losing constantly increasing amounts through flood damage. Now, it is true that to begin a really comprehensive flood-control plan we would have to undertake surveys in the upper Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri rivers and include many of the other of the Mississippi tributaries. Perhaps the whole comprehensive system could not be undertaken at one time. But if a plan were made and year by year we made progress our flood damage would diminish.
This is the kind of thing that requires imagination, foresight and coordination because some of the essentials would mean reforestation as well as a number of the dams, but the amount of electricity and the by-product advantages that could develop from such comprehensive planning would in the end be valuable financially to our country.
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We in the U.S. are supposed to have this kind of imagination, and I have often wondered what keeps us from using it instead of letting thousands of people every year suffer personally and communities and business enterprises continue to lose large sums of money when our rivers go on a rampage.
It is distressing to read over here of the unemployment in the automobile industry in Michigan. This also seems to indicate bad planning somewhere. It seems to me that if the building of automobiles is curtailed the actual amount of materials going into more necessary equipment has not been reduced and it should be possible to keep great numbers of people employed on the new things rather than throw them out of work.
It was a shock to read in the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune this headline: "Soup Doled to Jobless in Michigan."
This kind of thing, which will be spread in the papers of the Soviet Union and her satellites, does not help us much with our allies.
It is true that some of the trouble may be that we have to share some of the raw materials and they may be more essential and even more useful in some other countries, but surely with advanced planning and constantly keeping in mind the welfare of the people we ought to be able to prevent much unemployment when the world is fairly crying out for things which we can produce.
I have a note today from England which illustrates how even the children are conscious of the era of austerity in which they live. I sent a box of candy to a godchild of mine and in reply she wrote: "Your wonderful present was brought up to London yesterday by my grandfather. Thank you very much indeed. In England one can never buy a box like this because the ration is much less. So it is a great change to have a box like this in the house."
I notice the youngster writes it is her house that will share in this box! Any youngsters at home who have friends in Great Britain might remember to send them some sweets now and then.
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I had a rather touching appeal the other day from a French curate whose old church bell was cracked in ringing in the liberation. He wonders if anyone in the U.S. would raise the money so he could have the bell recast. It would be an undertaking far beyond the means of his small parish.
I get many appeals also from polio patients, and Saturday night I went to a ball given here in my husband's name and planned by Americans. The proceeds will go to French institutions that give up-to-date care to these patients.