SEPTEMBER 18, 1952
NEW YORK, Wednesday—As long as the rent question is such a burning question these days, I should like to discuss it with you.
Letters have come to me from people owning real estate and I am sure that they are right when they say that, having built houses and rented them before rent controls were put on, the rents are now too low. They do not find it possible to get the rents raised and, therefore, they make no repairs and they certainly cannot afford to do more building.
On the other side of the picture, however, many of the people who have to rent living quarters cannot afford much more than they are now paying. They save little or nothing in spite of high wages because prices for food and clothing and other necessities have gone up steadily.
One of my correspondents said something very pertinent in her letter. "If materials and labor had been frozen when the rents were frozen, the situation would not be so critical," she wrote. This is the key to most of our troubles. If prices had been frozen a long while ago they would not have risen and wages, in turn, would not have had to go up.
In my own immediate neighborhood of Hyde Park houses are going up very rapidly in developments. These are small homes, with only a small plot of land around them, but they are attractive little places. So far as I can judge, they are being sold before they are finished, so there must still be a shortage in housing even in this area where it seems to me the building going on is quite phenomenal.
We are blessed in having building materials available, and I am told that some of the modern prefabricated houses are remarkably quick to put up and comfortable to live in.
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I have been sent an article with a number of statements underlined and have been asked for comment. And I would rather comment publicly than privately.
It is a review of a book by Dr. Charles C. Tansill, called "Back Door To War." This learned gentleman is a professor of American diplomatic history in Georgetown University. He had asked for permission to go through the files of the State Department and this was granted. The article states that he is "the first historian permitted to study the complete files of the State Department."
One of the underlined parts marked for my edification reads: "From State Department records Dr. Tansill proved that Japan tried in vain to make some sort of peace with the United States."
I cannot believe that much that is said in this article is true. I feel that Dr. Tansill must have given his own interpretation to the facts and to the material he read in the files. He is evidently prejudiced in favor of Japan and, therefore, not a very reliable interpreter.