FEBRUARY 17, 1953
NEW YORK, Monday—I read in one of our local newspapers a little item concerning the rules and regulations of an exclusive Japanese girls' school. Forty-four girls, it was reported, had been suspended for disobeying the rules and a good many youngsters here in this country almost certainly will sympathize with them. The Japanese girls were forbidden to have "permanent waves."
This was done "to nurture wholesomeness and to avoid showiness." If the girls have long hair they are required to braid it and they are not to use hair clips. Hair ribbons are limited in width and length and the color must be as nearly as possible like the color of the hair. Socks and shoes are also "regulated."
Many of our schools could match these rules and even add to them. But no one should be surprised when rebels appear because that is almost inevitable where ladies are concerned.
All of us will watch with great interest in the coming months the outcome of the policies being put into operation by the Department of Agriculture.
Many of us remember that the depression of the early '30s started by a situation that removed all buying power from most of our farmers. I can remember, because I was working in the Democratic State Committee office at the time. I began to have visitors from the Middle West who told me of the many farms that were being lost to their owners and turned over to the banks that held the mortgages because the farmers could not pay the interest. The cost of production kept going up but the prices for the sale of the commodities produced never covered the cost.
At first this seemed like a situation that affected only the farms and largely the Middle Western area of our country. In time, however, we saw the effect on the national economy of such a great section of our people losing their buying power. Factories ceased to run full time, and little by little more and more closed down. Banks began to fail in great numbers and before we knew it we were in a more serious depression than we had ever known. The Republican Administration that happened to be in power took such measures as it felt advisable and kept assuring us that prosperity was just around the corner. But prosperity stayed around the corner, and many of us came to know what breadlines in our streets really meant.
I rehearse all this just as a reminder. We must not hold the belief that a loss of buying power among one group of our people is unimportant.
A man from Texas told me the other day that he was selling his young calves for just half of what he sold them for a few years ago. That is a big difference in price, and while he may still be able to make something it will make a dent in his buying power.
These are complicated problems—especially when we are trying to balance up just what the consumer gains by lower prices—if those lower prices mean that he is perhaps working where his own wages will be cut because the things he makes cannot be bought by a certain group of people.
There is so much interdependence today in the whole field of economics, not only at home but abroad, that every move, whether in agriculture, industry or commerce, must be studied from many different angles. What seems like a superficial advantage to some may in reality, when stacked up against all the picture, be too great a loss for many to sustain.