MAY 2, 1953
NEW YORK, Friday—I see that Pakistan is asking for some aid to meet its shortage in wheat supply. I hope we are going to be able to give that help without too much discussion for the country surely needs it.
Ever since being in Pakistan, I realized what great difficulties they have in increasing the food-productive areas because of the amount of desert land to which water has to be brought if it is to provide food for the people. Certainly, our country, where we have never really known what a persistent famine area is, ought to help in every way we can where food is needed.
The objective, of course, all over the world is to increase productivity, and the United Nations through its food and agriculture specialized agency, is doing all it can to help achieve this objective. But like so many other things, it takes time.
I received a letter the other night from State Senator Thomas C. Desmond, Chairman of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on problems of the aged. The month of May has been designated in this state as "Senior Citizens' Month."
We have become aware, and I am sure it is a countrywide problem, of our older people who feel they are losing their capabilities. And at the same time we do know that there is a great contribution many of them can still make if only we can work out a pattern. Because we have an increasing number of old people in our midst, because of better sanitation and medical care, we must try to make life worth living for them, and at the same time help them to be useful to the community, to their families and to the business world.
Many people who are forced to retire at a certain age are still very dependable workers, and if they can find work suitable to their years they can frequently reeducate themselves. Then, instead of feeling a burden, they can actually have 10 to 15 years of continued ability to produce.
Sometimes it seems easier to find things for women to do when they are over 65. They can be very useful in the home, and there are good jobs where older women are preferred to younger women. Many of these older people would rather, if they can, keep their own homes but are more than glad to help in any possible way.
I think our old-age assistance should be carefully looked over because I have had so many sad letters lately about the requirement that an old couple, or an old man or woman, give up their home or any property they have before they can be eligible for assistance from the old-age fund.
The idea underlying this, of course, was a very good one. It was necessary to be sure that people who did not really need assistance would not receive it. But there ought to be a way to do it without taking away people's life savings.
Could we perhaps supplement what they themselves have been able to do rather than take away from them?