NOVEMBER 5, 1953
NEW YORK, Wednesday—It seemed odd this year to vote in a new place. All my voting life I have gone to the Town Hall in the Village of Hyde Park, but the population must have grown because we are now in the sixth district and we voted in the new elementary school.
The very first proposition on the ballot was in the finest possible print and I did not remember having seen it discussed before so I had to read it with great care and I think my son, John, and his wife thought I was never going to finish in the booth.
There was not the interest in this off-year election when none of our high officials such as governor and President were being voted for. But to country localities these elections are still important because the management of the townships will be efficient or inefficient, according to the kind of services the local officers give and they were all on the ballot.
I am sure that it is quite true that Secretary Benson's policy of closing the regional offices of the Soil Conservation Service and turning their duties over to the state offices is fully backed by the President. A Republican friend of his told me that the President's philosophy was that many things now in the hands of the Federal Government should go back to the states, and in theory this is perhaps a good thing.
As far as the soil conservation program is concerned, I am not familiar enough with the duties of the regional offices to have any judgment of the wisdom of the present Department of Agriculture's policy, but if this program is carried out in such areas as forest preserves and national parks we will most certainly undo in actual practice much of the conservation that has been so carefully worked out. The states without question will be tempted to turn forests and water power over to the control of private corporations or individuals.
You need only travel a short way in some of our western states to see what private interests do to forests. Forests are vital to the water table of any country and without any question this theory which sounds reasonable will in practise prove very detrimental to the interests of the people. The offshore oil decision affected all parts of the country in that had it gone another way all parts of the country might have profited by revenues for their schools in the future.
This is just a continuation of the philosophy that states do better than the Federal Government. I will not say, of course, that the Federal Government is never open to influence but it is a little more difficult to reach it and in the question of conservation the local pressures can be felt quite as strongly on the Federal level so that I think we have a little more chance of considering matters from the point of view of the interest of the whole people.