OCTOBER 15, 1954
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Thursday—There was a long editorial in one of our papers Wednesday morning about the fact that Defense Secretary Charles Wilson has a genius for saying the wrong thing and that the President has been trying to explain what he (Mr. Wilson) meant when he said he preferred hunting dogs to kennel-fed ones. The Democrats have jumped all over Mr. Wilson and said he likened the unemployed to dogs. Altogether, what seemed to me a rather succinct phrasing (by Mr. Wilson) of the philosophy that Welfare Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby calls "The Middle of the Road" philosophy seems to be possible of all kinds of interpretations!
If I understood Mrs. Hobby aright, she said that the President believed in government aid to people but he did not believe that government aid should take away personal responsibility and initiative. Therefore, while he increased the number of people covered by Social Security, he would carefully investigate everything which he felt might be carried by the states or individuals themselves instead of by the Federal government.
When Mr. Wilson made his remark, I thought it simply meant that he preferred dogs and people who did their share of the work and earned not only their own way but perhaps a considerable amount for others. I rather think all of us in America would favor such a philosophy. The difficulty is that such achievement is not always possible.
Setting up the machinery for a particular program and finding the right people to administer the job for successful operation is not always as easy as it sounds.
Also, in order to be sure that you do nothing unnecessary, sometimes you are led into one of the mistakes which I think Mrs. Hobby highlights. She says the President favors investigation as to what the school needs are in the country, and then, finally, holding a White House conference.
Such investigations have been going on for a long time and there are plenty of reports to demonstrate what the needs are. If we do not act soon, the children of our country are going to suffer. No committee to investigate needs will take the place of action. Therefore, we really need legislation to provide a building program and a training program for teachers as well as a change in attitude towards the value of our teachers. The danger of a middle of the road philosophy is that it is too comfortable and does not actually recognize the difficulties that exist.
Perhaps I was not so sensitive to the comparison between people and dogs because I happen to be very fond of dogs. And I think they have some traits that are more endearing than those of some people. One of the great difficulties in Washington is that statistics and programs and policies so easily obscure the human problems which are present in the lives of so many citizens.