JULY 6, 1955
HYDE PARK—The settlement of the steel strike and the increase in the price of steel to $7.50 a ton will mean a rise in cost of building and in many other things that use steel. These increases in wages and manufactured steel are greater than expected, but certainly the rise in wages and perhaps even the increased cost of steel will not cost the public as much as a long steel strike would have. And the relief at not having a long-drawn-out and bitter struggle is great.
The government, since there was no immediate emergency, was able to take a neutral, hands-off stand, and the results of the negotiations were purely the results of collective bargaining between management and labor.
Rises in wages are always asked for on the basis of the need to preserve purchasing power in the group of people who spend most of what they earn immediately and to keep pace with the increased cost of living. The rises in prices, of course, are always said to be a necessity to cover increases in wages.
Here, I think, there is room for a real study to be made, because it is obvious that these rises in prices increase the cost of living to all wage earners. There is always the question concerning the point at which this has to stop. Increases in wages do not really increase purchasing power. These rises in wages must be granted with an eye toward the stabilizing of our economy and should be covered by economies made by management in certain areas.
Not long ago I read a report by Mr. Leon Keyserling, noted economist, who said we could increase the well-being of our people and have full employment if we take certain steps, which he enumerated and dwelt upon. Now, it seems to me, that this is a wages-and-increased-living-costs question that Mr. Keyserling should devote a real study to, as sooner or later it has to be faced.
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There is one thing that always impresses me at the beginning of a holiday. One should be looking forward only to pleasure, yet one is always faced with warnings of the number of people who will be killed on the roads.
I have often wondered if there is some way we could beg our citizens to drive more slowly during the vacation week ends. Perhaps one way would be to set 50 miles per hour as the speed limit everywhere and hope that this might lessen the occurrence of accidents. Of course, this would not hold on major highways such as New York's Thruway, which I understand requires 60 miles per hour, but I imagine there and on other major arteries 60 miles per hour is no more dangerous than 50 on the regular highways. Perhaps we could get voluntary observation of such a rule and have acceptance noted in some way on license plates or drivers' licenses.
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The military reserve bill was passed by the House of Representatives last Friday and will now go to the Senate. It was only passed, however, by removing a rider that declared that there should be no segregation.
It seems to me futile for the Southern representatives and the Southern states to have taken this stand on the bill, for reserves are only really important when they are needed in the Army, and in the Army today segregation no longer exists.
As I have observed it, desegregation in the armed forces works very well. Negro and white in the USO clubs, on the street, and in the units of the Army are apparently oblivious of the difference in color. So the Southern states may have won a victory in keeping all mention of segregation out of this particular bill, but if the day comes when the reserves are really needed they will be used without segregation.