JANUARY 3, 1956
HYDE PARK—A newspaper headline about Premier Bulganin, the other morning, made me smile to myself. It stated that the Russian leader sees the year of 1955 as a turning point in easing tensions in the world and also feels that this is largely due to the Soviet Union's efforts for peace.
It must be a wonderful thing to be able to fool oneself so completely and, apparently with a straight face, to be able to tell the Supreme Soviets that all one's efforts have been successfully directed toward peace. I suppose they honestly feel that the speeches they made against the United States all through Asia were directed toward creating better feeling throughout the Western world and reassuring the United States that we could count on Soviet friendship.
Bulganin's speech, of course, is all ridiculous nonsense, as the Premier must know. But that is one of the interesting things about Communist training. You are evidently able to make yourself believe anything you want at a certain time: and if it is completely opposite to what you were told to believe two days ago, that makes no difference. You accept it with exactly the same faith as the Fundamentalists have accepted some of the early stories of the Old Testament which were meant as stories for us to interpret and not to be literally accepted without thought.
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I see that a group of powerful Democrats in the House of Representatives, not to be outdone by the Republicans, are working on a tax cut which will be an advantage to the "little fellow" but will still not prevent the prospect for a balanced budget. These hopes, I fear, are largely being formulated in the hope of having some effect on the people in an election year.
I think it would perhaps be better for us to be realistic and accept the fact that we have a big debt to liquidate; that we have been operating in a period of inflation: and that we really need to put some brakes on ourselves and perhaps even accept a little heavier taxation rather than demand a little less. Yet I fully realize that most people feel they are at present paying far heavier taxes than they should pay. Retail sales in the stores, however, would not indicate that any of our people are really suffering, except for the one-third of our population who still do not have the necessities of life. The rest of us would probably do well to accept the fact that a little curtailment in expenditure would be good for the country's economic stability.
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It must be a great experience for Admiral Richard Byrd to return to his old camp at Little America, and I can well imagine his announcing that he was "mayor" of this place. Some of his old companions are with him, and one hopes he will not have any long and hard experiences as he had before—because, while he certainly does not look his 67 years, it must be rather a strain on him to have to undergo the rigors of the Antarctic.