JANUARY 21, 1957
SPOKANE, Wash.—I have just made a trip through the Middle West, at the time that the President was visiting the drought areas. I noticed one newspaper photograph which showed Secretary Benson in a farmer's field, leaning over and sifting some of the parched earth through his hands.
I am sure that the interest being shown in these areas will be deeply appreciated and probably give renewed courage to the farmers who must struggle through these difficult years. At best, they cannot remedy the damage in a short time; but they may get loans to tide them over, and they may even get rain which will help them in the immediate situation.
The long-term solution, however, is a Federal program which makes a study of the whole area and decides what needs to be done for the future. Otherwise these droughts will continue, the winds will come and blow away the topsoil, and when heavy rains do come there will be water erosion which will cause more damage. Some of this land should probably go back to the type of grass for grazing which once covered a large part of the area. In some places, shelter belts of trees should be planted. This should not be left to the individual farmer, but should be carried out on the same grand scale as was done before in another area of our country. The individual farmer must consent to have the trees planted on his land, but the work must be a Federal project.
It would help a great deal if we again had a labor force similar to that available in CCC camps in the depression years. I have often wondered if some of our difficulty with teenage delinquent boys could not be solved by fewer correctional institutions and the establishment instead of a new CCC camp organization. This would only be of value for boys from 15 to 20, of course, but if they did a good day's work and had a good educational program in connection with it, it would be difficult for them to have enough energy left to be seriously involved in any type of delinquency.
Such a program might be especially valuable for youngsters in our big cities, building them up physically, mentally and morally. It would help them to gain respect for the size of their country, and give them a feeling of satisfaction in the work they are doing to help meet a grave situation. They could make over the landscape of the drought areas of this nation.
It does not make sense that a country which has the knowledge of what should be done cannot find a way to do it, particularly when it might be possible to solve at the same time a part, at least, of a problem that is equally important to the nation. For every teenager who becomes a juvenile delinquent is a loss in manpower we can ill afford.