JANUARY 25, 1958
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Venezuela seems to have ousted her dictator, Marcos Perez Jimenez.
One cannot help but feel that these sudden revolutions and departures from palaces in the middle of the night and takeoffs in airplanes for unknown destinations are a bit in the nature of a comic opera. But actually, I suppose, it is part of the growing pains that every country must go through until its people are educated in sufficient numbers to establish a stable form of government and to have some real control over their government.
Venezuela is a rich country and in the leadership there must be well-educated and forward-looking people who want to bring about social reforms and a more stable and equitable society.
The type of exploitation of people that can go on in present-day conditions, however, does give the opportunity for those who desire power to acquire it, and so a few people probably would rather preserve the present status.
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Chicago newspapers on Thursday had an account of an explosion and a fire destroying a four-story apartment building in the area of town where a good many of the colored population live. Similar fires have occurred in other large cities lately, and I wonder if there are not some precautions which should be taken to prevent them.
I think these disasters point to the need for more Federal aid for building. Perhaps some of our overcrowded areas would become less crowded if we went about slum clearance a little more rapidly than we have been doing lately.
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The Eisenhower budget does not promise much in the way of social responsibility by the Federal government, so I doubt whether there will be much done in the way of housing.
A suggestion made for returning certain responsibilities to the states, without coupling the move with any increase in revenue for the state from the Federal income tax, means that the weakest area of our population—the blind, the aged, little and crippled children—will have such supports as they have had in the past disappear completely.
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States will not pick up a responsibility which they have grown to feel belongs to the Federal government. There seems to be a complete lack of understanding on the part of the Federal government that leadership as well as military supremacy is required to make the United States a showcase for democracy and keep a following in a free world.
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After trying unsuccessfully to reach Chicago on Tuesday, we tried again on Wednesday and this time we were successful. There was a two-hour wait in the airport before we started and then a half-hour wait before we took off as we sat in the plane and wondered what the next announcement from our pilot would be.
This delay in Idlewild was a surprise for everyone in New York, for in the city we had blue skies. But at the airport the fog was low and dense. Chicago was clear, but there were so many planes coming in that we waited for another half hour after landing before getting a free gate.
There was no time for dressing, as our hosts for the evening were waiting at the airport and I realized that our hostess must have changed her dinner hour many times. She gave us a good meal, however, and we reached the forum, where I was to speak, in good time.
Wednesday night we spent at the Sheraton-Blackstone Hotel, which now seems to me quite familiar and homelike when I am in Chicago.
We were off for Grand Rapids Thursday and I looked forward with pleasure to seeing an old friend at lunch, Mrs. Dorothy McAllister, one of the past associate chairmen of the Democratic National Committee.