APRIL 16, 1958
NEW YORK—I was interested to see that the President urged Congress to push the jobless aid bill, calling for prompt action on increasing the period of unemployment benefits.
This will, of course, make heavier demands on the states, and so it is not surprising to see that the states are asking Congress to do something about an economic situation in the country which the Administration would like to feel does not exist.
I can remember back in another Republican Administration when we kept hearing that prosperity was waiting for us just around the corner and, therefore, we were besought to buy to bring this slow-moving lady around that corner. Somehow the lady never came!
There is no question but what today the jobless aid bill must be passed, but the states are right in asking Congress to act on the slump more fundamentally. The Administration, I think, has to do something more fundamental than giving 13 weeks more of jobless aid.
Those who do not know what it means to lose a job that has been held five, 10 or 20 years, with children in the family and purchases of such things as a house, a refrigerator, a washing machine, can't readily understand the plight of some of the unemployed. You have to see the people whose income is cut in half overnight to know what it means in human terms.
I don't have to be told, for my memory is long, but if I wanted to learn right now, I would go to the automobile plants, and I would walk through streets, stopping and talking with some of the women who can't keep up their time payments and feed the children. It is a grim situation, and those of us who are not experiencing it as yet had better understand what it means, for the history of doing nothing to reach the basic causes of a depression such as this is something we can remember very well if we lived through the years from 1929 to 1933. We have some cushions now, but they are not enough to get at the root of the matter.
Who are the people who have been guiding our economic well-being these past few years? Big businessmen for the most part. Perhaps we never can stand too long a period of big business control of government. A little of it may be good to bring back the balance now and then, but with too much of it we somehow get all out of balance in the other direction.
Congress has returned from its Easter recess, and one of the first things it had better devote its time to is fundamental ways of changing our present economic trends. If these trends continue much longer, the Soviets are going to have a powerful argument in favor of communism and against free enterprise.