DECEMBER 9, 1958
NEW YORK—I read with great interest the report of a speech made by General Arthur E. Summerfield to the National Association of Manufacturers here in which he is quoted as saying that the President would submit legislation to "protect our working people and businessmen, large and small, from exploitation by unscrupulous and corrupt union bosses."
No one will quarrel with the desire to control "corrupt union bosses," but if legislation is going to be necessary perhaps we had better also enact some laws that would control "corrupt political bosses" and any other people who gain power and use it badly.
Actually, it seems to me, the best way to clean up bad practices in the labor unions is for the labor unions to do it themselves. They are the ones who elect their officials. And they are the ones who can refuse to elect anyone who is not capable of trust and has not the necessary attributes of honesty and intelligence.
It is interesting to read that the Administration is asking for control of how union dues shall be spent. Evidently some people in Washington feel that these dues have been spent solely to elect Democrats and that, therefore, unions should be prohibited from the use of these funds in any campaign.
This thinking, however, might be a very good thing, because it might force us to think out a way of financing political campaigns by government resources, which would be fair to any political party.
It is perfectly obvious that if you limit the way money is spent by labor unions—money that has come into union treasuries by dues—you also will have to limit how businesses spend their money in campaigns.
Unions are ruled by the same laws that affect individuals and businesses, but the intention seems to be to make these laws different for unions from what they are for the rest of us.
This would be unfair. But if we choose to go about regulating [unclear term marked] expenses and paying for them through government sources, we could eliminate improper use of anyone's money in campaigns.
We are certainly preparing early to make economies in our Republican and Democratic national conventions—our newspapers already tell us that there is a formal agreement that these two conventions shall be held in the same city in order to cut expenses.
Our Mayor Robert Wagner has invited both political parties to come to New York, and there seems to be no dearth of invitations from other cities. According to my newspaper, however, Chicago will be chosen.
I don't know why Chicago should be chosen above all the rest—though there must be some very good reasons—for it seems to me that a change to some other city would be much more entertaining for the delegates. We have had so many conventions in Chicago.
True, it is nearer to the center of the country than is New York, and I can understand the feeling of those who must come from the Western states that it is unfair to make them travel all the way to the East. But since I live in New York I feel that New York has a great deal to offer, not only during the convention itself but as a center for art and music and drama. It is still the No. 1 tourist attraction of our country.