MARCH 21, 1959
TEL-AVIV, Israel—It has been brought to my attention that not long ago there was a hearing in Chicago before Senator Paul H. Douglas on the establishment of a "Youth Conservation Corps." At this session Raymond M. Hilliard, director of the Department of Welfare in Cook County, Illinois, said "juvenile delinquency, unemployment and rising relief costs are among the most pressing and depressing problems today." Prof. Charles Shireman of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration said that he had "computed the cost to the public of a juvenile delinquent to be $25,000."
Juvenile delinquency, it seems to me, could be greatly combatted by the establishment of something similar to our Civilian Conservation Corps camps of the depression days. If you look at the results of the work done in depression years by the CCC camps you will soon find out that it increased enormously the value of the land through soil conservation, forestry work, and the building of many necessary improvements in small towns and villages which they could not afford to do without the type of labor furnished by what has now been suggested as a "youth conservation corps."
One of the principal benefits of the CCC camps was that our young people learned about their own country. Boys from the slums of the big cities found themselves looking at the mountains in Glacier Park, for instance, and though they frequently did not understand what the mere sight was doing for them it was a tremendously emotional experience.
The size and importance of their country, its many resources, its great variety of attraction and natural phenomena suddenly changed their whole concept of the world in which they live and which belonged to them.
This might well be the salvation of many a juvenile delinquent who has never before sensed the greatness of his country. Not to be behind bars, but to be a part of the whole United States in itself might well be a factor in the rehabilitation of a young man.
As far as juvenile delinquency goes, there can be no question that rehabilitation is far more important than any kind of punishment. Mr. Robert Rosenbluth, Assistant Director of Cook County Department of Welfare, knows this full well, for most of his life has been spent in an effort to rehabilitate youngsters who at some point in their lives have gone wrong.
So, those of us who are interested in the youth of America should, I think, study carefully today the establishment of a youth conservation corps. It seems to me it would be far cheaper than adding to the bricks and mortar that would make new prisons and reformatories.
I have had a few letters from people who feel that I belittled the value of the small farm in America in something I wrote recently.
One farm wife writes: "Farming is not just a money-making measure. It is a clean, good way of life, but with all its risks and insecurity the farmer should be compensated more for his efforts."
This is true. Too little compensation goes to the small farmer, and too much to the middle man. I was not questioning the value of the small, independent, one-family farm. I was suggesting that perhaps today to be able to compete in the national market there would have to be more organization and work on a cooperative basis. There must be more cooperative buying and selling, more cooperative use of machinery, otherwise the competition of the large, commercial farming interests is practically impossible to meet.
I want to see the people, who enjoy this way of life, stay on the farm and feel rewarded in every way. But I think we need to give our whole farming problem some new thinking, and I would be glad of a truly imaginative, world-minded Secretary of Agriculture.