MAY 11, 1959
NEW YORK—The other day I read the final installment in a series of eight syndicated newspaper articles by Samuel Lubell in which he gives his findings about the feeling of the American people at the grass roots. Among the people he has visited, says Lubell, the average person believes that we cannot retreat from Berlin and therefore President Eisenhower is the best person to handle the Berlin situation. On the other hand, Lubell explains the rise in the President's popularity and the fall in the popularity of the Republican party by saying that most of the people he has talked with are dissatisfied with economic conditions.
Mr. Lubell feels that many people in the U.S. would even accept war, but that most of them do not think of it as a nuclear war. This attitude, of course, is the natural reaction of people who never believe that anything is going to happen to them until it actually happens.
It is also interesting to find people trusting the President in the situation of Berlin and almost hostile to him on economic questions. Lubell quotes the unemployed as frequently saying: "Eisenhower isn't worried about me," and he concludes that at the present time an election would put the Democrats in power. But we are not yet at election time, and much may happen before 1960 rolls around.
For myself, I would like to feel that we were beginning to discuss what policies should be laid before the people on the questions that are not likely to be settled before 1960. I think it is more important to look into the future and decide what new thinking we can present when our opportunity comes than it is to deplore what is happening or is not happening at the present time.
I came back to Detroit Thursday afternoon, and in the evening spoke on a TV program. Friday afternoon I went out to Ecorse to hold a press conference. That is the place where the Church of the Resurrection, under whose auspices I spoke Friday night, has a mission, and the meeting on Friday night was to raise money towards building a church in Ecorse.
An editorial in a Detroit newspaper on Friday made me realize that New York is not the only city in financial difficulties. The Mayor of Detroit asked the legislature for constitutional authority for the city and other Michigan municipalities to levy income and excise taxes. The newspaper was a little appalled by this suggestion that the citizens of Detroit might pay an additional city tax and at the same time their share of an additional state tax. The final conclusion that the paper comes to, of course, is that the pleasant way out would be for everyone to make economies.
Nobody openly says to cut out graft, but this is one form of economy which could be exercised in almost every city. They do say that there are overlapping functions which could be adjusted between city, state and county. I am sure there are ways to economize, but of course it is always easier to add new taxes than to get rid of those that exist.