FEBRUARY 13, 1961
NEW YORK—This country is getting some plain speaking at last on our economic situation. Secretary of Labor Arthur J. Goldberg, who is touring the country at the President's request, made the statement in Indiana that we "are in a full-fledged recession. I think it is time to say this and say it in no uncertain terms." He added, however, that the country could be restored to full employment and prosperity if government, business and labor would act together.
This is undoubtedly true, but the photograph in the paper of the secretary interviewing some men at an unemployment center in Chicago is reminiscent of the days of the depression in the Thirties. The expression on the men's faces reminded me of a drawing I still have hanging in my cottage at Hyde Park, done by a fine artist, of an unemployed youth sitting on a bench in those days when no work was available. We have a few more safeguards now, but we also need a little more real understanding of the underlying reason for this recession.
I hope the President will take some opportunity to speak to the nation, explaining the real causes and the importance of avoiding inflation, but the need, nevertheless, for taking certain measures to meet basic causes. If we are to do the necessary things which the President urges in health and education, then the people must understand that we have to sacrifice certain luxuries for the next few years in order to pay for the essentials that keep a nation great. Such understanding will also help us go through a period when economic changes are taking place which require the cooperation of government, industrial leaders and labor in order that no individual sections bear the whole brunt of the changeover.
Although these changes are inevitable, we have not been prepared for the fact that they may require some time and some thought to make them smoothly and to distribute equally the burden of the change.
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It was of great interest to me the other day to read in the newspapers of the agreement with the West Indies Federation under which the Federation will re-occupy about 80 percent of the land granted for military bases in World War II. It is significant of the rapid changes coming about in the world that the Federation, which represents a number of British Caribbean islands, signed the treaty as an independent state "armed with a letter of entrustment from Britain." Shortly, the West Indies will become independent and remain a part of the great commonwealth of the United Kingdom.
The United States has not used the land which it is now returning to the Federation. But those who remember the early days of World War II will recall how significant this arrangement was for us and for Great Britain. In return for these bases in the Caribbean, which meant so much to our ability to guard this area, we sent 50 destroyers to Great Britain to take part in the defense of the beleaguered area. We have retained for 17 years, with the privilege of renewal, some small areas which our government regards as vital links in the defense against hostile submarine movements in the Caribbean, and also to provide support for the Cape Canaveral missile-launching programs.
I was particularly glad to see that the new treaty also contained an agreement whereby the U. S. would aid the West Indies economic and social development to the extent of about $2,300,000 in the current fiscal year. This should be valuable to the people of these islands, whose economic situation in most cases has been precarious. Mineral deposits within the rent-free area which we retained for the bases remain in the hands of the territories themselves. Members of U. S. forces will not be subject to passport or visa requirements, but contractors working on the bases must observe employment practices current in the islands.