AUGUST 2, 1961
HYDE PARK—It was appalling to read in Tuesday's newspapers that questions for a June examination for physicians seeking licenses to practice were given to four candidates who paid $2,500 each for this advance information.
How could one trust a doctor whose standards of personal honesty were so low?
And how can we have in the bureau that prepares such examinations an individual who can be corrupted in this manner?
It is this kind of thing that makes people say that our standard of morals has gone down an alarming extent in this country.
Someone wrote to me the other day that they thought perhaps it was more important for the people of our country to have an "ebullient spirit" than for us to be sure that we were on a par with the Soviet Union in military preparedness.
I am quite sure that we should keep a balance in our research and production of modern weapons, but I am even more convinced that unless we manage to raise the standards of personal integrity among our young people we will be on the way downhill as a nation.
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Two of the young prisoners who came over from Cuba to present the Castro case for tractors decided not to return with their comrades in arms and have defected. On the occasions when these prisoners talked with our Tractors for Freedom Committee all of them assured us that they were going back and must go back in order to be sure that they were not endangering their fellow prisoners.
Let us hope that the defection of the two will not mean that others will be held responsible for their action. But one finds it difficult to know just what Premier Castro will do.
It was interesting to me that it was the two youngest ones who did not have the courage to go back, and that none of the older men broke their word. It is again a question of integrity, and I wonder whether what I deplore at home is not spreading out in a wider field. This may seem an unimportant point to stress, but I am beginning to feel that it is basic to government, to business, and to all of our social life.
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We are now engaged in a mayoralty campaign in New York City. Two of the candidates, a Republican and a Democrat, are nominated and backed by party machines. One, the incumbent, Mayor Robert F. Wagner, has had the courage in the past few months to break with the machine.
There is no question that during Mayor Wagner's term of office there has been laxity in supervision and administration. Some people say that Mr. Wagner has been the victim of his own good qualities, namely, that being honest personally he found it very difficult to be suspicious not only of his own appointees but of holdovers from past administrations.
Be that as it may, I think no one will deny his personal honesty, his good intentions and his effort to get good appointees. They will question his judgment and his lack of decision in certain situations in the past, but in view of his present unequivocal statements on many things most important to the city in the future, it seems vital that he be renominated on September 7.
I feel sure that the Democratic bosses in New York City are not too happy over the way things are going at present or they would not allow their candidate, State Controller Arthur Levitt, to be so thin-skinned as to call Mayor Wagner a "liar" for having said that Mr. Levitt accepted the designation of the regular organization to run only on the condition that he would get a judgeship if he lost. Is it wrong to have been seeking a judgeship? Mr. Levitt seems to think so.
Of course, it might indicate that he did not expect to find it easy to win reelection statewide as a Democrat in 1962 because he did not believe that the Democratic machine for which he is now the candidate in New York City can successfully carry the election in the state in 1962. This might really be good judgment on Mr. Levitt's part, because I doubt very much whether the present machine organization can carry the state.
I think our hope lies in electing a strong, reform mayor who will be backed by the reform elements and who will then have the strength to build a new and strong state organization. Certainly, the present one in the state is not going to win any elections for anyone from now on, and Mr. Levitt's heated accusation only points up the weakness of the group from which he has accepted the nomination.