MARCH 14, 1962
NEW YORK—Late Sunday afternoon found me back back home, and since then I have been desperately trying to catch up with all the various things that were put off for attention on my return.
One thing that I was very interested in finding on my desk was Mayor Wagner's statement designed to "expand job opportunities for minorities by directing city agencies to take positive and affirmative steps in implementing a nondiscriminatory policy on all contracts for goods and services paid for by the City of New York."
This is in line with national and, I hope, state policy and will mean that there will be a real effort made to see that contracts with the city live up to a nondiscriminatory policy in employment.
The Commission on Inter-Group Relations will administer this program and it will really have some backing now with which to achieve its objective, which is the elimination "of prejudice, discrimination and bigotry based on race, creed, color or national origin."
This is a concrete step toward achieving greater equality in employment where the city itself is concerned, and the city's business is sufficiently important so that it ought to have a distinct effect also on private employment practices.
I noticed a report in one of our metropolitan papers on Tuesday which tells us that the city has made "important strides in recent years towards providing equal rights and opportunities for its million Negro residents" but which goes on to say that our colored people still do not enjoy equal rights and opportunities.
This is, of course, true because while laws and policies of government on all levels are absolutely essential to bring about needed changes the implementation depends greatly on the attitude of people, and that, in turn, depends on the individual's ability to eliminate consciousness of color.
At first this can only be done by a real effort but it can eventually become a matter of habit. And I hope someday people will find it natural to treat all their neighbors just as people without recognition of discrimination because of color or race.
I am glad to see that there is at last some discussion out in the open as to whether we in the United States can have disarmament without disastrous results to our economy. This argument has been projected time and again as the reason for not doing anything about disarmament. It was said that such action would give us a depression—it would throw innumerable people out of work. It was argued, therefore, that whatever we might say we knew that we really did not want disarmament.
Now the United Nations' expert committee has published its report on this question and has the temerity to announce that the results would be vastly beneficial to the whole of humanity.
This seems, of course, to the lay mind a very easy thing to understand. When we are spending money on military buildup and military preparation a good part of that money is wiped out by nonproductive materials and materials that become obsolete before they are used.
Vast areas of the world are in need of things which would make everyday living more comfortable. It is, of course, true that these areas of the world have to be helped to achieve a position where they can afford to buy. But this is now possible to do since into most areas of the world that are in need of goods and services we are now putting large sums of money to help them create earning capacity which, in turn, means a greater buying power. Material for clothing, house furnishings, agricultural implements and innumerable other things can be used if the buying power can be produced.
This can certainly be done, and so we need not fear any longer that our negotiators on disarmament are being held back by the fear of ruining the economy of their own country.
Planning is essential, as is the preparation for change-over from producing one type of thing to producing something entirely different. But this can be done and it is encouraging to everyone of us who hopes for peace in the world.
We know that there will be increased economic competition in the event of disarmament, but in the past our know-how and our initiative have helped us to meet that economic competition very well. I think we can hope that we can still do this.
This does not mean that there are not political and other major obstacles that will have to be overcome, but it does mean that we can be more hopeful on one score at least that this age-old fear of peace because of economic difficulties may now be allayed.