MARCH 9, 1951
HYDE PARK, Thursday—Perhaps the most important domestic problem in many nations today is the effort to control inflation, and this is underlined by much of the discussion at the meeting of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in Chile. They also are stressing the allocation of raw materials. But since they have brought to the attention of so many the need for controlling inflation, it would seem that we, in this country, should give it more serious thought. I find that all people living on fixed pensions or small fixed incomes, such as teachers for instance, are really facing the problem of how they can live and eat properly. A man with a wife and two children can hardly get by on a salary around $5,000 a year in the teaching profession, particularly if he lives in a big city or the suburbs of a big city.
The general feeling of the public is that some of the more obvious things that might be done have not been done. I am no economist but I have been told by those who are that it might be possible to roll back prices as of last May.
We were told in December that prices would be stabilized at the February level. This is all very confusing to the general public and I think it is safe to say that the general feeling is that we have completely failed so far in keeping prices down. That being the case, the struggle going on with the labor representatives and management representatives gives to some people the feeling that perhaps the United Labor Policy Committee felt it could not comply with the demands to stabilize wages until it actually knew that prices would be stabilized.
After all, this group is responsible to its members and the vast numbers who make up our unions are the ones who are paying the prices and to whom the prices are more important than they may be to the management group.
The accusation made that labor's attitude has been brought about by the desire to control the allocation of labor to the armed services, or to other defense duties, does not seem of really great importance. Most of us know that many people will quite sincerely try to make these decisions as to how manpower shall be allocated, and labor will be interested, management will be interested, colleges will be interested, and government will be interested. There is no end to the people who will want to have a hand in these allocation problems. But, like so many other decisions that must be made by people in government positions it is not the fact that recommendations are made that matters. It is the fact that those who make the decisions should always use their best judgment.
Naturally, anyone in a responsible position should take into account any recommendations where he is going to make a loan. If that is the area in which he functions, or whether he is going to allocate manpower here or there, the important thing is that he should feel the responsibility of not giving way to pressure. This should be thoroughly understood. Then requests and recommendations are legitimate because the responsibility for decision is understood to lie with the official who has taken an oath to conduct his office to the best of his ability.
On Sunday on my television program over NBC, Michael DiSalle and James B. Carey will be my guests. I hope we will be able to clarify some of the questions that all of us have on our minds.