DECEMBER 5, 1957
MINNEAPOLIS—It has been brought to my attention by a citizen of the great state of California that we actually do not have a great quantity of surplus food in this country.
What we really have is a lack of consumption, and that lack is due to the fact that in many states, not just in California, there are people on public assistance who are paid so small an allowance for food that they cannot eat properly and there also are many whose pensions are so small that they don't get enough to eat.
I thought it had been planned long ago that our surplus food should be used to the best advantage in our own country. What could be better than distributing these foods to people who cannot afford to buy enough to eat properly in a land where we are constantly worried about our surplus production of foodstuffs? School lunches should also get consideration.
In the State of California persons receiving public assistance get $5 a week for food. The allowance for an old-age pensioner is $89 a month, which must provide food, shelter, clothing, amusement and other necessities for a decent life. When the cost of living goes up, neither the grants for public assistance nor for pensions moves up in ratio.
Actually, California is probably more generous than many of our other states, but we should make sure that there is no real lack of food for people in our own country. In providing for them we need not curtail what we do for those in other countries, which is badly needed.
But our first concern should always be our neighbors here at home, particularly those finding it difficult to help themselves. It would really be a saving to the government if it did not have to keep so much surplus food in storage.
As I scan our newspapers day after day, I am impressed by the fact that in order to reassure our own citizens, we tell them innumerable things about our defense preparations or lack of preparation which it would be just as well not to spread abroad.
Our people can trust our leaders if the information given them is of a more general kind. They do not need to know details of production. They do need to know, however, the problems that we are up against in the world and what are their particular jobs in meeting these problems.
But to hand not only our own people, but the people of the world, information through our newspapers which they might find it difficult to obtain otherwise seems to me foolish.
The fact is, we need money for basic research and we need to put this at a priority level, but there is nothing that we need to be in a panic over. Whatever we need to do, we can do. Let us have more confidence in ourselves and in our own ability to do whatever needs to be done.