The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK City, Wednesday—We came down to New York City from Hyde Park this morning to take part for the third time in the Hobby Lobby Program. Miss Thompson, Mrs. Gray and I, each had certain errands which we wished to do during the day and, in addition, I had a number of people to see, so the day has been very full.

A clipping has been sent me from a Southern newspaper which asks what I would consider an adequate standard of living and whether I would favor putting enough members of the same family on the payroll of state, municipality or nation, until such standard of living has been reached. The question is evidently based on my statement that, while I did not believe in building up a family bureaucracy in government service, I did not think a married woman should be barred from it simply because another member of the family was in government service.

If their joint incomes do not exceed the sum which has been set as an adequate salary for the head of a family in that particular place, then two members of the same family are entitled to employment. A certain sum can be set for the average family as an adequate living wage in a given locality and I think that the combined salaries of not more than two members of the family should reach that sum.

There is a further paragraph, however, in this same clipping, which shows, I think, a lack of knowledge about government salaries. This is the paragraph: "It has been our opinion for quite a time, although we have never got around to more than muttering in our lack of whiskers about it, that the families which the public payroll should be protected from most assiduously would be those families whose head or hindquarters could not provide a living for the constituent members. Why try to make up for the mental or physical deficiencies of the original employee by cluttering up the governmental premises with additional incompetents?"

A government salary does not necessarily represent an incompetent individual. Salaries are low in government circles. There are compensations. Increases in salary come at stated intervals where they are in Civil Service. They are more secure and they usually carry pensions. But, if you happen to be interested in some line of work which takes you into government service, don't expect to receive a salary commensurate with what you might expect for the same work in private industry.

This is the reason why at least two members of every family in government service usually work. When they are young it may be the husband and wife, when they are older it may be either the husband and wife, or a child who stays at home to help the parents. You'll never be rich, but you will have a measure of security.

The newspapers these days are most depressing to read. I hardly dare think of the implications both for Europe and for ourselves of the last few days' occurences in the field of foreign affairs.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 24, 1939

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.