JANUARY 20, 1944
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—One of the things that I particularly wanted to mention in relation to our Social Security program is the fact that we have no nationwide social insurance measures to protect American families against disabilities and sickness. The Social Security Board believes that health and medical care have an important place in any comprehensive and adequate program of social security.
It is true that in the past half century we have raised the standard of physical well-being and extended the average length of life, but that does not mean that there are not many parts of the country where people have just as little chance of survival as they had 50 years ago. This is especially true of rural areas and, of course, it is obvious that it is always truer among the poor than among the rich.
It is significant to note that the general death rate among boys and men of working age has been found to be nearly twice as high for unskilled laborers as for professional men, managers, proprietors and officials.
The draft showed us our failures where health is concerned. It seems to me that it also shows us that we needed unemployment insurance operated on a federal basis, as well as public assistance grants which would be higher in the states with lower than average per capita income. The reason for this is that the low income groups can neither afford medical care nor a proper diet. Nor can they afford decent housing and clothing. All of this contributes to lower health standards.
It may seem to some people that when a country is in a war, it should not assume greater social burdens. But unless one does assume them, the war will not seem to have brought many people much that is worth fighting for.
I must say a few words about the meetings in New Brunswick, N.J., Monday night. The Alumnae House of the New Jersey College for Women, where we dined, was the home of Mr. James Neilson. He left it to the college completely furnished, and it is a most delightful, homelike club house. It cannot help but have a lasting influence on the girls. The bond rally in the city was also very successful and I particularly enjoyed the music. The Coast Guard Quartette sang. The Rutgers College Glee Club, Madame Nancy Ness, a Norwegian singer with a beautiful voice who also spoke very movingly, and Ina Claire Gillman, a little girl of nine with a very sweet voice, made this part of the evening memorable.
Yesterday morning, at the Office of War Information, I had the pleasure of making a recording for New Zealand with the Hon. Mr. Walter Nash, Mr. Deems Taylor, Mr. Paul Robeson, Mr. Putnam and various others. Afterwards I went through the building and had a glimpse of their work, and paid a short visit to the ANZAC Club.