NOVEMBER 17, 1944
WASHINGTON, Thursday—One of the sad things about being in the White House is the fact that so many people mistakenly believe that living here makes it possible for you to further any project in which they happen to be interested.
People come to me with touching stories, and I would like nothing better than to be able to wave a wand and change the rules and regulations under which government actions are taken. When they realize that I have no influence, they then place their whole trust in my putting the matter before the President, who they believe, certainly can wave a magic wand.
Alas and alack! If the President did, the whole fabric of orderly government could easily fall to pieces. Sometimes the kind and individual acts of President Lincoln are cited as examples. People forget that the Washington of Lincoln's day was a very much smaller place than the Washington of 1944. Nevertheless, it is sometimes a heartbreaking experience, and there have been many days when I wished that I really had the magic wand attributed to the White House occupants.
Yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Florence Kerr brought to the White House the members of the National Advisory Committee on Child Care, and also some of her staff and the members of Congress interested in administering funds under the Lanham Act for the service projects in the Federal Works Agency. Of course, most of us know that there is never any question in Congress about the appropriation of money needed for munitions of war, or for the buildings in which they are to be made.
The people who work in these buildings, however, and who make the ships or planes or guns or ammunition, still have personal lives which have to be lived. They cannot shed their families simply because they are needed in a new locality. They cannot go off to work and leave their homes unless their children are cared for. People may not understand that money is necessary to take care of the children, to provide recreation, to prevent illness or, when it comes, to assure proper care and treatment. The result is that to get money for these services is far harder than to get it for the more obvious, clean-cut making of munitions of war. Yet, without these services, people simply could not meet the demands made upon workers at the present time.
All this was stated by some of the people in Congress, and in reports made by members of the advisory committee on the extent of work accomplished and the results achieved in various parts of the country. Out of the conference I gathered the strong impression that communities should find out now about what was being done and what was still needed, and determine what they wanted to do now and in the future. If proper provision cannot be made with local resources alone, the citizens must begin to educate the state and national representatives on the nature of these needs as they arise both now and in the future.