APRIL 23, 1946
HYDE PARK, Monday—The majority of the House of Representatives, in their handling of the OPA bill, certainly thought only of the immediate future. And that is, I am afraid, what a great many people in our country seem to be doing at the present time. The House majority ignored the polls which have been taken recently, almost all of which show that people are anxious to have price controls continue, and are even willing to be curtailed again on a rationing basis if they can feel that they are helping to feed starving peoples throughout the world.
Paul Porter, price administrator, and Chester Bowles, stabilization director, have both made statements pointing out what the House's action will mean as to price controls and also what will result from the reduction in subsidies. The overall effect will be a rise in the cost of living. This, of course, affects the poor far more than the rich. For that reason, I have always approved of the subsidy method of keeping prices down on things which are consumed by the average household.
There are many people, however, who have never been in full accord with the subsidy program and who disagree with it on principle. If this House bill goes through the Senate as passed by the House, we will soon know whether subsidies have been helpful or not in keeping down the cost of living. We will know, too, whether we have discarded too soon the regulations which saw us through the war and which perhaps should help us to get through the uncertain period when peace exists in theory but when the results of the war are still so evident on every side.
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It is hard for the average person to think of the world situation and of the effect of what we do here at home, not only next year but five years from now, and not only in our own country but throughout the world. That kind of thinking we expect from our government, from our representatives.
Many of them try to gauge what the people of their districts will think about each individual question which comes before them. But I have always felt that the representatives of the people have a second obligation—namely, the obligation to go back to their constituents and tell them how they see a situation whenever they feel that their constituents are not seeing it as they themselves are enabled to see it in Washington because of their greater opportunities for wider information.
If this service is not rendered to their constituents, then the people are entirely dependent on the information which comes to them through the printed word and the radio. To judge correctly what you read and what you hear, you must know the influences that lie behind the individuals writing and speaking. To understand the influences that play upon these fields of communication requires a very broad education, and I wonder whether our government representatives can as yet rely on our present educational system to furnish the people with the necessary educational tools. If not, the men who are elected to office must furnish this information to their people back home.