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

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NEW YORK, Wednesday—It has just been drawn to my attention that the American Medical Association, in a report issued in 1940, admitted that families with incomes of less than $3000 a year could not cover all of their sickness bills without assistance if they had to pay these on the usual fee basis. Almost 70 percent of American families had incomes under $3000 in the prosperous year of 1945, when employment was at its height.

Two Congressional bills which deal with public health are coming up shortly. One is the National Health Insurance and Public Health Bill. In a future column I will go into this in detail because I think it is one of the most important bills for the health of the nation which has ever been before Congress, and the people of the country should know as much about it as possible.

The second one is the Taft-Smith-Ball-Donnell Bill, which is based on a completely different philosophy. Sponsored by Sen. Robert A. Taft, it is based on the old theory of giving charity to the needy, and I think it suffers from the drawbacks which go with nearly all public assistance.

People lose some of their self-respect when they are forced to accept assistance after investigation and proof that they are eligible because they are needy. There may always be some people in our nation who have to accept charity, but many of us hope that the number will grow less and less as the years go by and as the democratic system operates more successfully.

The National Health Insurance and Public Health Bill, on the other hand, is based on the theory that, by joint undertakings, people of moderate incomes may be enabled to have adequate health care within their ability to pay.

* * *

Yesterday morning I was taken to Nicolaus Koni's studio to see a carving in wood which had been intended as a gift for my husband. Mr. Koni served in the war and, though he suffered a back injury, he is one of the fortunate ones who can return to his own work. Being in the armed services, however, means that over a period of time he has lost touch and must begin again to create interest in his work. I was very glad of this opportunity to see what he has in his studio. There is a completed head of Gen. Omar Bradley which seemed to me to be excellent. And I noticed a charming head of a young girl.

Mr. Koni hopes that the "Pieta" which he offered me in memory of my husband may be used in the United Nations headquarters as a reminder of the human rights of all individuals. I have, therefore, asked the Secretary–General if he will send someone to find out whether this very interesting wood carving can be accepted for the United Nations' future home.

There is real feeling in this carving. The sufferings of humanity are emphasized in a human figure supported by a gentle and sorrowing figure which seems to symbolize all sorrowing and pitying motherhood.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 17, 1947

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.