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PARIS, Sunday—At a dinner given by one of her Latin American colleagues for Mrs. Figueroa, Chairman of Committee Three, I had an opportunity the other night to talk for a few minutes with a French industrialist. His group owns woolen mills here, near Lille, and also in Rhode Island, so that he knows American practices as well as the French customs. As a consequence he has been doing some housing for his workers here, and he told me with pride that the houses are almost of the same standard as those in the United States.

At the same time, he told me they could not possibly charge their workers enough rent so that the houses could be amortized. They cannot do so because the wage is so low. The worker himself is helped by the French system of social security, which demands the payment of a family allowance, in addition to the wage by the employer, based on the number of children in the family. This adds about 35 percent to the cost of labor, which is paid by the employer. It seems to me the same old debatable question of whether you pay a man to encourage his having a large family or whether you pay him according to his skill and ability to produce.

Factors like these seem to me to indicate an economic system which is not sound. Housing, which is here a pure benevolence, is on an unsound basis, because few industries will build if they cannot at least come out even. Indeed, it looks to me as though the whole structure of wages and social security over here will someday have to go through a rather thorough overhauling.

According to the papers here, General MacArthur is no longer traveling around the country simply as World War II Pacific area hero, but is making a political, anti-present national administration tour. I have heard rumors that he might be on a possible Republican ticket in the next Presidential election, and newspaper articles here seem to substantiate those rumors.

It is rather early to be starting a political campaign. Yet it is a good thing, when someone who has spent his life as a soldier decides to become a politician, for the American people to have as long a time as possible to get to know the individual in his new role. We are hero-worshippers in the United States, and when a man has acquitted himself well in a military position he is a hero to most of us. But when he turns politician then he is just an ordinary human open to party criticism. Every action is under inspection from his earliest days, and the criticism is sometimes far from kindly. In General MacArthur's case it seems that the old soldier has certainly faded away, but the young political campaigner seems quite vigorous.

What an amusing twist it is, in the current truce negotiations in Korea, to have Shakespearean quotations become one of the issues at odds between the North Korean general and the United States general! Shakespeare had the art of saying things that are pertinent to many human situations, and in this particular case the North Korean gentleman seems to think the quotation either too pertinent or a veiled insult which he did not quite understand and therefore did not want repeated.

E. R.

(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1951, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 19, 1951

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052

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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.
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