MAY 21, 1953
EN ROUTE TO JAPAN, Wednesday—I want to quote from a letter I have just received from a gentleman who cannot be accused of talking about something he knows nothing about.
Every now and then I am told, because I do not live in the west or own a ranch that is endangered by the new government toward conservation of our national resources, that I am talking without any knowledge of my subject. This gentleman whose letter I am going to quote is one of the large land owners in both New Mexico and Montana.
He writes me: "I am particularly pleased with your 'My Day' statement of April 16th in which you refer to the conservation of our national resources. This is something which we, as a nation, cannot afford to neglect for one single year, and I am dead opposed to the bill recently introduced by Congressman D'Ewart of Montana, H.R. 4023, which proposes to turn public lands over to state ownership and then to stockmen as perpetual leases. This bill must be killed, and I am hoping you will specially refer to it in your column."
I am referring to it, and again I am going to draw the attention of the people to what this kind of legislation means. We cannot trust private interests not to overgraze their lands, and that in the end means that we will have less animals and our land eventually will become a desert.
I have seen in foreign countries, notably in the Near East, what letting people graze their flocks wherever they want to, can do. There the goats crop every blade of grass down to the earth. No trees can get a start because the little young shoots are eaten before having a chance to grow.
Human nature being what it is, we cannot expect from individuals as great a concern for the good of the country as a whole as for their own particular desires of the moment. That is why government a good many years ago in this country became alerted to the need of conservation by the national government of our national resources.
The Congress has just handed over a large amount of oil, which should have belonged to all the people, to a few states. Now the threat has turned to our government-owned land, grazing land, forest preserves, national parks. These are of interest to the people of the country as a whole, not to just a few people.
I have seen no further mention of Mr. Hoover's suggestion that we turn over the few government-owned power producing plants to private ownership, but I have no doubt that work goes on in a quiet way to accomplish this and I hope the public will be alert enough to prevent this also. Those few government-owned power producing plants were set up as yardsticks to compel privately-owned corporations to do a good job in keeping the price of power down for the public as a whole; against the good of the many as against the gain of the few. We must protect the people's interest. That is a function of democratic government.