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

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NEW YORK—I had a letter the other day from Maria-Theresa, a very fine dancer in the classic tradition and a student of Isadora Duncan. Many of my young readers may not have known of Isadora Duncan, but she was a great dancer and had a desire to see American youth dance in a way that she felt was an expression of beauty and gave freedom to the soul.

Maria-Theresa is shocked by the developments at the present time and would give a great deal to see producers revive an interest in the classic dance. There is much truth in what she says, and I mention it here because as a nation we are apt to take up the fads of the moment.

These fads fade quickly, but the enduring things are the really beautiful developments, such as those Isadora Duncan was able to create in her day and perhaps, in a different way, Martha Graham creates today.

It was very pleasant, indeed, to see the sun come out Saturday morning. So I started taking my guests for a sightseeing tour, hoping that it would be really pleasant for swimming by the time we got back.

We have had so many rainy weekends this year that it really must be hard on people who can get to the country only on Saturdays and Sundays, just as it must be on people running summer resorts and summer attractions of different kinds.

I received in my mail a letter which I am going to quote here, since it does present a problem.

I know that it is considered wise to collect modest taxes from persons in the very low income groups in the belief that people will take a greater interest in their government if they have some financial stake in it. I am not familiar with the amount of taxes paid by those in the lower income brackets, but this letter sounds as though the payments were more substantial than I had supposed.

I think I have seen that the amount of revenue raised from taxes on incomes between $2,000 and $3,000 is not very large compared to the total collected on all incomes. So this woman who writes me may have a grievance that is valid and deserves consideration:

"I am a widow 62 years of age. My husband died 20 years ago after an illness of two years that used up all our resources. I was forced to find work at once. Fortunately, I am intelligent, adaptable, steady and willing, so I have been able to support myself, never earning over $2000. Defective hearing has determined the kind of work I could get.

"The high cost of living, together with unmerciful taxes, is causing an alarming amount of mental anguish and illness. Multiply my case by the large number of persons trying to exist on inadequate incomes and you have the answer to why mental institutions are filled to capacity and have long waiting lists.

"No one earning less than $3000 should be made to pay an income tax. My modest home needs paint and repairs. The money I should use to keep it from becoming a slum property is being taken in taxes. I cannot replace worn out home furnishings or appliances. I do not smoke, drink liquor or soda pop. Have no car and no telephone, do not visit beauty parlors.

"My blessings and comforts are: Naturally curly hair, a love of flowers and nature, an appreciation of all that is good and fine, a deep sense of gratitude to all those who have helped take man from the cave and give him the veneer of civilization that exists.

"No member of my family has ever been on relief. All we ask is consideration. Certainly it is evident that people in the $2000-$3000 income bracket cannot pay income taxes with impunity.

"The idea of a $600 exemption is preposterous and a sad reflection upon the intelligence of those in political command. A $3000 exemption would enable self-reliant people to be free of fear and hardships that are crippling."


(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 17, 1956

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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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.