APRIL 17, 1957
LOS ANGELES—I wonder if the Administration and the Postmaster General of the United States have any idea how far-reaching is the disturbance created by the stoppage of mail deliveries and the closing of post offices on Saturdays.
Why out here in Los Angeles, I found a letter in the mail saying, "Hope our serious conditions can be overcome, such as we read in the morning paper. No delivery of mail on Saturday, and maybe no old-age pension check, as my husband and I are depending on it and will miss ours, as it is all we have to depend on."
Failure to get their pension checks on Saturday perhaps is of much greater importance than the Postmaster General may think. I wonder, too, if in a couple of weeks the pile-up of mail will not be so great that we will hear suddenly that extra people must be hired, and at overtime rates.
In many post offices employees were laid off this past weekend. They were temporary people hired because permanent employees had not been allowed and the work could not have been done adequately without extra help.
These temporary employees—and in rural areas, the rural free carriers—were cut off and received no pay which, in some cases, meant the loss of $12 in a weekly check and, in others, a loss of $20.
That may not seem a great deal to the Postmaster General, but it adds up to a large amount when you think of what happened over the entire United States.
This is a businessman's Administration and appointments may be made for a political reason, but they also are made from people who supposedly are good at management.
It has been reported that during the past year efforts were made to reduce personnel by introducing machines into some post offices. But the machines had not been tested sufficiently and it was discovered they did not do the job. So stamps were wasted and the machines were scrapped.
That may be one reason we are in our present difficulties in the Post Office Department. But the reason, whatever it may be, never will be adequate when people are really inconvenienced as they are at the present time, for then they do not listen to reason. They are highly annoyed and this annoyance is reflected in political attitudes.
While on the subject of troubles in government, I also would like to mention that, as a business Administration, we do not seem to be doing as well as expected in administering the Virgin Islands. I have a letter from someone who lives on the islands who says:
"We had thought that great progress toward self-government would follow the appointment of a Virgin Islands Governor, but the clock has been turned back....
"March 31, 1957 marked the 40th year of the island's transfer to the United States, but the present organic act which was signed in 1954 gives us less self-government than we enjoyed in 1936. Every major decision in the islands must be referred to Washington.
"It is natural that the Virgin Islands would resent their present status when we see the great strides being made by other colonial peoples throughout the world, even in the neighboring West Indies."
What is happening in Washington that we go backward instead of forward in granting self-government to people? We are opposed to colonialism, but in this case we seem to be no better than other colonial powers—and we are not supposed to be a colonial power.
It is time, I think, for public opinion to take a look at what we are doing in the Virgin Islands. They now should be ready for the same amount of freedom in government that we granted Puerto Rico. We disapprove of the failures of other colonial powers, but we seem to have forgotten to examine our own responsibility.