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

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NEW YORK—I have just received the trade magazine of the Campbell Soup Company, on the cover of which is an editorial the author asked me to read.

The author evidently thinks that we need some persuasion in this country to prove to ourselves that freedom has value. I would have thought this was something which had been established at the time of our Revolution, but to equate freedom with any form of economy seems to be a false evaluation of our basic belief.

I would like to take his statements and try to disprove them, for I do not think it wise to tie ourselves to any one specific economic theory to meet every situation, and to tie that to the basic concept of freedom seems to me even more impossible.

The gentleman begins with this statement: "Under socialism or communism, you must work for the government because the government is the only employer."

Here at once he has made socialism and communism the same thing. There are a great many Socialists who would disspute this and who are indignant because the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia are trying to do this very thing. There is no question, however, but that under communism the government is the only employer.

Second, he says: "Under socialism or communism you must buy everything from the government because the government makes and supplies everything. There is little or no choice in price or quality."

I would say the second statement is untrue.

Third, "Under socialism and communism, the government plans everything, including who will do what kind of work and how many will do it. The government decides which, if any, of our children is to be educated."

Under communism, the government does do planning, but it does not decide who will be educated. That depends on the individual's ability to learn. The government provides more and more universal opportunity for education, but tests are given for ability all along the line.

Four, "Under socialism or communism, there is no place to invest the money you save, except with the government which doesn't even have to pay interest if if doesn't want to."

Since this is communism, there is no such thing as capital investment. People live on their salaries, and what money they put in the bank and save they can use. But there is no such thing as investment, so you do not invest with the government because it doesn't offer you the opportunity. You can, however, loan money to the government if it can persuade you that it is your patriotic duty to do so. But you know beforehand that you will more than likely never see your money again, or they may pay no interest.

Five, "Under socialism or communism, chances are you can own nothing except the shirt on your back. The government owns everything else."

This is misleading because, while the government owns all the land, you may build a house if you save the money, and you may leave it to your children. You may own an automobile after you have waited an unconscionable time to obtain one. You may own the furnishings in your house. So there are such things as personal belongings.

Nobody whom I know of in this country wants communism and we have done very well under the free enterprise system. But if we say that nobody can be free who does not have a free enterprise system, we say that a great many peoples in the world, regardless of their freedom to participate in their government and many other institutions that are democratic and not socialistic or communistic, are not free because their resources are not adequate for a free enterprise system.

This seems nonsense to me, because even we have certain government functions, such as the Post Office system, which are socialistic. And undoubtedly we will do more things in the future which are not strictly in accord with the free enterprise system, yet we will be free people.


(Copyright, 1958, 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, February 26, 1958

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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.