APRIL 4, 1958
NEW YORK—A number of people who have had the privilege of talking with Bernard M. Baruch in recent months must not have been surprised at his testimony before the Senate Finance Committee the other day.
For Mr. Baruch has made it plain that he thinks there are two things we must do: Build strong defenses and reduce inflation, because the sound economic position of the United States is one of its major defenses.
Mr. Baruch does not feel that this can be done by lowering taxes. "It would be an inspiring and salutary thing," he suggested, "if the leaders of our great labor unions and businesses would jointly pledge to the President that for one year there would be no increase in wages and prices and that profit margins would at least be frozen."
In some ways, this is not so different from the suggestion made some time ago by President Walter Reuther of the United Automobile Workers, who said that if reductions were granted in the price of cars, labor would do its share in keeping down costs.
Mr. Baruch has given a clearer suggestion and one railroad, at least, has decided that all salaries above $10,000 a year will be cut 10 percent. This seems to be a beginning by business to do something that perhaps needed to be done some time ago.
In the lower income brackets, a reduction in income would mean a real lowering of the standard of decent living and would, in some cases, leave no margin of safety for the family. But as you go up into the higher income brackets, a cut in income is possible without a serious reduction in the standard of living.
I often have wondered if it would not be helpful to get a group of people together to analyze how a family's income can best be spent.
Certainly every family budget should allow for certain cultural opportunities, including recreation, and money spent along these lines may mean more in the real development of people than the way it is frequently spent by individuals and families today. The amount of income as far as ability to live decently is concerned is important, but a discriminating way of spending this income is also vitally important.
* * *
The American Jewish Society for Service has asked me for suggestions in finding a worthwhile summer project for a group of young people who want to do a job for some community.
This is something which has been done by young people in Quaker groups for many years and I am sure they would offer good suggestions.
I myself can suggest only that these youngsters be polled as to the area of the country in which they would like to work and that some place in that area be asked if it has a local undertaking on which a group of young people might do a constructive job.
* * *
The other day I was sent a group of tiny Bibles in bindings of various colors, and the people who sent them are suggesting that they be distributed to reach a world audience at the Brussels World Fair.
I suppose this would be a good place to distribute anything, but the Bibles are so small that I hope the people receiving them have good eyesight!