DECEMBER 7, 1959
NEW YORK—I read President Eisenhower's speech on his departure with great interest. I am sure he is sincere in waiting to make his current trip one which will bring better understanding of America in the other nations of the world, and that he is truthful in saying he would like to see a start on mutual disarmament.
Yet these words would come with greater force if the Administration had already set up a group in this country to study how disarmament can really come about. This is not just a military matter; it is also an economic one. I therefore hope that two questions which are asked of the average American will be asked of the President while on this trip. The first question is: "Are you really sincere, Mr. President? Will not your economy collapse if you bring about a peaceful world? What have you done as yet to prepare your economy to meet this change?"
Now, any sensible person would obviously think that a government like ours had been planning for a changeover of industry as disarmament came about, and would know how each industry in our country would cooperate in this changeover and what the participation of the government would be. But how many people in our government are really bent on bringing about disarmament in the world and economic stability? I was told the other day that there were just six people concerned with this study at present in the government. I have no way of verifying this; but if it is true, then the people to whom the President talks will have a right to question the President on the sincerity that underlies the words.
Again, how much information is being asked for by our government in the U. N. which will make this changeover easier for our industrialists? The U. N. has the information about the world's needs, and these are the needs that we will now be planning to fill. First of all, we would have to improve, with the help of the U. N., the health of people in underdeveloped areas. Then we will have to help them develop their natural resources in order that they may be able to buy our goods. Here is undoubtedly a future a market for all that can be produced by the developed countries of the world. But these countries are not markets today because their people are neither healthy enough to do a good day's work nor thave they the ability to earn the money to pay for goods from the outside world.
The second question to be asked is: "Mr. President, is it true that in your country you pay to keep land out of production? Many of our people go to bed hungry every night."
This should be enough to start new thinking not only on the moral question that faces our nation but on the economic question. We have been lazy. It is difficult to plan for distribution of foodstuffs in the world. You must know about the economies of other countries and not upset them by selling such things as they are in the habit of buying from their neighbors. We are in a very strategic position: because of variety of climate, we can grow almost everything that is desired. We can change our surpluses. Canada cannot do that because of the weather conditions in her country, so we must consider how we cooperate in production as well as in distribution. This takes thought and intelligence, but it can mean future survival as a powerful country.
(COPYRIGHT, 1959, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 7, 1959
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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