JULY 12, 1961
HYDE PARK—I am glad that President Kennedy has taken to the people the question of his long-range foreign aid program. Any sensible businessman or woman knows that a program that gives assurance of only one year's backing is a wasteful program.
You cannot make plans far enough in advance so that a project that takes over a year for completion can be carried out unless there is some assurance that funds will be on hand. When you know that year by year certain needed sums will be available the best way to get things done can be planned. Thus, there will be much less waste and much better planning.
Our dealings with our neighbors, particularly in Latin America, have been hampered by this situation of being unable to pledge support over a period of years, so that particular plans could not be carried out to full fruition. With the expanded program, which is meant to really help nations to move forward to a point where their economies will be self-supporting, long-range plans are absolutely essential.
It is gratifying to find the President explaining his program to the people, and I am sure he will get the support he asks.
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One of the arguments constantly brought up as regards the sincerity of the United States in desiring disarmament is the point that our economy could not stand giving up the continuation of full military production. And very important to the overall picture on disarmament was the statement made in Geneva by Mr. Adlai Stevenson, who heads our delegation.
In a speech before the Economic and Social Council he said that an accord to limit arms would provide the opportunity to turn "our resources from production of instruments of death to the production of the manifold things we need for a better life for our own citizens and for the citizens of other nations."
In his speech he recognized the fact that a change-over period that comes abruptly nearly always causes a time of disruption, but if it is planned for it can be accomplished very quickly and the difficulties can be minimized.
I was interested to read that Mr. Stevenson said such plans are really being considered in Washington. I hope they will be carried out to the point where business, particularly the big business of mass production for war, will know exactly step by step what they will be able to do and what world needs they will begin to fill. There are needs all over the world crying out for consideration, and I don't believe we have reached the point of pinpointing what our great industries could do if they turned their energies from military production to production to meet certain basic needs throughout the world.
Mr. Stevenson also said that Washington hoped the day would come when preparation for a change-over would not be merely an "academic exercise," and then he added that from our point of view there was "no higher priority than genuine disarmament and the building of greater confidence and trust among the great powers, who have life and death for the human race in their hands."
Mr. Stevenson's speech must have been of great interest to many of the representatives of the 18 countries present who represent different areas of the world. It must have given hope that even though we are telling our Soviet adversaries that we will take stock of our military situation and prevent any deterioration that will tempt them to such acts in the Berlin crisis as might lead to war, nevertheless our aim and objective is—and will always be—peaceful accommodation and development for the good of the human race as a whole.
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I have a particular interest in the city of Newburgh, N.Y., which is seeking to impose stringent new welfare regulations. For many years my mother-in-law and her sisters had a close attachment to that particular part of the Hudson River. They grew up and lived most of their lives on the outskirts of the city.
Being a practical person, I fully appreciate the difficulties that increased unemployment and the influx of a more or less floating population can bring to a city of Newburgh's size. I also happen to think that a certain tightening up on relief laws is called for. But some of the things proposed by the officials of the city would bring hardship to the innocent and not to the guilty.
I am not surprised that City Welfare Commissioner John O'Donnell resigned and that the New York State Welfare Board has declared some of the measures that Newburgh wishes to take to be illegal. I hope the citizens will reconsider a number of the proposals in the new code and that the state will take a sympathetic attitude in helping the city to work out its financial problems.