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

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NEW YORK—A woman has complained in a letter to me about the system of bus transfers in New York City. She said she resented paying 60 cents to go on a bus from where she lives, on one side of town, to the shopping area in the 30s on the other side of town.

Not having studied the bus situation, I am not acquainted with the transfer system, but the cost of transfers has gone up, thereby giving the operating companies more revenue in the settlement of the recent strike. This does, however, work a real hardship on persons of fixed incomes and those who must budget carefully.

More and more persons are saying that transportation in general should be subsidized when it does not prove to be profitable as a regular business operation. But the minute you start subsidizing transportation lines you are accused by others from the extreme right in our country of lifting responsibility from the individual.

They argue that social security is wrong because individuals should save for their old age, that subsidization of public conveniences has no place in government. You begin to wonder who has really the correct perspective.

Of course, if we could turn the clock back and live in the world of 100 years ago, the arguments from the extreme right would make sense. But the world has changed, and whether we deal with small local questions or large ones of international importance, we must consider many new things. We must realize that a changing civilization means a great deal more government responsibility and cooperative action by people as a whole and a great deal less for individuals on a go-it-alone basis.

This discussion brings me to an international situation where again the extreme right, as represented by the American Committee for Aid to Katanga Freedom Fighters, is taking one point of view and the United Nations, backed by the United States government, takes another.

This committee has seized upon this situation, of course, as the opening wedge in its fight against the U.N. and foreign aid. It would like to turn back to the clock to a world of a century ago in which the U.S. would concentrate on its own affairs and accept no responsibility for world conditions.

The committee chooses to fight for the point of view of the Union Miniere de Haut Katanga and makes one of its chief objectives the blocking of efforts by our government to buy half of the U.N. bond issue.

These people urge citizens to write their representatives in Washington, and since there is never the same pressures applied for orderly processes of government as there are for an opposition group, the Congress probably will be deluged with letters expressing opposition to unification of the Congo and to the bond issue which is the only method of establishing stability and a viable economy in the Congo and continuing U.N. influence there.

The American Committee on Africa, Inc., is issuing a statement replying to the pro-Katanga group, and I quote a few paragraphs:

"Friends of America should recognize this 'support for Katanga' for what it really is, an attempt to wreck the United Nations and to defeat an enlightened American foreign policy in Africa.

"The pro-Katanga groups solicit support on the grounds that they are fighting the international Communist conspiracy. What are the facts?

"1. Russia did not support the U.N. action. The Russian bloc in the U.N. has never contributed one cent toward either military or civilian operations of the U.N. in the Congo.

"2. Neither Adoula nor Kasavubu of the Central Government has ever appealed to the Russians for help. But Tshombe's Munungo has. Last July he proposed an entente with Gizenga and was on the point of sending a delegation to Czechoslovakia.

"3. Had Katanga seceded, Gizenga would have done likewise. The Russians could then have backed him—and the cold war would have a permanent foothold in Africa for the first time."

One of the things we must remember is the interest European investors, whose holdings produce more than $350,000,000 annually, have in supporting Tshombe and the mercenary soldiers of fortune in Katanga. They wish to retain control at the expense of a strong government that would unify the Congo and give it a strong economy.


(Copyright, 1962, by the United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 12, 1962

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