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

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EN ROUTE TO PARIS , Monday—I want to go a little further in reviewing the pamphlet I quoted from yesterday. Still, in the appendix of the Advertising Countil tract it says: "But these characteristics of controlled employment and confiscation of income are not those used in promotion of the idea of the welfare state. What are usually advertised, instead, are the 'benefits' of the welfare state—the grants of food and housing and whatnot—which the state 'gives' to the people."

What this appendix does in describing the welfare state is to show that here we do not have a welfare state. That I am quite willing to agree to.

In the first place, grants of food and housing and "whatnot" are only given by any community to those who are in dire need. The average person who can earn his living does so and through his taxes helps those who for some unfortunate reason are either temporarily or permanently unable to look after themselves.

Is the foundation for economic education suggesting that these people should starve or be left on the street, or, if they are ill, receive no medical attention? If they have no clothes should they be left to freeze?

The pamphlet starts out with some moral postulates. Among them it seems to accept the Golden Rule. But I take it that the appendix would have you completely do away with the Golden Rule and if you by chance live up to it, then you have "forfeited rights to choose one's own occupation and to keep whatever one is able to produce."

The welfare state benefits are compared to what a master allots to his slaves; so, slavery is the final outcome for the citizen in a welfare state.

This seems to me an effort to distort the meaning of the phrase, welfare state, and to frighten us into believing that when we pay taxes and these taxes are used for the general benefit of the community, which sometimes includes aid to nonproductive people, we have accepted slavery.

We are enabled to pay taxes because we labor and produce, and we are free to change our government if we are opposed to its policies.

The last paragraph in the pamphlet states: "To whatever extent an individual is allowed freedom in any of these respects while living under a government like the present one in the United States, then to that extent the development of the program of the welfare state is as yet not fully completed. Or perhaps it is an incident of a temporary grant of freedom by the welfare state, such as when a master allows his slave a day off to spend as he likes; but the person who is permitted some freedom by the welfare state is still a vassal of that state just as a slave is still a slave on his day off."

It seems to me that this foundation has completely overlooked the fact that the people of the United States still have a secret ballot. As long as they have it and use it, they cannot be slaves. I hope few people will believe the rubbish that is in this pamphlet.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 30, 1951

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.