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

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EN ROUTE TO PARIS, Tuesday—The other day I received a booklet from the Foundation for Economic Education called, "Morals and the Welfare State". What struck me was the little notice at the bottom of page 33, which states that the concepts of the welfare state in more detail but in condensed form are available as "The Communist Idea" series, which also may be obtained from the publisher of the above booklet.

I would like readers to turn first to the appendix in this booklet and read what is said about the welfare state idea. Here is a quotation: "The welfare state is a name that has been substituted as a more acceptable one for communism-socialism wherever, as in the United States, these names are in general disrepute."

I have no idea who backs this foundation, but it seems to me that much that appears in this pamphlet is dishonest in its thinking.

In the first place, the mere tying together of communism and socialism is dishonest. They are two quite different things.

We, in this country, happen to believe in enlightened capitalism. We certainly cannot dictate to any other country which chooses to have an economy that is either Socialist or Communist.

It is the other things that make us unable to live in the same world with the type of communism that exists at present in the Soviet Union. It is Russia's theory of a world revolution that they must promote and their underhanded infiltration into other countries with their doctrines which we cannot tolerate.

But to put the communistic label on what has been done in the United States to promote social welfare is not really honest because it has nothing to do with what we object to, as a people, in communism.

We can have opinions as to whether we think that all the things that have been done and euphemistically grouped together under the name of "welfare state" are wise economic measures. Or we may question the effect on the character of the people when the government assumes certain responsibilities in conjunction with the people. Whichever way you decide, however, does not make us Communist or Socialist.

We are a free people, and what we choose to do should not be labeled something which it is not.

Here is another quote: "The welfare state plan, viewed in full bloom of completeness, is one where the state prohibits the individual from having any right of choice in the conditions and place of his work; it takes ownership of the product of his labor; it prohibits private property. All these are done ostensibly to help those whose rights have been taken over by the welfare state."

This is nonsense.

This is a description of the present Communist state, but what we have in the United States has nothing to do with it. Our Federal government has neither removed the rights of the individual as to choice of conditions and place of work, nor has it taken over the ownership of the product of his labor. There is complete right to private property in this country and this effort to call what we have done to promote greater social justice a welfare state and then make that mean that we have adopted a Communist pattern is a completely untruthful picture.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 31, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.