Archive for Saturday, January 7, 2006

Simons: Many ideas in 50-year-old missive are still valid today

January 7, 2006

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Christmas cards convey seasons greetings, often include photographs of family members and, in increasing numbers, serve as a vehicle to distribute glowing reports of a family's activities and accomplishments over the past year.

This year, a Christmas card to this writer included a copy of a letter his father had been asked to write more than 50 years ago, suggesting ideas to be included in a major presidential campaign address by Republican candidate Gen. Dwight Eisenhower on June 4, 1952, in Abilene, just weeks before the GOP convention in Chicago.

The letter had been requested by a close personal adviser and confidant of Eisenhower who asked "What would the public like to hear from the general?" A copy of the letter was included in a Christmas card sent this year by relatives of Eisenhower's campaign helper.

Although ideas outlined in the May 1952 letter are more than 50 years old, they are just as sound and make as much sense today as they did a half century ago.

The letter states:

"On international affairs, the public expects the General to approve the present plan of operation. But, I am sure it would strengthen his position to state plainly that he does not go along with the complete free-spending program of the Truman and Roosevelt administrations; that we can economize substantially without injuring the program (perhaps with an example); that we must expect greater cooperation from our allies; and that we cannot buy foreign friendship with dollars alone.

"On labor relations, I would like to see him state emphatically that as yet there is no better rule to follow than the Golden Rule - wherein men will treat other men in the way they would like to be treated. We must allow for collective bargaining, and men must have the right to strike, but shutting down factories or public services by strike, or by stockholders lockout, should be avoided whenever humanly possible, because of the losses and inconveniences involved. We need more bargaining between bona fide employees and bona fide employers, wherein each man gives serious consideration to what his position would be if he were sitting on the other side of the table.

"It makes sense to me that an employer should want his employees to make high wages so that his workers can have a high standard of living, and be happy and satisfied workers. And it makes sense that the laborer should want his boss to make a fair profit and be prosperous, because if his boss is doing well he is more certain of having a steady job at good wages. The problem is to try and keep the wages, and profits, and prices in balance. When they get out of balance, someone suffers.

"It seems to me that one of the greatest needs in our country is to try and develop better understanding between management and labor, instead of encouraging more suspicion and name calling. By and large, the average American, whether he be boss or laborer, believes in fair play - and I believe he would like to see more of it in his own working arrangements. We have too much government interference, and too much administration bias in labor matters.

"On the race problem, the General certainly doesn't need to answer whether he is for or against any specific FEPC plan, but here again the Golden Rule applies as well as any rule. It would definitely strengthen his position if he would state clearly that great strides forward have been made in the racial problem in America and further improvement is needed. Negro men and women are an important part of American life; they work, they pay taxes and they offer their lives in the defense of the country; and, they deserve full recognition of their economic and political rights. It is to the credit of the United States that every state in the union, regardless of location, has had a part in the improvement of the position of the Negro race, and that good men and women everywhere recognize this program must continue to improve if American is to be a true model of democracy. The general attitude of men is far more important than any individual law which might be passed.

"On taxes, the country wants to hear a pledge that everything possible will be done to reduce the present high percentage of private income which must be paid to the tax gatherer. Just as every family, every school board, every city and state can cut out waste and non-essentials in expense, so can our federal government be more careful in the expenditure of hard earned tax money. Good, common-sense business administration can save money for the taxpayers. The present debt is so great, and commitments are so heavy, that the tax load will be high for many years to come. We cannot expect miracles in tax reduction but, to keep America strong, the federal government must start spending a smaller part of the national income, and the average taxpayer must be able to keep a larger share of his personal income for his personal use.

"And for graft; the public servant who steals $10,000 in tax money is just as guilty as the man who steals $10,000 from a bank or from a widow woman, and he should be sent to jail. There is no place for half-way honesty, or for clever manipulation of public funds for private gain, in our government.

"The United States needs to give sober thought to the manner in which integrity and honesty have been forgotten in recent years. We must have greater respect for honor, whether it be in government, in our families, in business management, in the ranks of labor, or in our schools. Maybe some of our older people are beyond repair, but we must not neglect the proper training of our youngsters in our schools and churches. We need an immediate reawakening to the importance and necessity of high moral standards. Just saying we are against sin isn't enough; every single one of us must do something about it.

"On Bureaucracy: In our type of complex government there is a necessity of some bureaucracy. The men elected to federal office cannot individually attend to all functions of government and some of these functions must be handled by men serving under appointment. But, today there is too much bureaucracy in America; too many appointed officers who are doing unnecessary things while taking a big bite out of the tax dollars. With a little time, most any general manager of any of our great industrial concerns could save a minimum of a billion dollars a year out of our annual federal budget without seriously injuring our federal services to the public. Every single government department and bureau needs to be surveyed and investigated carefully by some patriotic experienced businessman to cut away the fat and wastes. Men and women who perform a valuable service for our country deserve to be paid well for their work, but there is no place for the loafer or the parasite."

As noted earlier, the letter was written May 10, 1952, but it makes just as much sense today as it did more than 50 years ago. The public wants and appreciates men and women who are genuine in their beliefs, who have high standards, who believe in fairness and who do not engage in double talk.

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