The Archives: December 21

Liveblogging History: December 21, 1945: Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt: My Day:

NEW YORK, Thursday—It looks as though there was going to be a very determined effort to tie the increase in wages to the price of manufactured goods. Apparently nobody has the slightest objection to raising wages if they can cover the full amount of the price increase by charging the public more.

It is perfectly obvious that this would make the rise in wages null and void. It doesn't really matter how much money I have, it is what that money will buy which is important. If five cents will buy all that I want, then five cents is all I need.

The only real advantage in raising wages is to allow the average person to have a few more goods and services than they had in the past. That is called raising our standard of living. Therefore, the managers of our businesses should be thinking very hard at present of how they are going to be able to sell people more goods at the same or a lower price than in the past. Mr. Chester Bowles, of the OPA, should be upheld in keeping prices down to prevent inflation. Wages should go up to make it possible for people to buy more. Good management could discover ways and means of selling to the public not at higher prices, but at lower prices.

No one is going to dictate to management how this is to be done. It should not be done by cutting the backlog of savings which should accumulate for a rainy day. On the other hand that backlog should not be too large since in the aggregate it may mean that too much saving is keeping money out of circulation. We have been clever in the past in the use of machinery. Perhaps that will be the answer again, and when the solution to our present difficulties is found, as I am sure it will be, I hope it will be a real one that raises the standard of living.

The other afternoon a young woman came to see me with whom I could talk only through an interpreter, but the expression of her face and the eloquence of her sad eyes were proof enough that she had come to this country on a mission which was close to her heart.

Mr. Soledad Alvarez is one of the political prisoners to whom the Spanish government promised amnesty if they returned to their country. He had made his escape to Cuba after the defeat of the Loyalists and then returned to France to fight with the Resistance forces there.

As soon as he crossed the border into Spain he was arrested. His wife, who is a Cuban, quite naturally is doing all she can to enlist public sympathy in this country in his behalf, in the hope that the white light of publicity may move the Spanish government to greater leniency. She is hoping that our government will use its influence to persuade the Spanish government that political prisoners are entitled to an open trial, to lawyers of their own choice, and to attendance at the trial of the press and representatives of any foreign nation. She feels that political prisoners in every nation have a right to a full and open hearing and to protection such as is accorded prisoners under the laws of all civilized countries.

Mrs. Alvarez seemed so young and one realized that her husband must also be a very young man in spite of his varied experiences. Such situations seem so far away and completely outside of the ken of our life here that it is only in coming face to face with her that I realized what her anxiety must be and how strange it is that such publicity should be denied by any nation.