X. WAY OF LIFE
BY ALBERT E KAHN
Chapter 10 from THE GAME OF DEATH
Another war would be a grim and miserable business for everyone. . . . Last time we could afford to reward people for doing things that had to be done. This time incentives would not be possible. . .1. Peak Prosperity
"WHAT MADE the (fiscal) year ending with June 1950 distinctive for the health, the education and the family security of the American people?" read the opening words of the Annual Report of the Federal Security Agency which was submitted in October 1950 to President Truman by Federal Security Administrator Oscar R. Ewing. "In contrast to the unsettled world outlook, it was, on balance, a year of hard-earned progress in most of the things that make life worth living for the 150-odd million men and women and children whom the census was then counting. . . . Within the United States the setting was one of very nearly peak prosperity."
There was an undeniable element of truth to the claim. For some, at least, things had never been so good.
"Business is wonderful," was the composite reply of 1,200 industrial concerns to a questionnaire circulated among them by the Journal of Commerce. With marked satisfaction, the Journal commented: "1950 financial reports will make juicy reading. It will be a record year for net profits. . ."
The earnings of the largest American corporations had soared to fabulous new heights. They were, in the exuberant terminology of Barron's Financial Weekly, not only "measuring up to the highest expectations" but even "proving far more brilliant than anticipated." Total corporation profits were four times as great as in the boom years of the late 1920's and far in excess of the peak profits of World War II. One corporation, General Motors, boasted a net profit for 1950 of $834,000,000, the largest annual profit ever accumulated by any one company anywhere in the world. The Wall Street Journal reported "a golden flood of generous dividends."
Summing up, the Annual Economic Review of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President stated: "The year 1950 witnessed the largest total profits in American history."
The "peak prosperity" of the Cold War was not, however, reflected in the lives of American children.
. .. Schools had somehow managed to squeeze into their overcrowded rooms some 800,000 more children than they had the previous year. . . . Some 1.9 million children aged 6 through 17 were not in school, in many cases because there was no school for them, and too many others were being shortchanged for lack of teachers, buildings and equipment. . . .
For the 1.7 million children receiving aid to dependent children, there were thousands in like need who were not. . .
During the year, 37 States reported that unless more money became available, they would have to reduce their programs for crippled children; 23 States would have to curtail maternal and child health services. . . .
Lack of adequate funds was one of the most serious problems in the child welfare program during the year. . . . 22 States reported that they had already had to curtail their child welfare program or would have to in the near future if additional funds were not forthcoming.
The fact was that few individuals in the country were as well acquainted as Federal Security Administrator Ewing with the acutely serious health and welfare problems facing millions of American children amid the vaunted plenty of the Cold War. Ewing himself had detailed a number of these problems in a highly revealing report to President Truman in September 1948.
Entitled The Nation's Health - A Ten-Year Plan, and published in the form of a painstakingly documented 186-page book, the Ewing Report presented a comprehensive survey of "the state of the Nation's health" and "plans to raise the level of health during the next decade,"
By no means the least significant data in the Report concerned the health of American children.
These were some of the Report's findings:
Some 20,000,000 of our school-age children - 75 percent of all of them - need dental attention. The average child on beginning school has six teeth that have already started to decay, , . Estimates are that cavities in children's teeth are increasing about six times as fast as they are being filled. . . .
Many, . . children suffer from general malnutrition, which causes them to grow at less than the normal rate and have less than the average resistance to infections.
In some parts of the country, a recent survey showed, as many as 72 percent of pregnant women and 85 percent of children of early school age were suffering from secondary anemia. . . .
It is estimated that 1,000,000 children attending our public schools today will spend some part of their lives as patients in mental hospitals.
In a section entitled "Handicapped Children," the Report stated:
The Nation's total of handicapped children has been estimated in the millions . . . Half a million children have rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease-the chief fatal disease among school-age children. . . .
A million children have hearing defects, and 4,000,000 have visual defects.
Probably most of these children receive some medical attention during the acute stages of illnesses, but this is only one phase of the treatment they require. We have no plan for insuring that every child crippled by disease or injury is rehabilitated to the maximum possible degree. The cost is prohibitive to the vast majority of families. . . .
A scant 20 percent of our people are able to afford all the medical care they need. About half of our families - those with incomes of $3,000 or less - find it hard, if not impossible, to pay for even routine medical care.
. . . 25 States now have no child guidance clinic in any community."
Perhaps the most shocking of the many statistics included in the Report were these:
Every 19 minutes an infant dies whose life could have been saved. Every four hours we lose a mother in childbearing whom we might have saved. (2)
To remedy the Nation's "severe losses through sickness, disability, and death, much of which is unnecessary," the Ewing Report projected a ten-year health program for the entire population, based largely on a plan of Government health insurance and increased Federal appropriations for hospital and other health facilities. The program advanced as one of its chief goals:
To assure to every child in the country the utmost degree of health . . . to do this through a national plan that will build progressively toward complete medical care and social, psychological and health service for all children and mothers in childbirth.
It might have been expected that a plan of this sort would have been hailed on all sides as a profoundly worthy and patriotic undertaking. Such was far from the case. Fabulous expenditures by the Government to create implements for spreading death and destruction were one thing; but Federal measures to protect the health and lives of children were another . . .
The Ewing Report was quickly filed away and forgotten.
The deplorable health conditions disclosed in the Report remained largely ignored and unremedied as did the underlying causes of these conditions.
2. "Get healthier by eating less"
DURING THE COLD WAR, as prices and taxes have continued to soar, with wages lagging far behind, the living standards of the American people have steadily declined.
In 1950 the Labor Research Association estimated that the average American wage-earner's family needed an income of $4,276 for "a healthy and reasonably comfortable living." The estimate was based on the recognized standard budget prepared by the Heller Committee for Research in Social Economics. That same year, according to statistics released by the Census Bureau, more than 30,000,000 American children - nearly three out of every four children in the country - were living in families whose yearly incomes were less than the sum essential for a healthful and decent standard of living.
Some concept of the living standards of the great majority of American children during the "prosperity" of 1950 may be derived from these little publicized figures of the Census Bureau:
9,781,000 children were in families with annual incomes ranging between $3,000 and $4,000;
9,405,000 children were in families with annual incomes ranging between $2,000 and $3,000;
11,000,000 children were in families with annual incomes under $2,000, or less than half the Heller standard budget requirement; and 4,500,000 of these children were in families with annual incomes of under $1,000, or average weekly incomes of less than $20.
"We still wrangle in towns, cities, and capitals, State and National, about the housing shortage while countless children are being brought up in squalor," declared the introduction to Making Ends Meet On Less Than $2,000 A Year, a study published by the Congressional Joint Committee on the Economic Report in 1951.
A Public Affairs Committee pamphlet issued that year contained this account of housing conditions in Chicago:
The housing shortage is disgraceful and so is much of the housing. The Chicago Housing Authority says 292,000 dwellings should be added to the present 1,050,000 to ease the shortage. One-sixth of the city's dwellings have no toilet or no running water - an increase of 20 percent over 1940.
Negro housing is concentrated more rigidly than in southern cities. . . . The new arrivals have been wedged into the old slums. A survey by the Real Estate Research Corporation in 1949 showed 3,580 families and 646 roomers in dwellings built for 1,127 families.
Landlords have hit the jackpot by carving up old tenements into one-room kitchenettes renting at around $80 (a month). Firemen carried the bodies of five children from one building in which 67 families, separated by celotex partitions, had occupied space designed for six families,
Similar housing conditions are today rife in major cities from coast to coast.
"We must not be led into thinking that we can make the change to a defense economy easily," President Truman soberly if somewhat superfluously observed in his Economic Report to Congress on July 21, 1951. "It requires effort, restraint and sacrifice by all of us." The President indicated whom he had particularly in mind in this connection when he added: "Workers . . . should cooperate by working longer hours. Workers must make sacrifices. They must accept restraints and controls upon wages. . . American families must make sacrifices."
The President's Council of Economic Advisers put the matter even more succinctly. In their words: "We must stop eating so much cake. . . get healthier by eating less."
Among those already eating less, if not getting healthier in the process, were millions of American children.
More and more parents were finding it impossible to provide their children with the food they needed. "Because of the enormous rise in food prices," stated a survey of economic conditions published by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, "workers have been forced to cut down on vital foods."
The Congressional study, Making Ends Meet on Less Than $2,000 A Year, reported, "The most frequent method used to cut the food budget was to eliminate meat and milk. . ...(4)
At the same time, countless school children were being deprived of the cheap lunches they had formerly been able to buy through the Government-subsidized national lunch program, as Congress refused to increase the appropriation for this program despite rising food costs and the greatly increased school enrollments. A survey conducted in ten states by the American Parents Committee revealed that in many localities the lunch program was likely to be discontinued completely unless additional Federal aid was forthcoming. "There is evidence," the Committee's report also noted, "that when a school raises its price per lunch because its reimbursement rate from the government is cut, many children who need such a lunch drop out because they cannot afford the higher lunch and will not ask for a free lunch."
How serious the situation had become in some communities was indicated by an article in the March 26, 1951, issue of the CIO News which related:
School children in Charlotte, N. C., the largest and most progressive city in the state, are fainting in their classrooms from hunger.
At least 300 youngsters go to their classes every day with no breakfast; they carry no lunch and they haven't the money to buy it.
This shameful state of affairs was made known by the Charlotte News. . . The situation is especially bad in Negro schools. (5)
3. The Forgotten Children
MILLIONS OF AMERICANS were horrified when they read a United Press dispatch which appeared in many of the nation's newspapers on March 9, 1950. The dispatch reported that one hundred children of migratory agricultural workers had been found starving in a farm labor camp near Phoenix, Arizona.
The families in the camp, related the dispatch, had been unable to secure work because a freeze had spoiled local crops; those who could still afford such meagre sustenance were now surviving on a diet of biscuits and lard. The migratory workers were living in unspeakable squalor in dilapidated tin shacks without electricity, running water or furniture of any sort. "The houses used to have crude furniture but that's all sold now for food," a local official was quoted as saying. "Now everybody sleeps on the floor."
A number of children in the camp had been without any food at all for a week or more. One father had been desperately selling his blood to get food for his children. Another told of plodding from farm to farm over an area of sixteen miles frantically seeking work of any kind, at any wage, and getting none.
"Most of the children have distended abdomens," noted Juvenile Judge Thomas J. Croaff in a statement ordering emergency food and medical supplies distributed in the camp. . . .
Despite the widespread shock occasioned by these disclosures, conditions such as those at the camp near Phoenix were by no means rare at the time in the lush agricultural regions of the West.
"Throughout the vast and fertile San Joaquin Valley, one of the nation's prime agricultural areas . . . " reported the New York Times correspondent, Gladwin Hill, from California on March 16, 1950, "a new cycle of destitution among farm workers is under way. . . . The recent episode of the one hundred starving migrant children in Arizona was only a tiny symptom of a widespread regional condition of which this valley is a focal point. In hundreds of farm labor camps, shanty towns and small rural communities, tens of thousands of people are living on the ragged edge of poverty. At dozens of distribution centers they are lining up for doles of Government surplus foods. . ."
During the previous three months amid the abundant cotton, fruit and vegetable crops of the San Joaquin Valley, at least fifty-six children of migratory workers had died from what the county records termed "malnutrition." Various investigators in the area more bluntly described the cause of death as starvation. . .
A more sanguine attitude was expressed by organizations of affluent, large farm owners. There was, they said, "no cause for alarm"; the situation was really "quite normal." This viewpoint was reflected in the testimony of C. A. Finch, secretary of the local Social Security Board, at a hearing conducted in Phoenix by the President's Commission on Migratory Labor. Regarding the near-by farm labor camp where one hundred children had been found starving, Finch serenely observed: "The publicity was very much exaggerated. It was no worse in many respects than for years before" . . .
Hunger, destitution and ineffable misery are the common lot of the two million members of migratory farm workers' families who wearily follow the crops across the land like a ragged army of nomadic outcasts. Largely unorganized into any union and unprotected by State or Federal laws, the migrant workers eke out an agonizing existence, gleaning from backbreaking drudgery wages barely sufficient to keep them alive and living in squalid settlements of shacks and hovels pieced together out of tar paper, tin and cardboard. Their ranks are riddled with sickness and disease; the death rate among their children is twice as high as in other sections of the population.
In a series of articles in September 1950 in the New York Times dealing with migratory labor in the six Middle Atlantic States of Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, journalist Stanley Levey cited a typical labor camp "where hundreds of workers were living in window less box cars and tents along a busy road."
Shortly after the appearance of Levey's articles, tragic evidence of the sort of housing provisions for migrant workers in New York State was supplied when two children burned to death near Bridgehampton, Long Island, in a l2-by-20 foot former chicken coop inhabited by fourteen persons. The Times account of this episode reported that "conditions here are typical of those encountered in many farming communities on Long Island. Coops that had housed chickens, dilapidated lean-tos, shacks and storage sheds are common living quarters for many of the transients. . . No electricity, gas or sanitary facility is available" . . .
Scarcely less inhuman are the methods used by "contractors" or "crew leaders" to transport migratory farm workers and their families from one agricultural region to another. While some migrants follow the crops in their own ancient and dilapidated cars, many are herded into trucks and shipped like so many cattle across hundreds of miles of territory, traveling day and night without being allowed to stop to rest or eat.
"Crew leaders," wrote Stanley Levey in the New York Times, "have been known to carry their human cargoes for thirty-six hours without stopping, providing sweet cakes and beer to dull appetites, and pails for toilet purposes. Some of them lock their workers in, refusing to stop."
In a radio address in 1951, Sol Markoff of the National Child Labor Committee recounted this incident:
Not long ago a truck carrying forty-four agricultural workers to the fields collided with a train. When rescue workers finally succeeded in untangling the wreckage, they pulled out eleven youngsters - all under twelve years of age - all dead. There are hundreds of thousands of these youngsters who follow the crops with their parents to help produce the food we eat. Some of these youngsters are not more than seven or eight years old.
The number of migrant children who labor alongside their parents in the fields and orchards of the land is estimated at about half a million. Day in and day out, from sunrise until sunset, in freezing weather and under the heat of the broiling sun, they pull and top sugar beets, cut and bunch asparagus, gather string beans, peas, tomatoes and strawberries, straining with their small strength to lift boxes heavily loaded with fruit and vegetables or to drag along the ground bags crammed with cotton. As the 1951 Annual Report of the National Child Labor Committee records:
Even 7 and 8 year olds are employed when they should be in school or at play, and many work under conditions similar to factory employment in the early days of the Century. Working for long hours. . . in stooping, crawling. back-breaking positions, they labor to supplement the meagre income of their parents. (6)
"And what about the infants and the toddlers - those too young even to go to school?" asks a report of the Home Missions Division of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. "Who takes care of them? Most of the mothers work right alongside their husbands in the fields to help eke out a living and cannot care for the youngest children during the day. Field investigators have found infants locked in automobiles or in cabins while their parents are working."
One thing, however, is evident. As a result of the Cold War, the number of American child workers has steadily increased.
"With the pressure on the labor market caused by the expanding defense program," stated the December 1948 MonthlyLabor Review of the Department of Labor, "abnormal numbers of minors are likely to continue in the labor force,"
With violations of State and Federal child labor laws widely prevalent, employers have been conducting an intensive campaign to emasculate existing legislation. In the words of Beatrice McConnell, Chief of the Division of Legislative Standards of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Labor Department:
State Legislatures meeting in 1951 enacted laws concerning child labor that reflect the pressure for manpower throughout the country, Although some advance occurred, a discouraging tendency toward relaxation of labor standards can be seen.
Among "the most tragic results" of this trend noted by the 1952 Annual Report of the National Child Labor Committee was the steady increase in "the toll of children suffering from severe occupational hazards," During the last harvesting season, recorded the report, fifteen children had been killed and a number of others crippled in five mid-western states alone while working with farm machinery or equipment.
Throughout the country, industrial accidents have multiplied among children, "Some are killed," states the National Child Labor Committee. "Many are maimed and handicapped for life,"
If the Congress of the United States has been at all disconcerted by these developments, there is little proof of the fact.
The Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, whose duties include the administration of Federal child labor regulations, has had its appropriation for the fiscal year of 1953 cut by Congress by almost a million dollars; and the appropriation of the Department's Bureau of Labor Standards, which among other activities conducts research in the field of child labor, has been decreased by more than 10 per cent.
The amount denied to help mitigate the desperate educational plight of the migrant children was less than the cost of a single medium-sized tank. (8)
4. Scale of Values
THE NATIONAL BUDGET submitted to Congress by President Truman on January 21, 1952, called for the unprecedented peacetime expenditure of eighty-five billion dollars during the fiscal year of 1953.
"This budget," proclaimed the President in his budget message, "represents the program I am recommending for promoting peace and safeguarding security,"
The type of peace and security projected by President Truman was indicated by the fact that 76 per cent of the budget was earmarked for expenditures on military services, armament production, atomic war projects and overseas military aid. A scant 5 per cent was allotted to social security, public health and welfare, housing and education. And of this 5 per cent, only a small fraction was specifically designated for the care and welfare of the nation's children.
"We are making one ship line a gift of fifty million dollars," bitterly commented Senator George Aileen of Vermont. "That is fifty per cent more money than we plan to appropriate for maternal and child welfare work in this country. Does a five-year-old child have any cash value? . . . What is the cash value of a healthy mother as compared to a sick mother?"
The ugly truth is that as more and more Federal funds have been poured into the immensely profitable business of armament production and war preparations, the Government has attached less and less "cash value" to the lives of American mothers and children.
Nowhere has this trend been more apparent than in the treatment of the Children's Bureau of the Federal Security Agency.
. . . this year the Bureau of the Budget asked for 8 1/2million [dollars] less than the amount authorized and now the House of Representatives has passed a Bill cutting three million more. This is not only disappointing for the present but ominous for the future.
In the first place the programs for children had already been curtailed by rising medical costs. . . and by the huge child population.
Chopping off further assistance as ruthlessly as inflation has already begun to curtail it, will result in definite hardships; thousands of crippled children who had begun the correction of handicaps will be turned away, thousands of premature infants will not receive the care that would save their lives, many states will reduce diagnostic services and many children will be left in conditions of neglect or delinquency.
Speaking at a health conference in Washington, D. C., on November 27, 1951, the Children's Bureau Chief, Dr. Martha M. Eliot announced regarding the programs conducted by State agencies for the care of children with rheumatic fever, which is the cause of more deaths among school-age children than any other disease: ". . . it is now the policy of the Children's Bureau gradually to withdraw funds especially reserved for these programs."
Dr. Eliot added:
Babies are dying needlessly in many places, particularly in the Southwest and Southeast. They are dying not only because doctors, hospitals, and health services are scarce. They are dying because family incomes are too low to buy proper food and other things the family needs, or because sanitation is inadequate.
"We are all aware," said Surgeon General Leonard A. Scheele of the Public Health Service in his speech at the same health conference, "that budgets for non-military activities have been scrutinized with unusual determination to economize."
The Government's Cold War policy of ruthlessly "economizing" on the health and lives of children, while expending ever-vaster amounts on armament production and military projects, was not to slacken:
The total sum requested by President Truman in 1952 for Federal-grants-in-aid to be administered by the Children's Bureau to states for maternal and child health, child welfare and the care of crippled children was approximately a million and a half dollars less than the Children's Bureau received in 1951, and over eleven million dollars short of the amount authorized for distribution under the Social Security Act.
Even then, the reduction proposed by the President was insufficient to satisfy members of Congress. Before passing the appropriations bill, the thrift-minded legislators lopped off another $1,400,000 . . .
These were some of the other retrenchments carried out by the 82nd Congress in appropriations affecting the health and welfare of American children:
Tuberculosis program, U. S. Public Health Service - The House cut the 1951 appropriation by $566,750. The Senate increased the cut by another $50,000. (10)
General assistance to States, Public Health Service - The House cut the budget request by $322,000. The Senate increased the cut by another $220,000.
Control of communicable diseases, Public Health Program - The House cut the 1951 appropriation by $288,397. The Senate increased the cut by $100,000.
U. S. Office of Education - The House cut the budget request by $282,000. The Senate voted an additional reduction of $28,000.
Defense area housing and facilities - Congress cut $25,000,000 from 1951 Federal aid to most critical housing in so-called defense areas. Congress specifically prohibited the use of these funds for hospitals, health centers, recreation, and day care purposes. A proposal to set aside approximately $500,000 for the provision of library facilities was rejected by the House, after Chairman Clarence Cannon of Missouri stated: "Why should we take money away from fundamental necessities . . . just to give somebody an opportunity to read a book?"
"The bang of the gavel ending the 82nd Congress," stated the August 1952 issue of the Washington Report on Legislation for Children was also the death knell for pending bills dealing with the welfare and education of children. Most of them died aborning, so to speak . . ."
Nor did it appear to the editors of the Washington Report that a shift from a Democratic to a Republican Administration would offer much brighter prospects for American children. In a section entitled "The Look Ahead," reviewing the platforms adopted for the presidential campaign by the two major parties, the bulletin noted:
The Platform adopted by the Republicans made no mention of the welfare of the nation's children or the responsibility of government for its future citizens.
5. Issues at Stake
Two months later, the overwhelming majority by which Eisenhower was elected President of the United States reflected the ardent will of the American people to banish the prospect of war and halt the bloody conflict in Korea. Millions, fervently agreeing with the Republican slogan that it was "time for a change," voted for Eisenhower in the eager hope that under his leadership the nation would somehow emerge from the pall of the Cold War which had darkened the land for more than five years.
There were, on the other hand, some persons who had supported the General's candidacy and were jubilant over his victory for different reasons.
In a post-election issue devoted to "The New America - Preview of the Next Four Years," the big business journal, U. S. News & World Report, exulted:
Management, finance will have their say, exercise more power. . . .
Men who have been directing American businesses, banks, industries are taking over as policy makers. . . . Ike has surrounded himself with a businessman's Administration.
The magazine envisioned this perspective:
Soviet is encircled by U. S. bases. . . . big new jets can plaster all of the major cities and industries of the Soviet world. . . . A stockpile of thousands of atom bombs. . . now is on hand. . . . Strength of the U. S. will be increased. . . by a stockpile of hydrogen bombs, each able to destroy a city. . . .
Today, U. S. is completing expansion of an arms industry without equal.
Summing up the business prospects of this anticipated state of affairs, U. S. News predicted: "Good times are in sight for Ike's next four years."
In the light of swiftly ensuing events, however, it seemed questionable whether good times were in sight for the vast mass of the American people whose primary concern was not armament profits but the welfare of their children.
Overnight, many of the illusions conjured up by campaign oratory were rudely shattered. Instead of measures to lessen international tensions and end the war in Korea, the new Administration promptly projected plans for extending hostilities in the Far East, speeding up the rearmament of Western Germany and intensifying subversive operations in Eastern European countries to help "liberate" them. As flag-draped coffins containing the bodies of young Americans continue to make their somber journey across the Pacific and into U. S. ports, high Army officers appeared before congressional committees to demand an extension of the draft period and the shipment of more troops to Korea. In less than a month after Eisenhower's inauguration, according to press reports, the White House was being flooded with mail bitterly charging President Eisenhower with "failing to keep his promise to end the Korean war" and "to bring the boys home:'
On the homefront too - despite the claim of the new Secretary of Defense and ex-president of General Motors Company, Charles E. Wilson, that "what is good for the country is good for General Motors, and what is good for General Motors is good for the country" - the outlook for young Americans seemed far from bright. Under the supervision of the industrialists and financiers now heading the Government, the nation's economy was being quickly geared to the construction of more tanks and fewer schools, more battleships and fewer hospitals, more atomic bombs and fewer homes. With the influence of the red-baiting mountebank, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, growing daily in Washington, frenetic witchhunts and inquisitorial investigations were multiplying throughout the country as part of an intensified drive to drill conformity into children's minds. A mood of fear and pessimism increasingly vitiated the morale of American youth.
The myriad and incalculable costs of the Cold War, far from abating, were mounting on every side . . .
Then, in the early spring of 1953, with a suddenness that startled the whole nation, there began a series of momentous international developments which aroused a ferment of hope in the possibility of finally terminating the Cold War.
In the Far East, the North Korean and Chinese Governments not only agreed to an immediate exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of war by the opposing forces in Korea, but also offered to make major concessions toward the achievement of a full armistice. Simultaneously, the Government of the Soviet Union began making one conciliatory move after another, aimed at opening up negotiations with the United States on a variety of long-deadlocked issues and the settlement of outstanding differences between the East and the West. The Moscow press called for a return to the Big Three unity of the days of the war against the Axis. "Meet us halfway in friendship'" urged Soviet representative Andre Vishinsky at the General Assembly of the United Nations.
As every day brought fresh developments on the peace front, and a wave of optimism swept across the war-weary world, certain circles in the United States made manifest the fact that they regarded not war but peace as the immediate menace. With prices plunging downward on the New York Stock Exchange, columnist Sylvia Porter of the New York Post reported:
Such apprehensions, however, on the part of militarists and war profiteers failed to stem the surging popular demand that the United States Government act swiftly for peace at this most critical moment. In response to this sentiment, President Eisenhower delivered a major policy address on April 16 before the American Society of Newspaper Editors. In his speech, which was broadcast and televised nationally and transmitted overseas in many languages by short wave, the President enunciated a series of sweeping conditions to be met by the "new Soviet leadership" as proof of their "sincerity of peaceful purpose." The President declared that the United States was "ready to assume its just part" toward the achievement of a durable peace.
"This world in arms," stated Eisenhower, "is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
Reflecting the general reaction of the nation's press to the President's address, the New York Times hailed it as an eminently successful "bid to regain for the United States the diplomatic 'peace offensive' from the Soviet Union."
But for millions of American mothers and fathers, heartsick from the seemingly interminable killing in Korea and filled with dread by the looming clouds of atomic global warfare, the matter of diplomatic maneuvers to gain credit for a "peace initiative" was of little interest. For them, as for countless other parents in every corner of the earth, far greater issues were at stake.
Upon the crucial deliberations now under way among the nations of the world and upon the momentous decisions evolving in their own land, they knew, depended not only the welfare and happiness but the very lives of their children.
NOTES: (1) Large as the armament business had been during 1947-1950, it underwent an immense boom with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea.
"Quite apart from its tragic aspect," stated the August 1950 issue of Dun's Review, "the effect of the Korean crisis on business was salutary in so far as increased Government expenditures portend an indefinite continuation of our current high-level economic activity. Business, was more assured of stability in the economy . . . than at any time in the past few years."
Here are some other observations from American business and financial journals regarding the "salutary" effect of the Korean war and armament production upon the nation's economy:
"War, even if localized, even if short, won't he followed by disarmament. . . . Depression no longer need be a worry for as long as anyone can foresee. - U. S. News & World Report, August 4, 1950
"You Are Just Starting To Feel It - Contracts are just starting. Spending - real measure of mobilization's impact - will rise for a year and a half.
. . . Military spending will be the thing above all else that sets the pace for American huskiness . . ." - Business Week, September 30, 1950
"Armament is the new industry that underwrites the boom. . . . the planners are confident that good times can be assured - with no more than moderate interruption - for a long time to come." - U. S. News World Report, October 6, 1950
"While Administration economists have never admitted this: there was plenty of evidence before June 25 that the postwar boom was becoming very tired indeed. . . . Leaving out Korea, it is only too obvious that any sharp pruning of Government expenditures would have precipitated a first-class business decline." - Journal of Commerce, November , 1950
(2) According to the Report: "Every year, 325,000 people die whom we have the knowledge and the skills to save." In other words, out of a total of 1,400,000 deaths a year, almost a quarter were unnecessary.
(3) Approximately 25,000,000 men, women and children today reside under such conditions in the United States; and more than a third of all the families in the nation occupy homes lacking minimum standards of decency.
Meantime, while giving verbal recognition to the emergency proportions of the housing shortage, the Government has practically scrapped the low-cost housing features of the Housing Act of 1949; and the construction of low-cost houses and apartments has almost entirely ceased in every section of the country.
(4) As early as 1947, the New York City Hospital Commissioner, Dr. Edward Bernecker, had warned: "If the present trends of living costs continue, there is a grave danger that the health of large segments of the population will deteriorate," Should food prices climb still higher, said Dr, Bernecker there would be "a definite increase in the rate of illness in a population weakened by malnutrition."
At the time Senator Robert A. Taft had dryly commented regarding the greatly increased cost of food that he agreed with Herbert Hoover that "the best answer is for the 'people to cut down on their extravagances', They should eat less.'"
(5) On February 13, 1952, the National Guardian carried a letter from Inez Campbell of Albany, Oregon, stating: "We have just had another proof that hot and cold wars result in cold lunches for school kids. A communication from the State Office of the School Lunch Program stated that the allocation from Federal funds had been cut 16.75 %. This makes a continuation of the hot lunch program prohibitive. The cent per meal per child which we are now allowed does not even pay for the milk which is now a requirement in the lunch."
(6) Sol Markoff related in the radio address quoted above: "We followed eighty-one strawberry picking families along their migration from state to state one season. There were about 250 children under sixteen years of age in the group. Most of them were regular workers, including several who were five and six. , . . Do you know what we found? More than third of the children of school age had not attended school for a single day in the whole preceding year."
"Of the 50,000 migratory laborers in six Middle Atlantic States . . , ," reported Stanley Levey in his September 1950 series in the New York Times, "perhaps 10,000 are children half of them under 8 years."
(7) In October 1950, the Census reported the employment of 2,469,000 children between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. That same month, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Standards, there were employed approximately three quarters of a million children between the ages of ten and thirteen. No statistics were available on the employment of children under ten, although there are large numbers of them, particularly in agricultural work,
The wage-hour division of the U. S, Department of Labor reported in 1949 that children under twelve were working from 6 AM to 6 PM in a starch factory, that children under sixteen were putting in a 13-hour day in a cement plant, and that inspections of canning and packing plants, sawmills and planing mills, laundries and dry cleaning plants revealed that from 50% to 75% of the workers were under age.
(8) Illiteracy among migratory farm workers is estimated to be as high as 60 per cent. The 1951 report of the President's Commission on Migratory Labor stated: "Hundreds of thousands of the children of migrants are today getting little or no education, and they face the prospect of being slightly, if any, better able to raise their level of living than have their parents before them."
(9) These funds, which constitute a vital feature of Federal health legislation for children, help finance a multitude of activities, such as maternal clinics, well child clinics, medical examinations for school children, immunizing children against diseases, and rehabilitation for cerebral palsy cases.
(10) It is estimated that there are about 1,200,000 persons in the United States suffering from tuberculosis, and some 35,000 "die each year from the disease. Due largely to the shortage of tuberculosis beds, less than half of the known cases are in hospitals today.
TO THE READER
ON ALL sides today, one hears such questions as these: how can we protect our children from the tensions in the land? how can we provide a fitting education for our children with the desperate shortage of schools and teachers? how can we keep the minds of our children creative and free amid a stultifying atmosphere of thought control, repression and fear? how can we guard our children against the brutalizing impact of comic books, motion pictures, TV and radio? how can we prevent our children from coming to regard war as inevitable, hatred as natural and killing as a game?
The crucial problems that provoke these questions differ in many respects, as do the actions required of us to meet them. But overshadowing all differences is a common circumstance: each of these problems stems in its present form from the Cold War, and none can be truly solved while the Cold War continues.
That is why if our efforts to safeguard the welfare and happiness of our children are to be meaningful, they must be matched by deeds to bring the Cold War to an end. We cannot accomplish the one without the other.
Above all, we cannot forget that as long as, the Cold War persists, the dreadful portent of a third world war looms over the lives of our children.
Nor can we for a moment close our minds to the measureless agony which children in other lands are enduring as a consequence of the Cold War. Which of us can maintain a quiet heart and calm conscience while children are sold as slaves in Japan, perish from famine and tuberculosis in Greece, and wander homeless across the blood-drenched countryside of Korea?
There are, of course, persons who lack hearts and consciences. "Sure, I don't want children to die in a war," a man in Decatur, Illinois, told me. "But if it's a choice between American and Russian children, then Russian kids will have to die."
That monstrous choice cannot exist. A threat to the lives of children in any other land is a threat to the lives of own children. Death in a global war would not distinguish between children of different nationalities. The future of all children, everywhere in the world, depends, on peace.
Four years ago, in the spring of 1949, at a peace rally I attended in Marseilles, France, a lovely young girl with long flowing hair gave me a bouquet of roses. With the flowers she handed me a carefully hand-printed message: "Dear friend of France, we offer you these roses. Take them to the United States. They will show our love for the mothers, the fathers and the workers of your great country. And tell them we will do everything we can to keep the peace. The children of France do not want ever again to know war."
From children in all parts of the world comes the same message.
"I am only a little girl," writes a child in Poland, "but I already know quite well what war is, because my daddy was killed in the war. I don't want any more war. I would like all children to have parents and there should be no more towns and villages burnt down."
A Japanese boy of eleven writes: "We lost our father and mother in the war. I cannot forget this sorrow forever. I wish all wars to be ceased and a happy country to be built."
"It is my dream," writes a fourteen-year-old girl in Moscow, "that there never, never shall be any more wars and that all the mothers and children on earth may live happy and in peace."
In a letter to the United Nations Assembly, from a group of children in a ninth-grade church school class in Minneapolis, Minnesota, these words occur: "Please remember the children while you are deciding whether or not to destroy the world. Please keep talking until you find a way to agree.
. . Can't we all stay in our own countries, cooperating with each other for a better world? . . . Listen, don't you hear our cries?"
Our answer must be yes-yes, we hear the voices of our children.
And the way in which we answer their demand for peace will be the measure of our love for them.
Page 11, (left) International News, (right) Wide World; page 18, International News; page 80, International News; page 85, International News; page 89, Jerry May, Boy Scouts of America; page 124. International News; page 134, Wide World; page 137, (upper) New York Daily News, (lower) Wide World; page 170, International News; page 199. Look Magazine; page 212. Rosalie Gwathmey, Arts, Sciences and Professions Photography Workshop; page 233, David Myers, National Child Labor Committee; page 242, George McMillan, Lifephoto.
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