Tampa Tribune/February 26, 1949
Tom Dewey certainly was on solid ground when he dared any old-fashioned Republican “to go out and try to get elected in any typical community” on a platform rejecting social security generally, and “vigorous protection of the rights of labor.”
The old-fashioned Republican would be massacred. But he would go down a Republican.
Governor Dewey often has said that the most important thing in politics is to get elected. But when he puts himself up for President of the United States a man ought to run under his true colors, and we now learn by his own admission that Tom Dewey isn’t a Republican at all.
When he challenged any real Republican to try to get elected in any “typical American community” on a platform excluding all the European socialistic and Nazi-Fascist enticements to the greed and weakness of any people, he really said the typical Americans had no intelligent interest in the kind of government guaranteed them by their Constitution. I think he is right, but I am not going to say it is a good thing for the United States.
Unemployment insurance violates the spirit of that Constitution. There is nothing in the text that could possibly be construed to mean that the authors intended that a man out of work, for any reason, should be paid money out of the public treasury even by a fictitious “insurance” fund. Such a fund cannot be profitably “invested” in competition with private capital. In dead storage it is a liability. So it is spent for going expenses and is a minus quantity.
The founding fathers knew human nature and they knew, as we soon learned when we tried unemployment insurance, that the steadiest clients would be the shiftless people, the loafers and whiners. In the experiments which we have tried, these apprehensions were quickly verified.
Certainly any true Republican who proposed the abolition of such lures would be licked. But this nation was founded to be a republic, not a democracy. Under a republican system you frankly assume that the people have not sense enough to resist the temptation of ruinous counsel and you do not let them vote on propositions which may be paraphrased as: “Do you want $1000 free out of the public treasury? Yes … No ”
Under the republican system you only let them vote for public officials, including legislators, who are presumed to be more intelligent and honest than the average run of voters. And you leave it to them to decide what to do with public money and how to raise it, trusting them to stay inside the Constitution in all their decisions.
I think it is too late now to break the American people abruptly of the habit of looking to the government for everything. Dewey has got the best of me there. But he isn’t a Republican. He is a New Dealer, a Socialist, like Roosevelt and his party. A Republican wouldn’t endorse these European follies and ask for more. Under the unemployment dole, the unions, controlling 15 million of our best jobs, have the power, enacted into federal law, to call out all those 10 or 15 million people on strike and tap the various treasuries for the dole for the whole army of them.
When they called out the auto workers for 100 days and simultaneously struck the steel industry, the unemployment soon backed up into the tributary lines of work. And in times of normal commerce the unemployment would have gone forward from the steel mills and automobile plants to affect the white collar and service peoples, all eligible for a public dole because two men, Walter Reuther, of the auto workers, and Philip Murray, of the steel workers, for reasons of internal union politics, decided they must make these enormous strikes. Few men could break the state unemployment systems by arbitrary union action, at will.
Those strikes come under the heading of “vigorous protection of the rights of labor,” which Dewey would write into the credo of his imitation New Deal. In 1944 he gave the Wagner Act his unqualified endorsement. And only by the powers conferred through that act were Reuther and Murray enabled to pull those strikes.
Our people never gave their government the right to check off any percentage of their earnings. Congress and the legislatures just did it. That money belongs to them, absolutely, as earned. Except in case of garnishee on judgment no part of it may be legally snatched. But the New Deal saw the unions getting away with it, so Roosevelt tried it with a small grab for social security and he got away with that. Now the unions are proposing that the government raise its grab to 8 or 10 per cent for medical service, old age pensions and all those things which Dewey calls, “social security generally.”
Why not take it all and let “the government” provide the quarters, the rations and standardized clothing, the standardized education and the consolations of a state religion and relieve the “typical American” of all the petty responsibilities and liberties of life in the total-security state? If the legislative branch can decide how a man must spend the first 10 per cent of his wages why not 100 per cent?