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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, October 25, 1931, Image 77

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1931-10-25/ed-1/seq-77/

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A Plain Statement From Walter S. Gifford\
the President's Director of Unemployment
Relief on Hozv to Get Through Fall and
Winter Without Tax Increases for a
Federal Subsidy to the Jobless.
Hoover’s new generalissimo of
unemployment relief, is direct
ing the administration’s last
determined stand against de
mands for direct Federal relief
to the jobless—the dole, in one form or another,
as it has been christened by those who oppose It.
American business leaders, realizing that they
and their industries would have to bear the
brunt of additional taxation which would be
necessary if the dole system should be estab
lished, have taken the lead in opposing any
legislation which might be the opening wedge
for that dreaded expedient.
So President Hoover has called in one of
the biggest of the leaders of big business—Mr.
Gifford is president of the American Telephone
and Telegraph Co. —and said, in effect:
“Now, Mr. Gifford, let us see you and your
big business colleagues make the dole unneces
• Doubtless the President never used the words
Just quoted, but that is the significance of his
Mr. Gifford is the director of “The Presi
dent's Organization on Unemployment Relief,’*
to give it its official title. He is surrounded
by an advisory committee, the membership of
which reads like a directory of American
Included are the presidents and other offi
cials of the Nation’s biggest industries: Owen
D. Young of General Electric, Walter Teagle
of Standard Oil. Daniel Willard of the Bal
timore Sc Ohio Railroad and Pierre du Pont,
to mention only a few/
A SURVEY of the men on the advisory com
mittee suggests that two important qual
ifications may have determined their se
lection :
-1. Ability to raise funds with which to al
leviate the immediate suffering caused by wide
spread unemployment.
2. Influence which may be utilized to induce
large industrial organizations to minimize un
employment as much as possible through such
devices as staggered or guaranteed employment,"
avoidance of wage cuts wherever possible and
similar methods.
- Whether or not the Advisory Committee was
chosen on the above basis, its members cer
tainly possess the qualifications mentioned.
While Mr. Gifford is laboring under the ever
present shadow of a Federal dole system, he
is not wasting any time discussing the merits
or demerits of that proposal. In fact, he spe
cifically refuses to discuss it.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to
it,” is the answer he gave Washington corre
spondents the day he took office, in response to
questions as to his attitude on direct Federal
Pending the possible necessity for a decision
about crossing that bridge, Mr. Gifford thinks
the problem of unemployment relief and event
ual restoration of prosperity can be solved if
every citizen will pitch in during the coming
Winter and do everything possible to relieve
such cases of distress as may come to the in
dividual citizen’s attention.
HE has no patience with those who can do
nothing but criticize public officials for
alleged failure to bring forth adequate
remedies. To illustrate this point, Mr. Gifford
tells the story of a war-time official who
stormed into an associate's office damming
every one connected with the conduct of the war
and ending with an announcement that he
was going to resign. The associate sat back
and asked:
“Whose war is this you are going to resign
“That is a pertinent question now,” Mr.
Gifford says. “Whose depression is this?” If,
as lias been said, a fundamental cause of it is
greed, who are they that didn’t add their part?
“This is a democracy of blame as well Its
opportunity. We were all in it — flapper,
financier, newspaper man and manufacturers,
laborers and politicians. It is true that its evil
effects have been pretty widely distributed, nev
“Fixing the blame is the occupation of the
people who have lost their nerve. Finding the
causes and planning the future is the part for
the constructive-minded people.”
Mr. Gifford has his own distinctive name
for that rather considerable element in his
own financial strata who advocate a deflation
of wages and living standards to bring back
“the good old times."
“They are of the Order of the Wufus Birds,”
he says. “As you know these interesting birds
fly backward to keep the wind out of their
•yes and they are not Interested in where they
are going, but only in where they have been."
One of Mr. Gifford’s first acts after assum
ing his new office was to announce the appoint
ment of Owen D. Young as chairman of the
Committee on Mobilization of Relief Resources.
That is generally known as the Fund Raising
Committee, but Mr. Gifford has been careful
to point out that his organization is not going
to engage in the raising of any general relief
It is not a national fund but a Nation-wide
drive for local funds to be spent in the com
munities where they are raised that he has in
mind. The function of the Young Committee
is to stimulate and assist local organizations
and communities in local drives for contribu
tions, whether from private resources or local
Mr. Gifford is firmly wedded to the theory
that relief must be financed and administered
locally as far as possible. Every town or city
should endeavor to meet its own problems, he
says. If the municipality cannot handle the
situation then the county should aid, and if
the county resources are inadequate then the
State government should step in.
If State resources are not sufficient—well,
that is the bridge he will cross when he
comes to it.
THE organization he heads 1s active contin
ually In making suggestions as to how
individuals as well as local communities can
y JPEm V m'
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Walter S. Gifford, generalissimo of unemployment relief. A sketch hy Artist
Charles OUerbloom.
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A scene in the land of the dole. A crowd of jobless men in England lined up to
draw their unemployment allowances from the government. A scene President
Hoover s advisers hope need not be duplicated in the United States.
assist the jobless. One of the favorite prescrip
tions is for each householder to survey his
property and make a list of the improvements
which could be made to enhance its value or
To stimulate the imagination of the property
owners, a voluminous list of specific suggestions
has been prepared, including everything from
sodding down the lawn to painting the roof.
This effort is designed to combat the rather
widespread disposition to put off all but abso
lutely imperative repairs “because of the depres
The Gifford idea is that during a depression
is the ideal time for Improving property. Lit
erature circulated by his organization has
pointed out the decline of commodity and ma
terial prices, permitting substantial savings in'
repair co6ts, and the abundance of skilled and
unskilled labor readily available everywhere.
*nie general idea is that a property owner
can save money by hating improvements made
now and at the same time aid his less
fortunate fellows and help the Nation back to
normal economic conditions.
For the benefit of thoee who are deterred
from this ideal combination of philanthrophy
and self-interest through fear that they them
selves may be thrown out of work, efforts are
being made to induce large industrial organiza
tions to give assurances of continued work to
as many employes as possible.
This is the “guaranteed employment” Idea,'
designed to encourage those who have money
or job 6 to spend normally Instead of hoarding
for an anticipated rainy day.
Mr. Gifford made a favorable Impression
when he took over his new office because of
the manner in which he survived a rather
severe hazing at the hands of the Washington
newspaper correspondents.
A HUNDRED newspaper men went to his first
press conference, and it is a conservative
estimate to say that more than half of them
carried figurative chips on their shoulders. For
two years and more they had been fed on a
diet of statements about how the unemployment
situation was going to be solved by "co-ordina
tion of effort,” by “co-ordination of endeavor,”
by “mobilization c-f social forces,” and so on.
It had become a rather grim jest in Washing-*
ton newspaper circles to say that the unem
ployed need not starve so long as they were
willing to eat co-ordination and drink co
operation. since the supply of each seemed
Most of the correspondents who attended Mr.
Gifford’s first conference expected some more
co-operation and co-ordination, but Mr. Gif
ford did not speak that language. He simply
announced that he realized the unemployment
problem was very grave and that his first idea
was to see how much money could be raised to
prevent suffering. After that would be time
enough to go into the interesting and probably
important academic questions relating to what
caused the depression and how future potential
depressions could be headed off.
In the face of a machine-gun volley of ques
tions loaded with political dynamite he remained
calm and smilingly refused to be led into con
troversial academic bypaths. His job for the
moment, he said, was to see how he could help
to raise money to feed the hungry and clothe
the naked and shelter the shelterless, and 1m
did not propose to be diverted. So far he has
not been diverted.
ky|R. GIFFORD refuses to encourage any idea
,VI that some modem economic meailiH ii
going to arise and solve the depression and
unemployment problems overnight.
“In this depression,” he says, “some folks of
Intelligence, but little faith, have been calling
for immediate remedies, for strong leaders to
make everything all right at once for evsry-
Conttnued on Ten\h Pane

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