Television Broadcast: "The People Ask the President."
[ Broadcast from the Sheraton-Park Hotel, Washington, D.C. ]
THE PRESIDENT. It is really a great privilege to welcome you here tonight. I have looked forward for a long time to a chance to talk to a sort of a cross section of America and talk about the things that are on their minds, except those that are on mine, thinking that I know what you are thinking.
Now, I know that among you there are Republicans and Democrats and Independents, and first voters, everything. And I am not going to ask you to vote for anyone, except this I will ask you, the only request: please vote, that is all, please vote.
We will try to run this like a press conference, like we do over in the State, War, Navy Building; you will raise your hand and as quickly as I pick you out you get up and someone will be there with a microphone so that your identification can be heard and your question.
Now before we start I want to do one thing that is more or less normal in my press conference.
I have an announcement. I have got the best announcement that I think I could possibly make to America tonight.
The progress made in the settlement of the Suez dispute this afternoon at the United Nations is most gratifying. Egypt, Britain and France have met, through their foreign ministers, and agreed on a set of principles on which to negotiate; and it looks like here is a very great crisis that is behind us. I don't mean to say that we are completely out of the woods, but I talked to the Secretary of State just before I came over here tonight and I will tell you that in both his heart and mine at least, there is a very great prayer of thanksgiving.
We will go to the first question.
Q. Marshall Beverley: I'm Marshall Beverley of Alexandria, Virginia, a discerning Democrat, one of millions. I nominated you in Richmond in 1948, at the Virginia Democratic Convention, the first one you were nominated and you did not accept and we were sorry but are still with you now, Mr. President.
Mr. President, the opposition states that you are not in charge of the Government. I say you are. Mr. President, will you tell the Nation who is in charge, sir? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. First of all, I must thank you for this persistent loyalty which, I assure you, I most deeply appreciate.
Now, someone asked me a question like that sometime ago. I really believe the people that could give you the best evidence are the people of the Cabinet, the people on my staff, my associates, the people that I have worked with in war and in peace. But I will tell you this, if I am not running the executive part of this Government, then I am the man that is mostly fooled in this Nation. [Laughter]
Q. Stephen Frolich: Mr. President, my name is Stephen Frolich. I live in Princeton, New Jersey.
Some people think that I am lucky because I won $32,000 on one of our quiz programs, the $64,000 Question, but I think my luckiest day really was June 13, 1953, when I became an American citizen.
My wife, Billie, was here with my children, but my children made so much noise my wife had to take them out. You know how it is. She is from Texas, a native Texan. That is where I met and married her, and that is where I became a citizen.
I don't know whether you can see, Mr. President, but those cuff links are in the shape of Texas. When I became a citizen, my friends in Texas told me it would take me 5 years to become a citizen and another 5 years to become a "native son" down there.
The subject on which I won $32,000 was on American history. I have made a study of it and during the study I learned a lot, of course, about Presidents and Vice Presidents of this country.
And I think, Mr. President, that you certainly are the man for the job.
I also think, Mr. President, that Vice President Nixon has made a wonderful record for himself when I look into my books and study and compare, and I know that I know a lot about you, Mr. President.
And I have learned a lot about Vice President Nixon, too. know that he was a Representative and a Senator but there are very many amongst us who do not know very much about the Vice President, so I wonder whether you could tell us what sort of a man Vice President Nixon really is.
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Nixon is a man of--of course you know he is young. But on top of that Mr. Nixon is a man who studies, informs himself. I have known him of course only since he is Vice President, but I have known his history before that.
He was an officer in the Navy during the war serving on active duty. He came out and served in the Congress and the Senate. In these last 4 years he has been present at every important conference held in Government. He participates in those conferences. He has gone as my representative, I believe, to 32 different countries, or something of that kind, and every one of those countries has sent back wonderful reports about his work in forming new friends for America. He is a man who has matured rapidly, who is, as I see it, one with me in believing in the kind of program that we have placed before the Legislature as representative of this administration's effort to better America.
Q. Edward Kubiske: I am from Detroit, Michigan. I work for Plymouth Motor Car Corporation. I am a member of the American Automobile Workers of America, CIO Local 51.
I for one will vote for you, that is positive. I am not going to be prejudiced to vote otherwise, I am going to vote for you, I have been settled in my mind on that as a result of your past record.
In talking to the fellows at the shop, I have found that there are a lot of them needed enlightening as to your labor record, and your program.
Some fellows feel that the Democratic Party is on their side. I happen to know that you are on their side even more so. I have a record here to prove it, of your accomplishments on labor.
I have also the record here to compare with your record prior to 1952, and there is hardly any comparison.
And I wish, Mr. President, that you would explain and enlighten my buddies back home as to your stand on labor, unions, and the things that they are trying to do.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, let me say this: I belong to a family of boys who were raised in meager circumstances in central Kansas, and every one of us earned our way as we went along, and it never occurred to us that we were poor, but we were.
My workweek the last year before I went to West Point was 84 hours, 7 nights a week, 12 hours a night, and I thought I had a good job. Now, when I see what unions have done for the working man of America as compared to that record you can well imagine that I don't have to have any doubt in my mind as to what they have done for America as a whole.
Now, there have been, I think, certain defects in the laws. I have recommended, I think it is three times now, changes in the Taft-Hartley Act that I think would be fairer for labor, particularly the one that requires them to take an oath of loyalty, does not require an employer, and also the one that is called-the economic difficulty, you know, about the voting on jurisdictional matters.
Well, none of those have been passed, they have always been stopped and blocked in the Congress. But at the same time we have pushed ahead with many things.
Now it is true that when I recommended the increase in the minimum wage law, in the Congress the opposition put an additional 10 cents for what I thought was the proper, the big thing to do to spread that minimum wage law to get to more people. The higher you raise it before you get a spread, I am afraid it is going to be difficult in getting these fellows who are not under it yet, these working men and women--it's going to be more difficult. I want more people under it.
In the meantime, wages have been raised and the cost of living has been extraordinarily stable in the last 3 years. It is true that you can say technically the cost of living is high. It has gone up 2 1/2 percent since we have been in, but it went up 45 percent or more in the last 7 years of the preceding administration.
So that all in all, the workman has been improving his unions and strength, and he has been improving his pay, he has been improving in every single thing, social security, unemployment insurance, and we have supported those things. So I believe that if the laboring man today--and that really should include all America when you come down to it, we all ought to be laboring for our living and most of us do--if they will look at the record, I think they will find nothing here that they can say this administration is their enemy; on the contrary, they are good friends.
Q. John Stone: I am John Stone from Watertown, in northern New York State, and with me is my wife, Mrs. Stone.
We are dairy farmers, we operate a 40 milking cow herd. In the Northeast we have recognized the fact that the Federal milk marketing orders have stabilized our markets and we hope they will continue to do so. However, at this time, we wonder what the soil bank, overall soil bank program has to offer to farmers of the Northeast.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, the orders will continue. That I can assure you.
Secondly, the soil bank program probably doesn't have as direct and marked an influence on you as it does farmers in some other forms of the industry; but if you have any poor cropland, take it out, put it in grass or trees, and you get Government payments for doing so.
And then, of course, we must not forget this: the overall effect of the soil bank is bound to get a better balance among prices and get all prices really moving up into the levels that they should be to be equal on the cost-price ratio, to all other costs and prices in the Nation. That is what will help you in the overall way.
Q. Mrs. B. B. Jackson: I am from Dallas, Texas. This is my son, Boris III. He is 18 years of age, and a student at Southern Methodist University. As a mother, I am vitally interested in the draft issue. Stevenson says we do not need the draft. You say we do. Mr. President, will you tell us your reasons for our need of the draft?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, there are a number of reasons.
First of all, as of now, our strength that we have to maintain on the very finest military advice that we can get in this world, because there are no better soldiers, sailors, and airmen than the United States possesses, is something on the order of three million. Maybe we will get it down a little below that in the foreseeable future, but not too much.
Experience has shown that when we go beyond 1,500,000 you simply cannot get volunteers.
Now to get these additional men we have to have some method that distributes the load properly, evenly and fairly. We try to keep these calls down to the lowest possible number; but without the draft, first of all, we don't even get as many volunteers as we do with it because people volunteer so they can go into the services they want, where they want, and the time they want. But with the draft we do get this job of defending America distributed fairly properly, get people trained so that veterans are not the ones that have to go back into the Army after they have already served so much that they deserve our gratitude.
Now, that is the general reason.
Q. Dr. J. C. Austin: This is Austin from Chicago, pastor of the Pilgrim Baptist Church for over 30 years. I was in the Democrat Party for 20 years, and you brought me out.
There are many fine points of your life and your administration I admire. But one stands out above everything else with me.
My intricate problem as a pastor is that of the homes of my parishioners, and I find my problem runs throughout the Nation--torn and broken homes.
The beauty of your home, with your wife by your side, helping you go forward, the union of your home, your children, your grandchildren, a real home life, is what America needs as a pattern and as a philosophy.
So I have the feeling that you have good will toward all mankind running out of that kind of a home. It runs over to your neighbors; it runs to foreign nations. And I want to ask, will you be an ambassador of good will to all the homes in America so that we can be one Nation indivisible?
THE PRESIDENT. First of all, sir, I should like to thank you for that talk and I assure you I am speaking also for Mrs. Eisenhower who is watching this program. She will be very, very pleased that you said what you did.
Now, I agree with you, the home is the basis of our civilization. We must do everything we can to make those homes not only places for enjoyment for all of us but places that do establish the moral character that this Nation itself is going to follow, because unless our homes are intact and solid, and we get there when we are young children the standards that we must observe throughout life, well, then, I am afraid, in the long run the Nation will not be as strong as it otherwise could.
Q. Lewis Douglas: I am Lewis Douglas, native of Arizona where I have my permanent home, Mr. President. On four occasions I was elected as a Democrat to represent my State in the Congress and in a very modest way I have tried to serve our country under Democratic administrations.
But I am deeply convinced that your re-election will best serve the interests of the American people.
For more than a quarter of a century there has been an increasingly strong tendency among candidates, Republicans as well as Democrats, to make irresponsible and even reckless statements, to stir up prejudice and bitterness among groups of Americans, to indict the motives and impugn the character of those with whom they disagree. Mr. President, you have been a wholesome exception to this tendency. I have not agreed with you, sir, on every question, but you have brought to American politics an unusual integrity, a quality of tolerance which encourages harmony and not discord, unity and not division, trust and not distrust, and in the administration of your office, sir, you have arisen above the pettiness of a partisan politician. But more important in the forum of international affairs you speak with an authority which no other American possesses. And in these uncertain times this voice of authority is needed to preserve the peace no matter how uneasy a peace it may be, for an uneasy peace is far better than a cruel war.
Now, I had intended, Mr. President, before your announcement about the course of the discussions about Suez, to ask a question. I had detected in the British press a note of skepticism as to the reliance which could be placed upon the continuity of the policy which we had publicly announced. I wonder, sir, whether you could make any comment.
THE PRESIDENT. Before I answer, let me thank you very, very much for that tremendous compliment you paid me by what you said. I am delighted we called this meeting tonight. There are things going out over the air that really warm my heart.
I would say this about the British misunderstanding of some of our motives. These motives, these purposes, these policies, were formulated at the beginning of this thing. We sat down and we were determined to pursue a course that would not lead to war.
We were certain that negotiation could settle this problem. We of course had this: we don't want to antagonize anybody in this world, because peace must be with justice or, in the long run, it would be no peace. So we want to be just. We certainly wanted to be fair to our great allies in the West. We wanted to be equally fair to all the Arab world.
Now, it has been a hard and weary row; and many sleepless hours as you know, worrisome hours, have gone into this. But it looks at least like we have taken one long step forward, and I am sure the populations of Europe will begin gradually to understand that the steadfast adherence of this Government to one single policy has borne fruit.
Q. Fred Pelka: Mr. President, my name is Fred Pelka. I come from Depew, New York. I work presently at the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington here. I have heard rumors to the effect that instead of becoming General of the Army that there was a chance at one time that you may have become Admiral of the Navy. I wonder if you could explain or elaborate for us a little bit on that point, sir.
THE PRESIDENT. There is now in the Naval Service retired a very great friend of mine who is the first one who informed me in any detail about the two academies. He was my very great friend out in the central Kansas area, and I wanted to go to Annapolis with him because that was where he was going. We went ahead and, frankly, I passed the examinations, and then we discovered that I was too old to go to Annapolis because in those days the ages for the two, the entrance ages, were not the same.
So the Senator gave me a West Point appointment in lieu of the Annapolis one which I sought originally; that is true.
Q. Miss Laddie Zumwalt: I am Laddie Zumwalt. I am 19 years old and a sophomore at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky.
This November I will be voting in my first presidential election and I feel quite fortunate to be doing so because Kentucky is one of the few States that has an 18-year-old vote. Mr. President, I would like to ask you what do you think about all of the States having an 18-year-old vote?
THE PRESIDENT. Of course you know it is a matter for the States to decide.
I have never said exactly 18. This is what I started out and possibly it is rather thin philosophy, but it was very near and dear to me in the war. Young fellows were coming over and fighting and I said if they are old enough to fight they are old enough to vote.
Now, it is perfectly true that they usually didn't get to Europe and into the fighting lines until they were 19; I possibly had 19 more in mind than 18. But the fact is I do believe when we throw in this modern time these great burdens on the youngsters they ought to have the right to vote. And the only thing they have to do to justify it in my opinion is to go vote. If they will do it and show the example in Kentucky and, I believe, in Georgia that they will do it, I think that others will follow in the same pathway; and I would be delighted.
Q. Mrs. Dorothy Beckley: My name is Dorothy Beckley. I am a native of Detroit, Michigan, but I have lived in Washington, D.C., since 1900. I am a widow, I have three sons aged 25, and 23, and two daughters who are two of my sons' wives, and a grandson 2 years old.
I have been interested in the comment reported in the Washington Post of last Friday which reads, "Adlai attacks GOP Civil Rights Claims," the smaller caption reads, "Harlem speech by candidate challenges foe on racial issue." And then I quote from the exact words of the candidate on the streets of Harlem, "When the President was presented with an opportunity for great national leadership in this field"--he means civil rights--"he was virtually silent." I am referring to the Supreme Court decision on desegregation in the public schools.
Mr. President, I am eager to hear your answer to that.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, while following my custom--I don't answer him directly--I will tell you what I think about it: For many years I have urged that the United States is never going to be completely easy with its conscience until we are according to everyone that equality before the law and that equality and opportunity that is visualized by our Constitution.
All that the Supreme Court decision did was to place or to devise a method by which this would eventually be brought about in our schools.
Now, I have preached through all these years this: this is a problem that really comes down finally into the heart--as much as it does into the head.
We must get understanding each of the other's view, we must get tolerance, but we must make progress.
I believe, in this one, that violence is to be deplored just as strongly as we know how.
I believe every true American should deplore any violence in it, but I believe every true American does want to see progress proceeding until finally the equality is not only known by all, it's felt by all, right down deep within them.
Now, as you know, we have, I believe, eliminated all of the segregation that I know of, at least, on official terms in Washington. We have tried to eliminate it in all of the Government contracts. We have eliminated it from the services, and so on. We have been pursuing this quietly, not tub-thumping, and we have not tried to claim political credit.
This is a matter of justice, not of anything else. That is the way I see it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am warned we are running out of time, but I do tell you this: I am going to stay here as long as anyone wants to. If we go off the air, why, all right, but I will stay here because I am thoroughly enjoying this.
Q. Miss Adelaide O'Mara: Miss O'Mara of Brooklyn, New York. I am a stenographer. I want to thank you for your letter that you sent me regarding an ad that I put in the subways in New York City listing the Ten Commandments. I know from your letter that you are a deeply religious man and I know from our papers--we all know from the newspapers our young people lack spiritual guidance.
Could you tell us if we could help in any way to get the spiritual guidance into our schools all over the Nation?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course we do have this in our Constitution: the church and the state are not to be brought together; therefore there have been all sorts of rulings that affect the teaching of religion in school. However, I have always felt that the history of religion ought to be taught, because as a historical fact religion has had the effect with us of giving us the undergirding for our whole system of civilization.
All of the great qualities we find in the Bill of Rights spring right out of our forefathers' statement, men are endowed by their Creator--not by anybody else--by their Creator with certain rights, and those are incorporated in our Bill of Rights. And it seems to me that the history, at least, of religion and its effect on our civilization should be taught. But we are not now, when we are talking moral values, we are not necessarily talking any religion; we are talking honesty and integrity--in Government and in the home, in the school and everywhere in our whole lives. That is really what we are getting at, at the moment, as I see it.
Q. Mrs. Chester Wright: Mr. President, I am Mrs. Chester Wright from Miami, Florida. My husband and I are registered Democrats for Eisenhower; we are retired people. Among our friends in Florida are many retired people, and their main problems are how to augment their income, how to find interesting things to do in their leisure time, and how to meet their health problems in their advancing years. My question is, Mr. President, what does the Federal Government propose to do to aid these retired people?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, they propose to do plenty and are-well, I say are--not plenty, they are doing a lot and they expect to do more. Among other things, you know social security has been extended to many more people in the last couple of years, ten million more. We have gone into special housing programs for the aged. There has been special medical research in the diseases of the aged. There have been special programs started in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare so that the people that are chronically ill, although not acutely ill, could have proper hospital care or proper care within a hospital center. All of that kind of thing is being done and more will be done. But the great thing is, as I see it, to give them finally the income on which they can live in self-respect and dignity, even if they don't live quite as actively as they did when they were younger.
Q. Kenneth Mathews: Mr. President, I am Kenneth Mathews, Arlington County, Virginia, an accountant. One of the issues of the 1952 campaign was waste in Government. The Hoover Commission was appointed and I believe it is generally agreed it did a good job; its recommendations were sound. However, only some of the recommendations, a small percentage, have been adopted. My question is, why haven't more of the Hoover committee's recommendations been followed?
THE PRESIDENT. Because primarily, it is this: it is a very slow process to change the administrative habits of a whole Government numbering two and a half million civilian employees. For example, an accounting system that was devised in the Defense Department with the aid of every expert accountant, firms, that could be brought in there--once having been agreed on, the job of just getting that accounting system started in the Defense Department and then spread to the Government they estimated, as I remember, would take 2 years in itself.
Now, this is not to say that a major part of these programs, as they affect the money end of it, have not already been either put into effect or are going into effect; or bills are ready to be put before Congress where legislation is required. Now, there are a few that are rejected because the people in charge feel that the experience of the Commission wasn't quite equaled in that particular point. But in general, I should say that by the time we are done 85 to 95 percent of these recommendations will be adopted.
Q. Comdr. Ovid Foote: Mr. President, I am Ovid Foote, a commander in the Navy, from Falls Church, Virginia.
As we all know, we have had trouble with our overseas housing for all our military personnel, having experience myself, and undoubtedly, you have, too. Right now, we are moving families home because there is no housing for them in some areas. I ask what is going to be done about this situation?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, Commander, the big thing to do is to get things straightened out so we can bring our troops and our services home and have them stationed at home. That is the best answer to this whole thing.
Maybe we can't bring them all, but--those that do stay--there is never going to Cease, as long as I am here, every possible effort to get them decent housing.
The last one, as you know, is this Capehart project which looks like it is going to be a very, very good thing because it will be cheaper and it will give people houses really fit to live in instead of that Wherry housing, which often was way below standard.
Now, as you know, the foreign thing does impose more problems than does the domestic, because there you build something and you may be moving out of it next year. I think, though, as far as our calculations can go as to the permanent garrison needed there, the building will go on, so that this situation will be corrected.
Q. Clarence Frederick: I am Clarence Frederick from Burlington, Wisconsin. I rent a 300-acre farm. Do you consider the large agricultural surplus a farm problem and if so, what do you intend to do about it?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have been working on it 3½ years; you bet I consider it a very heavy problem. For example, last year on the operations of the surpluses alone we lost one billion three hundred million--that is, after we bought these surpluses up, what we disposed of last year were sold at one billion three hundred million less than we paid for them. Now, that in itself isn't any great damage to the United States if at the same time that we are paying that kind of money we are reducing those surpluses so that finally market conditions themselves will bring up these prices. Instead of that the surpluses have been building up and up and up, until today we are paying one million dollars every single day, three hundred sixty-five million dollars a year, to store it; and that money is not going into the farmer's pocket. It wouldn't be so bad if it was going into the farmer's pocket. It isn't, it is just money that is spent for storing this thing in dead storage.
So what we are doing is this: first of all, we are trying to recoup markets, first by encouraging greater and better diets among our own people, because there is the finest place to sell farm products, I assure you--milk programs, lunch programs, education through the services, in the dairy farms and all of that, trying to build up the diet of America.
Next, in the foreign markets we are going everywhere, doing everything we can, taking soft currencies, using those soft currencies in the countries where we get them to do something we think will further the interests of the United States, doing everything possible to cut them down.
And then, of course, the soil bank. The soil bank is brought along to pay for keeping our country for our children, you might say, making sure that it doesn't wash down in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf, and the Pacific, so that when our grandchildren come along and the rest of them, they have got a continent to work on, too. So by doing that and paying the farmer something for it so he gets a present income, we are preserving the soil and the water and, at the same time, cutting down these surpluses.
Q. Isadore Siegel: My name is Isadore Siegel, I live in the Bronx, New York. I work for David Crystal, 498 Seventh Avenue. We make dresses, skirts, blouses, and we also make sport shirts, Mr. President; I think, Mr. President, you have some of them.
For 25 years I was a member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, an independent voter. I voted for you in 1952. I didn't make up my mind yet in this election.
You have a lot of people that are big shots in the Cabinet. I want to ask you, Mr. President, do you think of all the working people alike, like in the big business?
THE PRESIDENT. I said a little while ago something of my own background. How I could ever forget this: people make up America! If you say you are patriotic it means this: you are not just thinking of the land from Florida to Oregon or from San Diego to Portland, Maine; you are thinking of the people that populate this country. They have something in common with you, pride in their citizenship. That is the most precious thing that anyone can have. Therefore, you or anybody else is just as important to me as any millionaire that ever walked the earth.
Now, I have three or four very successful businessmen in the Cabinet. My friend, the Defense Department is spending something like forty billion dollars a year of our money. Most of that goes into, or a great deal of it, into procurement of things-tanks and planes and guns and ammunition and all of these modern weapons. Who would you rather have in charge of that, some failure that never did anything or a successful businessman? I got the head of the biggest company I could go to, General Motors, and said, "Will you come in and do this for us?" I think he has been doing a good job.
I have got another businessman of that same kind in charge of the Treasury, because he is the kind of man that doesn't just hoard money, he uses money for the good of America, to build jobs. Why shouldn't he be a businessman?
There is a businessman in the Commerce Department, a very successful small-business man, jewelry and that kind of thing, a very excellent man. But I have got Jim Mitchell in the Department of Labor, and he is the best Department of Labor man that we have ever had in the history of the whole office.
Now, you go right down through it. We have got lawyers; we have got the Secretary of Agriculture who, I suppose, hasn't a cent. I am told--he never told me this himself--but he is an elder in the Mormon Church, and I am told they get not a cent from the time they accept that place; their expenses are paid and they don't get a nickel. That is what I have heard. Anyway, I know he is a poor man.
Now, we have all kinds of people in that Cabinet, and I assure you they are doing one thing--they are working day and night for your benefit and mine.
Q. Mrs. Samuel Harper: I am Mrs. Samuel Harper from Portland, Maine. My husband and I have come down, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy birthday. [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much.
Q. Mrs. Harper: I am a little ahead of time, I know, but I would also like to ask you now, what would you like most for your birthday?
THE PRESIDENT. Mrs. Harper, I've thought about that for some days now, because I have had that question in letters, postcards, notes. I don't know of a single thing in this world, of material character, that could add to my happiness, not a thing.
I do say this: if I could have the best birthday present I could ever have, it would be exactly the same as that of every other American--an assurance that a just peace was on the horizon and coming to us that we were going to enjoy.
Indeed, if I could have a birthday present in a little bit more personal terms, if I could be sure that every individual in America on Sunday, my birthday, would pause for just one second and say, "I am dedicated to peace," one second, I wouldn't care when it was, from midnight to midnight, that would be the best birthday present I could have. [Applause]
Q. John E. Medaris: I almost called you General.
The gentleman on my right over there, and your comments in answer to his question, so excited me that I had to say this.
My name is John Medaris, and I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, by the way, and I am what one might call a smallbusiness man. I make an electronic device.
Now, curiously, with all this nonsense about big business and small business, and so forth, I wanted to say this to you, sir: that honestly I don't feel that we could exist without the help of these larger ones.
[Broadcasting of the program was discontinued at this point. Mr. Medaris continued speaking.]
We are off the air, so now I can talk. [Laughter]
They give credit or, let's say, lenient help, so that with our small financing we can help somebody just a little bit smaller, you see. They are patient, they give us technical assistance which we couldn't afford, and they help a little outfit get solid and dynamic, and finally maybe it would become a bigger one, and then somebody else will argue about it!
I have no question. I just want to say I think everything is wonderful, and it is healthy, and that is it.
THE PRESIDENT. I am glad you said that because every word you say is true. But like all good things abuses can finally come out of it. I think anything that was ever invented by man can be used for good or for evil. Fire, gunpowder, medicines, poison can be used for good or it can be used for evil.
Now, big business at one time in our country got so big that it became the dominant power. It was more powerful in dictating the economic pattern this country was to follow than was the Government--and we got the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
Now no one will maintain that every part of those laws was alway perfect, but in the main they were there to allow the Government to step in and stop mergers and any kind of thing that looked like they were getting ready to squeeze you out rather than to help you. So, I believe the Attorney General told me, in 1955 fifty-four antitrust suits were instituted by the Government. This is the Government's way of making sure we never go over to that other extreme.
We get the benefits of bigness. We get our cheap cars, our cheap radios, our cheap things made in the very finest style and durability that can be gotten. We get them just as efficiently and as rapidly as we can but we do not let them get so big they dominate the rest of us.
Now I am no millionaire and from what you say you are not.
Q. Mr. Medaris: No, of course not.
THE PRESIDENT. So we are trying to keep on the side of keeping these boys from bossing us. [Applause]
There is a dinner outside. It is a Citizens-for-Eisenhower dinner that I promised to drop in for just a second on the way home. But I cannot leave here without again thanking you people for taking the time out of your busy lives to come down here and talk these things over.
Frankly I could sit here and talk all night because I learn probably a lot more than you do out of meetings like this. I seek them, and as I say, I do hope I learn.
Thank you, every one of you. I am delighted that you came.
Note: The broadcast was presented by the "Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon" organization and originated in the Continental Room of the Sheraton-Park Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Television Broadcast: "The People Ask the President." Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233389