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Leonard J. Arrington Diaries – “Economics”

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What do I expect to make of myself?  A simple statement will suffice.   I expect to graduate from the U of I with a 5.5 average making Phi Beta Kappa, Delta Sigma Pho(i?), and having held one class office.  My major economics under the careful tutelage of the inimitable ?  ?  Then two years of graduate work at some good University with a scholarship giving me my Masters degree.  Then ether two years high school teaching ? or a job as an instructor at a small university.  ? a full-time instructor job as a recognized which should develop into a professorship in 15 years time and a ?ship within 25 years.  By that time enough money will be laid aside to support me through the writing of four books, all to be written in easy understandable language for the layman in which simple examples & experiences will abound.  These four books shall be:  Economics for the Farmers, Economics for the Labor, Economics for High School Students, and Problems in Applied Economics.  When this has been done I shall lay down my pen and paper, my materials and books and enroll in the course Immortality, taught by the greatest of Teachers, our Father, God.

The reputation of any group house on the campus depends upon the qualities of the individuals comprising that group.  The reputation of our House is probably becoming much better but there is still a great deal of room for improvement.  People used to feel that the LDS were a poor, dull, naïve group who had queer ideas on God, marriage, & life.  But this House, through its remarkable scholastic achievements, and through the broadmindedness & wit of its members has destroyed that old belief.  But we still lack some of the essential elements that a House must have.  The one that I think we are most offensive in is the lack of cooperation between members.  Probably I have been the worst offender in this respect but there seems to be growing the general idea that a person should only do those things that will concretely be of help to him.  This is the selfish, self-centered point of view.  The idea is “Why should I do anything for the House?  I don’t owe it anything.”  This general philosophy is reflected in lots of little things that come up from time to time.  Somebody comes in & wants some help with his studies but the guy says he is too busy.  The Church officials want you to give a talk or pray but you don’t see why they pick on you.  “Let someone else do it.  A stranger comes in and wants to know where Brandt (?) Gessel lives.   You’re reading the funnies so you look up & say “Upstairs” and go on reading.  It would have been much more cooperative & would help the House reputation a heck of a lot if you would take time out to take him upstairs to the room.  Or, if someone comes to see Tanner & has to wait a bit, to ask him to sit down, & keep him entertained: that’s why the Frats & Sororities have such a good reputation socially.  Their members cooperate.

Each fellow likes to live at the vest house on the campus.  But he forgets that in order for that to be the best House, he and every other fellow must not only show scholarship & ability in an individual way but also in a group way.  Let us forget about our own selfish motives & take a little time out for when the group needs it.

And if now you insist on a selfish reason why you should just consider the fellows in your local community who are the best-liked & most honored.  They are the guys who always have time to do things.  They are the guys who foster drives for Red Cross or the Church or for some organization.  They are the guys who can be depended upon to help but at any time

[LJAD, ca. October 15, 1937]

Up till now I have been reading another one of those books as background for my work.  The more I read the more I am beginning to get integrated about the agriculture vs. politics; or any either/or proposition.  They all work together and reinforce each other.  My Doctor’s dissertation can be on “The Economic Achievements of the Mormon Church”; or on “The Economic Achievements of the Rocky Mountain West” (which is almost the same thing).  Either would require almost the same kind of analysis that I have been thinking about for my book on “How We Make a Living”, for it would have to start with the natural resources then a description of their achievements in the different fields such as heavy industry, light industry, mining, agriculture, chemistry, etc.  In any case it would show both man’s adjustment to underlying economic facts and (well, my train of thought has been broken.  Dr. Shulenberger came by and has stood in the door talking with me for over an hour—another one of those interruptions.  The thing that makes me impatient is that all of the times I talk to people like this, I am making valuable contacts—valuable for the future.  But I ought to be in Idaho, where I can make good use of the contacts that I make.  I often feel that I am kind of wasting a lot of the time I spend with people here because when the time comes to “cash-in” on their friendship, I shall probably be in Idaho.  No doubt that is a very mercenary way to look at friendship and so I apologize.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, July 6, 1942]

Even if Germany surrenders before the winter is over we still have Japan.

The O.P.A. will probably fold up after the war, so I guess there isn’t any use hoping I can get my old job back.  There may be a chance I could get work as an economist with some other gov’t agency but it probably wouldn’t be wise.  After all, we want to settle down & enjoy each other don’t we?  If I get a gov’t job I may have to work where it isn’t congenial-like Washington, New York, Atlanta, etc.  And, gov’t jobs—especially as economists—are so uncertain.  Also you can’t exercise your initiative & resourcefulness.  You are bound down by red tape.  It’s the same with working for a big business like Sears Roebuck.

I wouldn’t mind a state gov’t. job in Idaho or Utah but wouldn’t want one in N. C.   

Dean Brown says I can have back my teaching job at State College with a raise.  Taking the job for a year would have a lot of advantages.  It would give me ample time to read up all the recent literature on economics, and to review all my notes.  I could probably pass my preliminary oral for the Ph.D., which means all I’d have left, would be the dissertation & a summer session or two.  Also we could have a pretty good salary, we could live fairly cheaply, and you could be close to your mother & sort of help her along with things.  We could worship with Dr. Townsend & find some friends among the State College faculty.  Then, after a year, we could go out West & establish our family in the heart of the mountains, & I could do work on the dissertation in spare time.

Of course there are disadvantages.  Living in Raleigh for one.  We might not be so happy there, for it’s not easy to shake off old friends or bad memories.  And if we wait a year before going West, it may be impossible to get a job there.

Another idea is for us to go West shortly after I get back.  I’d try to get some sort of work in Salt Lake City and would use spare time in getting together material for my dissertation.  I have more or less definitely made up my mind to write on the L.D.S. Economic Program.  During the summer we could go to summer school in Chapel Hill—and you could be with your mother.  After two or three years I should have my Ph.D. & we should know by then where we wanted to settle.  We would have had a chance to see the West.

I think we should follow either one of these two plans; and I want to know what you think about them.  And I really want to know what you think—don’t just say that you’ll be satisfied either way.

I definitely don’t think it would be wise for me to go to Chapel Hill & do full-time, or part-time study work.  In the first place, I couldn’t get my mind on my studies.  It would be on you.  In the second place, we couldn’t have any fun together—Chapel Hill is too intellectual.  In the third place, I wouldn’t be bringing in any income. 

Teach at State College, or some teaching or gov’t job in the West.  Those are the two alternatives.  What do you say?  Of course, if you have still another plan, we’ll consider it too.  Dr. Ratchford said he’d help me out all he could, which means he’d write a darn good recommendation for me to use in getting a job, if we decided to go West.  If we do go west, tho, we have got to consider:

1.  What to do about your mother.  We just can’t pick up & leave her—and she might not want her to come with us.  You know I love your mother & want to do the right thing for her, as well as for you.

2.  Will you be happy having ? no. 1 in our family way out west—away from your mother?  For that may be necessary.

Anyway these are things we ought to think about.  I guess you’ve been thinking about them, too.  And always remember this:  I love you more than anybody or anything in all the world, and I want to do what will be best for you in the long run, no matter what.  No matter what or where, I’ll be happy, if it’s best for you.

Ultimately, I think we both agree that we want to settle down & build our home on the outskirt of a middle-size town where we can have a small acreage, a good fruit orchard, a good garden, some livestock, horses, & chickens.  I want to teach in the morning & part of the afternoon, & spend the rest of the day with you & “the family” on the farm.  Under no conditions must we let go of that goal, sweetheart.  I just can’t wait till we get our home & you are in the kitchen ordering everybody around.  And I want us to have our picture where we will always enjoy it.  I think it must have been painted for us—the white-topped mountains, so solid, yet pointing to heaven.  The cool, refreshing stream—What I wouldn’t give to stand next to you & see it tonite.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, September 9, 1943]

The first year out of the Army, I will be studying & won’t be making anything.  And you won’t be working, either.  From the wording of the GI Bill of Rights, I doubt if I can qualify to receive that $500, plus $50 per month to go to school.  If not, we will spend all of the $1000 you have saved while I’ve been gone.  When we move West, if I take an instructor’s job at Boise I probably won’t get more than $1600 to begin with.  At the most, $2,000.  It will take many, many years for me to work up to the $4,000 that I expect to get some day.  We will have to be economical, taking our way, slowly & surely.  We will have a dignified & secure & happy old age, but we will have to deny many wants during the next, say 20 years.  This is what we have planed on & I think we can still make a go of it.  I’m just as strong for it as ever.  But I want to suggest another possible way to get your comments on it.

Let us assume I go back to school for the first year after the war.  Then I take a job with a Federal agency as an economist.  I could probably start at $3500 & be up to $4500 in 4 years.  The work would be interesting; the hours would be short; we would both learn a lot & have many experiences.  I would work wherever they sent me: maybe New York or Washington; maybe a year in South America; in 10 years, maybe settle in Washington at some permanent post there.  This would bring in more money; we’d be where we could be in the center of things.  Our life would be interesting, adventuresome, & important.  Should we prefer living & working in the West, I could get a job with one of the new industries developing in Oregon, Utah or California, or Colorado, probably eventually work up to $10,000 a year, & live pretty happily, too.

Sweet, the more I write this, the more ashamed I am getting for doubting our original plan.  I guess it all comes down to the fact that l love you so much, I want to be able to do everything for you.  I should realize, tho, that to try to make more money would mean giving up an important part of our dream.  I know, that you would 10 times rather have a simple home with happy children, with independence & security than live a tempestuous life of moving about, political dickering, etc. just to get more income.  You see how you resolve all my doubts & discouragements?  I have so much confidence in you–& so much respect for your judgment & experience.

We’ll just hold on to our dream & plan for the future.  It may be necessary for us to change a part of them, but we will never relent on any essential part of it: our home, family, work & play together will always come first.  I suppose I’m just a little disappointed that I don’t make any more than I do, so I could send some home.  But I realize our great contribution will be in peacetime, & nothing must jeopardize that.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Friday, 16 June 1944]

Today I obtained the names of two economic instructors at an Italian University near here.  If I can get a pass I’m going to visit them in order to find out what they are studying here.  The European system of college education is quite different from the American.  As soon as I learn more about it I’ll write to you about it. 

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Monday, 18 September 1944]

Today I found a very important economic book in the Red Cross library, The End of Economic Man,” by Peter Drucker, son of a Chapel Hill econ. Professor.  I read about 100 pages in it, since it is pretty fast reading.  Also attended Red Cross Italian & French classes & had a talk with this University student who works here.  She was telling me of the moral situation here.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Tuesday, 19 September 1944]

1 Nov. 1944—WED 

Darling Sweetheart,

There is big news today.  Finally, at long last, I had my interview with the assignment officer.  He referred me to a major in the Economic Section of N.C.C.  The major asked me to write out in detail the experience I had in the OPA and return later.  I did a little bragging on myself and attached Dr. Ratchford’s letter of recommendation, it being the only one pertinent at this point.  The major was satisfied and referred me to a civilian economist who is supervising much of the work in this region.  He interviewed me; pronounced himself satisfied, and began the necessary technical details to get me assigned to his unit.  I’m to start to work tomorrow morning and will be doing something similar to the work I did for the OPA in Raleigh.  Commissions just aren’t available n non-combat outfits, so I might as well despair of that hope.  And neither the Economist nor the Major gave any indication that I might be promoted.  So I’m forgetting about that for the time being also.  They’ll be watching me for the next few weeks to see what I can do, so I shall work pretty hard on whatever tasks they give me.  What I want is freedom, responsibility and authority even if I have to get busted to a private to do it.  This is the chance I’ve waited 18 months for & I don’t propose to lose out if I can help it.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Wednesday, 1 November 1944]

The group with which I am working is the Central Planning Division for the Rehabilitation of the Italian economy.  We have at our fingertips all the data & information collected by the Italians’ & allied officials.  Our specific job is to set up with the Italian gov’t., a schedule for the rehabilitation of industrial plants in liberated Italy and to plan the imports from America, which will be essential to that rehabilitation.  It is well known that nearly all factories & plants have been heavily damaged by the war, either by Allied bombing, artillery or German demolitions.  Transportation facilities are lacking & electric power production, to which Italian industry is geared is low.

We have a very responsible job.  We could wash our hands of the whole affair, as did Pilate, and say that is up to the Italians & let it go at that.  However, it is to our own interest as well as to the Italian, to reactivate her industries.

The work is especially interesting & educational to me because I am at the center of the whole process, where all the information is gathered & all the policy decided.  In that respect, it is the best job in all of Italy, for me.  I have absolutely no say n policy, of course.  My job is to execute tasks for the big civilian economists & the Major. I have made up two summary reports already & am working on a third.

I have been keeping my eyes open for material for a thesis, but so far haven’t found anything.  After more has been accomplished, it will doubtless be possible.

The Major & I have a secretary, who is paid 5 times as much as I am paid & who gets the same salary the Major does.  She’s a civilian girl brought from America.  Why they don’t use WACS & ATS girls for this work I don’t know because these civilian girls live & work & play just as they did in Washington.  They get to work later, leave early & spend maybe a half hour a day planning what officers’ dances they will go to, etc.  They have absolutely no understanding of war & the sacrifices of the soldiers, particularly on the front line.  They are pad entirely too much & have the status & accommodations of officers.  In fact, they live in a hotel with officers.  Not only I, but other American soldiers who have watched them, feel that if they are typical of the girls back home, they (the soldiers) aren’t so anxious to return.  I have heard several soldiers say they prefer an Italian date anytime, because:

(1)  American girls expect too much.  Too much money & transportation (which officers can get, but enlisted men can’t ).

(2)  American girls don’t understand what the soldier has been through & so is not a good companion.  At the same age as the soldier, she is sillier & talks of trivial things.  The soldier ages a good deal, especially on the front line & he can’t take all this pettiness & childishness.

(3)  Italian girls have seen the war for years & they know just what it is.  They understand the soldier’s mentality—his desires & his funny little ways.  And they don’t expect too much.  They are used to expecting very little so that for anything they get they are very grateful.

I hope you understand what I’m driving at.  I’m saying the problem of adjustment for returning soldiers will be difficult & that a lot of soldiers are apt to wish they had stayed overseas.  People in America have had too much prosperity.  They have not suffered or sacrificed as the soldier has.  Like most officers, they are making more money than they ever made before.

You know I’m not speaking of you don’t you Darling?  For I know you have suffered just as much as any soldier.  Not so much in a physical way, but in a worse way.  Our separation has brought heart tears to you as well as to me; spiritual anguish which is the deepest of all suffering.  It is not a suffering of disappointment, discouragement or unrequited love.  It is the suffering of two people who have been welded into one & then separated.  I am luckier than any other soldier, for I know I return to a loved one who understands me perfectly:  who knows what war means & who will be a perfect companion.  Way back in your family line some one must have suffered from war, for you seem to know instinctively what war is & what our boys are going thru.  I am so proud of you, sweetheart.  You are more wonderful than anything on earth.  I love you.

Your, Jimmie

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Tuesday, 28 November 1944]

29 Nov. 1944   WED

My Darling,

Just to show you how uncertain things are in the Army I have a new job today, whereas I just explained our work to you yesterday.  I shall still be assigned to the Supply & Resources Division of the Economic Section.  My bosses will still be Major Tooby & the Civilian economist.  But from now on until the job plays  out your Jimmie will be the Allied Controller of the Italian Census Bureau.  It offers no immediate advancement.  If I do the job well & if it lasts very long, I may get some kind of promotion.  That, however, is beside the point & I don’t expect it.  I cannot assume the title of controller of the Census because I am not an officer.  I’m taking the place of Coast Guard 1 Lt. who has held it since the census began 4 months ago.  He’s going back to Washington.  I spoke to him today.  He is Lt. Earl Hicks & was the teaching fellow at Chapel Hill the year before me.  He’s very bright & a little older than I am.  He has done his job very well.  My job will last from one to two months.  Possibly longer.

The last Italian census was 1930.  In order to have reliable statistics on which to base plans, the Economic Section and the Italian gov’t. required accurate statistics.  Some 3,000 individuals work for the Bureau & most of the census is completed.  My duty will be  to make available to Allied authorities the result of the census.  I shall have a large big office all to myself.  The office at one time was occupied by a big Fascist.  It has a private elevator.  A private bathroom with hot steaming water, a private room for taking a nap, etc., large chandelier, a conference table, a wonderful hand carved desk & every other luxury.  I am to take over tomorrow or next day unless the orders are changed.  I’m grateful of the assignment.  Although I know very little about statistics, it will give me something I can take charge of & be responsible for.  It gives me an empire so to speak.  Of course, there is a rich, wise, old Italian who is the Italian Director.  But he is subject to Allied recommendations.  This is really a break, isn’t it?  Now you’ll have something to brag about to the ladies who come in your shop.  And little Jimmie is going to put this little experience down as a qualification when he starts looking for a job in post-war years.  The work may give me a lot of responsibility & headaches, but I’ll love it.

If & when the job is finished I’ll revert back to my present job, of chief assistant to Major Tooby.  He got a new secretary today & she will take over my desk.

I wish you could see how exited & happy I am.  ? you  will feel better if you know I am happier—am getting valuable assistance.  Of course, this doesn’t matter one millionth as much as getting you over here or getting me back to you.  That will always be main Project No. 1.

My love for you is boundless & I want to share everything with you.  You are so wise, loving & understanding.  You are my dearest sweetheart & always will be.  Here’s a big hug & kiss from Daddy.

P.S.  Sweet, in our library is a

large gray book called Applied General Statistics Lovingly

by Crofton & Cowden.  Would you send it Jimmie

just as quickly as possible?

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Wednesday, 29 November 1944]

This position of mine is a new experience and although I never want one exactly like it again, it gives me something of an insight into human character.  For one thing, I am the only American – the only Ally – who works here.  I occupy the President’s office & have every person & facility at my disposal, subject of course to the approval of the Major.  Well, the Italians all know this old & young, they rise when I enter a room, all the ushers & secretaries, etc. say “Good morning” & “Good evening” to me as I come in or go out.  At my slightest desire they all jump.  They can’t do it fast enough or good enough.  To an American, especially a Westerner, & to one who was poor & raised on a farm of a large family, all this is strange.  I can’t put on my coat or hang up my hat.  I can’t sharpen my pencils or open my door.  I can’t call a cab, my usher must do it.  And if I try to do these things myself the Italians don’t like it, because they are used to caring for “Il Presidente” in such a fashion.  Their job depends on it.  If I did these things myself, as I want to, they wouldn’t have any job.  They’re too old to try something else.  They’ve worked here 20 years & expect to work till they die.  I find it very difficult to be dignified enough.  My age, as well as my personality, rebels against it.  It is a very unfree job, for I must watch my position.  I can’t joke with an assistant or a clerk.  I can’t let them call me by my first name (they call me Dottore Arrington).  I can’t kid around or walk up or down stairs too fast.  It’s a sort of a game.  I love my job because of the service I’m performing the Allied Commission, but I don’t relish my position, if you get the distinction.  And there’s always the further problem that I represent the victorious nations & they represent the defeated enemy.  This is something entirely new in my life.  If I had been an officer I would have been accustomed to it, I guess.  I know I’ll never want a position like that in life.  I wouldn’t last more than 2 months, then I’d cut loose & do some fool thing like slide down the banister or stand on my head, just to express my distaste of such dignity.  In school teaching you are allowed to be “eccentric” and “different.”

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Monday, 4 December 1944]

29 Thursday March 1945

Dearest Darling,

Your honey is sticking pretty faithfully to his promise not to work nites (nights).  At least, all this week.  Tonite (Tonight) I went to see a movie.  There was a westerner—which being the first movie of its kind I’d seen for a year—was o.k.  And the dialect made me a little homesick.  But the real interesting part of the program was a colored film of the story of Steel production.  And I declare it was one of the most interesting things of its kind I ever saw.  My work here, involving as it does much contact with industry and industrial men, has gotten me all excited about the industrial side of life.  In fact, I’m as excited about industry now as I once was about politics—agriculture-philosophy-religion-and history.  Perhaps it is just part of the rounding out process in my life’s education.  I have learned a great deal about certain industries and wish to learn more about others.  I am enclosing a clipping about a book Copper—the Red Metal.  I wish you would buy this book and send it to me.  Then I’ll read it and send it back for our library.  I also asked Mom to buy me a book about the sugar beet industry.

At present I am collecting some Italian statistical books for our library.  Being head man here, the Institute is making a gift to me of some #50.00 worth of books.  Some we’ll keep for our library.  Others I’ll save to give to our university whenever we settle down.  They’re all in Italian.  Right now I’m turning over an idea in my mind of doing for the Rocky Mountain Region what Dr. Odum of Chapel Hill did for the South—make a study of every aspect of that one region, of course.  I would have to have a lot of help and work up to it gradually.  And I would have to be at Logan or Provo or some pretty good-sized school & with considerable facilities.  Boise would not be large enough.  But even Logan wouldn’t defeat our dream would it?  For all we know we might prefer it.  After all, you’d be close to Salt Lake where you could do your shopping & we could take in the advantages of a big city now and then.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Thursday, 29 March 1945]