Quit Fooling and Go to Work


By WILLIAM S. KNUDSEN, Director General of the Office of Production Management

Delivered at the forty-sixth annual Congress of American Industry of the National Association of Manufacturers at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York, December 3, 1941

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 137-139.

IT is about a year since I appeared before you the last time and talked to you about the blackout. There has been a little improvement in the blackout since last year, and we can stand a little more whenever we get around to it.

I don't need to talk to you about man-hours and their importance in a program. Every piece that goes into defense

consists of man-hours, from the material to the last operation, and we, of course, depend entirely on the ability of America to furnish not only man-hours but also to furnish the ratio of output per man-hour, which we all know is greater in the United States than any other place.

Production, as I am supposed to talk about, consists of

three things: material, labor and facility. And to start from the beginning, one of our problems today has been the procurement of material. We know that the estimates for direct defense requirements will be greater in 1942 and 1943 than they were in 1941, and by direct defense requirements I mean, of course, the things that are bought by the Army and the Navy and the Maritime Commission.

Greater Lease-Lend Needs

I think we must also suspect increased lease-lend requirements. Indirect defense requirements and civilian requirements such as steel for machine tools and industrial machinery, the material needed for new plants, requirements for making repair of our present plants, and the minimum amount needed to keep the civilian economy going will, I think, increase in the next year. Steel is the outstanding example of this material. The demand for steel will be greater in 1942 due to the step-up in the defense program.

Steps are being taken to increase the production of steel in places where steel is largely required for military uses. These increases will be available sometime within 1942, but in most cases these increases will be absorbed by the direct defense program. Large quantities of steel will also be used in the construction facilities, but I don't think there is going to be any great problem there. Part of the present demand is probably going in excess inventory, but I don't think that these inventories will act as much of a shock absorber under constantly increasing demand.

We are not satisfying civilian demand now. An important point is copper, but for the last few months the defense requirements alone as represented by the highest demand are already running in excess of the supply. We are taking steps currently to increase the copper production, and we have also, through Mr. Nelson's department, taken steps to eliminate copper in civilian uses wherever it is possible. The greatest increase in copper requirements for the Army and Navy, or a very great factor, has been the demand for shell cases, and there may be a possibility of us developing a substitute for shell cases made of steel, which will soften the blow or soften the impact of the demand on the copper production. We also have gone out to get more copper both from domestic and foreign sources. One large concern is now producing 75,000 tons for next year, and we are importing all available copper from South America. Of course, you must remember that we have that to draw on only as our sea lanes are open and sufficient ships are available.

Ships Are Still Scarce

In spite of our large shipbuilding program, ships are still a scarce commodity. Similar situations have developed in aluminum, magnesium and nickel, and are rapidly developing in other metals, such as tungsten and molybdenum. Supply lines are constantly watched, as well as the stock piles, so that we can check the demand in case our supply lines are cut.

In view of our increase in national income, the civilian demands will be larger in 1942 than in 1941. But as I said, a while ago, I cannot believe that even our defense estimates are too high, and projected increases in production will be realized and if there is no interference in imports, that the shortage of critical material will be over before the emergency is over.

There may be some relief in some materials, but we will not have enough for the demand. No matter what kind of activity the company is engaged in, it must deal with the materials problem.

Shortage and priorities didn't mean so much a year ago. Every company should analyze its business to determine the

production that is not essential, and look around and see if there isn't something else they can make to help out when shortages occur.

The Industry Committees down in Washington have endeavored to deal with the problem, but we will have to have your cooperation in dealing with the critical materials.

On labor, we have had a difficult period, also, with production generally on the up-grade. We know of the strike troubles that culminated in the coal strikes last month. In most cases wages and working conditions were not the issue, but the usual demands are for closed shops, union shops, preferential shops, whatever you call them. I can't for the life of me understand how in a period of national emergency such foolishness like this can go on.

We are in a very good position regarding wages and working conditions. We have all kinds of work to do, and then we have to stop and argue about the jurisdictional disputes and organizational disputes, and God knows what.

We hear a lot of talk about supporting the government. Sometimes it doesn't look that way to me. Last week it was said that all us fellows down there were a bunch of crooks, or words to that effect, by labor leaders, that we were influencing contracts, and so forth, and at the same time a couple of union leaders went to jail for, well, for felony.

Unrest in Plants

What is not brought out in all this discussion is the unrest that exist in plants not on strike, and the only proof I can give you is that the leader of the convention a couple of weeks ago told the boys in a big manufacturing concern that they ought to quit fooling and go to work.

I don't want to be severe with labor; I have dealt with them all my life; I have been one of them, but I think any fair-minded observer will say that the facts will prove what I have said. I have up to now supported the contention that laws were not needed to get top production in the United States, and I am quite frank to confess that with our house on fire, we can't have a strike in the Fire Department and refer the dispute to conciliation. If strikes can't be stopped during a period of emergency in any other way than by law, it should stop them. A friend said to me, "What if the law doesn't stop the strike?" My answer is, "At least put the strike in its proper position both from the standpoint of emergency and the public."

I know that the overwhelming desire on the part of labor is to work. We know we can't win without the support of labor. We ought to do everything we can to make them understand what is going on, what the requirements are, how much we can do if we really all get together and attack this job right.

The overall picture today is about as follows on facilities: we have committeed about $4,578,000,000 worth. This includes all of the facilities ordered by the Army, Navy and Maritime Commission. We have delivered to the defense program $850,000,000 worth of machine tools in 1941, and expect to deliver $1,200,000,000 worth in 1942. There seems to be the feeling that the bulk of our national facilities will be fairly well finished in 1942, and that thereafter we will be evening up and balancing our facilities. The final picture isn't quite ready yet, but in 1942 I think the major part will be behind us.

The ratio of $4,600,000,000 to $43,000,000,000 isn't too bad if we get the proper production out of it. The expanse in the contract distribution service will be a welcome adjunct to the production program. The shortage created by priorities has given a good impetus to the contract distribution service program.

The Production Picture

Summing up the production picture from the foregoing, it can be stated perhaps as follows: production is on the way of every item in the defense program. You know I cannot quote these quantities to you, but I will try to give you an idea this way: contracts are placed of a total value of $43,000,000,000. Deliveries as measured by disbursements will amount to $12,700,000,000 to Jan. 1. The calendar year 1942 should show $26,000,000,000 of products shipped. In 1943, we hope to produce $36,000,000,000 of products.

Subcontracts for the month of October, according to the Contract Distribution Division, amounted to $188,000,000. This, of course, is only a small fraction. The majority of subcontracts are placed by the contractor himself.

As for the position of the defense program on planes, tanks, guns and ammunition and ships, the standing as of Jan. 1 will be, on planes 60 per cent of peak; on tanks 30 per cent of peak; guns and ammunition, 50 per cent, and ships, 40 per cent.

Work has gone along somewhat better in the last few months. A new plant for building bombers will be opened in Kansas City early in January and three more plants will be finished late in '42. These four plants are cooperative arrangements which we entered into a year ago with the automotive industry in order to get more heavy bombers. The manufacturing is to be handled by some of the big automobile companies that have body shops, and things like that, so we can use some of the tools, and the assembly will be handled and managed by the airplane companies. With these four plants and our present capacity, we ought to have around a capacity of 800 heavy bombers a month. On tanks, we have made some progress in work now. They will reach 2,800 a month by the end of '42. Guns of smaller size are progressing, and ample facilities have been provided.

Ammunition at first was stymied by the lack of explosive. Satisfactory progress has been made both in powder and TNT. We are assured of a satisfactory supply by Jan. 1.

In shipbuilding great advance has been made through the progress of welding, which incidentally, will be used in tanks, also, during this coming year. A monthly output of 400,000 to 500,000 tons cargo capacity of ships wouldn't seem unreasonable for 1942.

Must Get Realistic

Now, you might ask, what do you think of the whole program? Here is what I think: We have gotten started,

I might even say a good start. We are not in the right swing yet. We are worrying about civilian economy, which has certainly been hurt. We can't, as some people say, be prosperous and arm for defense at the same time. We have got to have more help from industry, from you gentlemen, both in the program at large and in the OPM. We must get realistic and convince ourselves that this industrial machine of ours must hit on all cylinders for a while without too much worry about the amount of fuel consumed.

We have a tremendous task in front of us, and we have not all of us awakened to that thing as yet. I think a great deal of progress has been made in the last six months. The various problems that arose in connection with the program, and which I am frank to admit took much too long a time to work out, have hindered us from getting under full steam perhaps, but I am satisfied that by taking one more real drive at it we can get it over. The saving grace of it is as we get more experience on the different jobs we get more work out of the facilities than we originally planned. For instance, on planes up to 12,000 pounds weight, we have seen how we can produce considerably more.

The greatest gain in production comes from working continuously and from the short-cut which any factory on quantity production is bound to benefit from. We don't know how much munitions work we can put through. The more experience we get the more output we will get.

They tell me that in the German Army the generals are up in front. In the industrial army we need the generals up in front. We need the boys up in front. We need the general right in front leading his men on, and that will to a great extent counteract any attempt to slow down.

We are up against a military and an industrial machine which is clicking altogether too well to suit yours truly, and we will have to catch up with it in 1942. If we don't it is anybody's guess as to how long this show is going to last. This was brought home to me very forcibly a couple of weeks ago. I went up to a college in Pennsylvania and the president of the college got up and read a citation for a boy that was lost at sea. The parents sat right down in front, and I want to tell you it was very impressive.

Whatever we call the fix we are in right now we have got to take one more drive at it to get together and get the thing going right. We may hear many citations read all over our country before we get through, but let's by the everlasting God, see to it that the boys, if they have to go, go with a gun in their hand and not with a broom handle.

Leadership and the Present Crisis


By O. C. CARMICHAEL, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University

Delivered at the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, November 13, 1941, in New York City

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 139-142.

IN a highly complex civilization in which greater and greater specialization in business and the professions is required, the danger is that leaders may become mere specialists, concentrating upon narrow objectives in particular fields of endeavor, leaving the guidance of society to blind chance or to the less intelligent members of it. One thing is certain, if intelligent citizens fail to assume control, those less endowed will take the helm. The most highly specialized and scientific people of Europe provides the best

example of the tragedy of this error, a tragedy which affects not only the citizens of that nation but the world as well. What a different situation we would have today if during the past decade the leadership in Germany had insisted upon moderate and civilized methods of solving their problems.

In the early days of the American Republic when matters of public policy were of direct concern to every citizen, the weight of public opinion was readily brought to bear on political questions. As the population grew, the area of the