The Future of Free Enterprise


By WALTER B. FRENCH, Deputy Manager of the American Bankers Association, New York City

Delivered before the Jersey City Kiwanis Club, Jersey City, N. J., November 5, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 79-81.

ALL of our time, effort, and thinking these days must have one purpose: a successful conclusion, in the shortest possible time, to the war in which we are now engaged. Ever increasing sacrifices will be necessary on the part of every man, woman, and child in this country in order to accomplish that end. No group, regardless of how well it might be organized, can hold itself apart and take advantage of this critical period to advance selfish ends or to make selfish gains. When I say no one can do that, mean no one can do that and say he is an American and lover of his country. During times like these many sac-

rifices are necessary for the common good and we all must be ready to make them.

Since Pearl Harbor there has been an awakening on the part of most of our people. The American public, both individuals and institutions, are supporting the administration with the obvious intention of making the necessary sacrifices and fulfilling essential obligations. They realize that this is necessary if the American way of life is to be protected and preserved. But what is this American way of life? We speak of it constantly, but few of us could define it even to our own satisfaction. Is it the freedoms that we

hear mentioned so frequently葉he freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and of the press? Yes, I believe they constitute an important part of the American way of life. But the foundation of our way of life is the freedom of enterprise, a freedom we hear less and less about these days and yet without this freedom the others we mention cannot long endure.

During periods of national emergency we are obligated to forget these benefits, and we should be willing to adapt ourselves to our government's needs and offer our services in any way in which they can be most useful. We can do no less and live peacefully with our consciences, considering the millions of young men who are in the armed services and the thousands who have already given their lives. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the government may say to John Smith, "Give up your present work and do thus and so, for it is important to our effort," or to Jim Jones, "Give up your present post and do this work; it is necessary," or to the young housewife, "We need you to run this machine and thereby release a man for the armed services."

The main functions of government during an emergency period are regulation, taxation, and control葉he very antithesis of the prerequisites to free enterprise. However distasteful that may be to many of us, such steps appear to be necessary at the moment. The democratic way of doing things is slow and cumbersome in wartime, especially when you are facing an enemy who makes up his mind in a minute, who asks no one whether he should or should not do a thing but issues his command and is instantly obeyed.

If we look back at the progress the Axis powers have made thus far in the war, I believe we will find that many of their gains must be attributed to the element of surprise. In our own experience, we need only to think of Pearl Harbor to realize what a potent force surprise alone can be.

But I would like to submit that in any but a war economy an autocracy is wasteful, unfair, and a deterrent to progress. Under a system of free enterprise, every one is rewarded according to his efforts. For the right to establish that principle, we fought the War of the Revolution. But as a democracy develops, certain people, because of ability and enterprising spirit, forge ahead in business and industry. As industry develops, greater and greater is the distribution of its benefits様arger payrolls, more opportunities for advancement. But during such a development there are other people who find it extremely difficult to get anywhere under the rules of free enterprise. They have nothing, so they want the rules changed, much the same as the youngster in the sandlot baseball game who is always arguing with the umpire. He is having difficulty getting anywhere under the rules, but he loses sight of the important fact that seventeen other lads in the game have submitted themselves to the same rules and appear to be well satisfied with the decisions.

But why defend free enterprise if some other form of economy will do a better, more equitable job? Well, for my part, because I know of no other. I believe there should be a distinction between people. I do not believe the lazy, good-for-nothing should receive the same reward as the hard-plugging, loyal worker. The road of share-and-share-alike leads to autocracy, the very form of government we despise and detest in other nations today.

What are the advantages of a system of free enterprise? Under such a system, every man is free to choose his means of livelihood. He receives his reward according to his ability and capacity.

Has such a system justified its continuance? Since this country was founded on the democratic ideals of such a system, it has become the most advanced nation on earth. True, the system has shown some defects but, in accordance with

the democratic process, these have been corrected through public opinion.

Under the system of free enterprise, the United States has made rapid social gains. No country in the world ever attained the high standard of living possible in this country. In no other country in the world does the average citizen enjoy the comforts and conveniences he does here. These benefits are peculiar to our nation葉o our way of life. The democratic system of free enterprise has created these benefits for all, not just a select few庸or labor and capital alike.

Labor today in the United States is organized as never before in the history of this country. It represents a force that can either make or break the defense effort. The rank and file of labor represent the highest type of citizenship様oyal, patriotic, ready and willing to make any sacrifice. Working men are giving their effort and their sons to the fighting forces of the nation. They are doing their part and it is to be hoped that labor union leadership will be just as patriotic in this time of sacrifice for all. If there is one word that should be non-existent at this time, it is "strike," particularly as it applies to any defense industry.

Management under the system of free enterprise must be capable, for if it is not, either it is changed or it passes into oblivion. Such a system does not long tolerate any incompetent because he has influence with any one in authority. You either run a successful business or you don't. Running a successful business means paying wages according to standard, producing goods that will sell in a competitive market, and paying taxes to the government for the right to do business, and last, but I hope not least, satisfying stockholders.

What a terrible thing it would be to permit any development in our economy that would stifle private initiative! The great advances we have made in this country are due to individuals: Ford, Schwab, Firestone, Edison, to mention a few. These men could not possibly have made the business records they did if the public had not approved. For it was the public who bought their products葉he ultimate test of successful management.

Henry Ford started with nothing but an idea, an idea that was to give work to thousands in this country and benefit millions all over the world. Ford could never have accomplished in any other country what he did here. Our system of enterprise gave him the incentive and encouragement he needed to bring his idea to fruition.

You have dozens of similar cases right here in this club 洋en who started out in life with nothing, yes, nothing minus in worldly goods, and who today are heads of their own businesses, successful enterprises possible of development only under the protection of a truly democratic government.

There is only one alternative to a free economy and that is some form of planned economy. A planned economy would deprive us of everything that sets us apart as a fortunate people. The great risk we face in this country today is that most of the benefits we enjoy葉he American way of life, if you please預re taken for granted. Too few of us have taken the trouble to find out what it is that is different in our system from other economies or forms of government. If we must lose free economy in this country, let us lose it fighting with our eyes open and let us not lose it through indifference.

Thomas Jefferson said, "I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education." Gentlemen, that is the task of every thinking Amer-

ican citizen today葉o educate our citizenship to the advantage of our way of life. It is important that you shoulder this responsibility now along with all those others you are obliged to carry. Never lose sight of the fact that there are many in all walks of life who would rob us of our American institutions if they could. There are individuals in high places today whose thinking is entirely along the lines of some form of planned economy, many of whom have had no experience whatever in competitive enterprise.

One of our military leaders in recent weeks discouraged any discourse on political and economic freedom by reminding his audiences that we have a war to win. I remind him that his army is not made up of professional soldiers who may fight just for the sake of fighting, but of young men of high ideals who are fighting for a cause. That cause is political and economic freedom, without which we can never be the same people用rogressive, resourceful, humane.

Our way of life demands that every one have the right

to develop his own productive abilities, the right to sell those abilities to the highest bidder, and keep some of the benefits for himself. Should anything happen to that inalienable right, now a part of the heritage of every American citizen, with it will go all that we know as democracy. That is what we are fighting for, and may our soldiers and sailors keep it ever in their minds!

It is true that we are living in a war economy and of necessity many of the advantages of the system of free enterprise have been relegated to the background, a course that is necessary if we would be successful in this war. We might fight fire with fire. But, once this emergency is over, we must see to it that the system of free enterprise returns to play its proper part in our economy, for if it does not, all our sacrifice, heartache, and suffering will have been in vain. Without the freedom of enterprise, we will reap as our reward the very same type of autocratic monster we now seek to destroy.

After Peace: Competition Or Cooperation?


By COLBY DORR DAM, Psychologist, Editor, Economist

Delivered before the National Womans' Party, Washington, D. C, October 18, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 81

THE kind of international society we have today is an exact expression of the kind of people we have in the world. Make no mistake about this! Wherever in the universe of suns and planets, we find a humanity that is slightly intellectual but primarily emotional and physical in its consciousness, you may be sure we shall see just what we have here and now on earth. There will be savage and inhuman wars; control of wealth and political power by the few with poverty and ignorance among the many; a weak, dogmatic religion and a vigorous laboratory science, closely allied with big capital; a violent and selfish nationalism fighting to get and hold wealth-bearing land; a political economy dedicated to satisfactions of the physical man; and a utilitarian educational system that is pragmatic, objective, agnostic, strong in the natural sciences and weak in the human sciences. These things are all natural conditions of the natural man; they are part of the instinctive, sensory, physical, possessive aspects of people everywhere. The struggle between these animal aspects and the human spirit is the inner cause of the current war; and this war is the big crisis in the world wide struggle between our animal past and our boundless, spiritual future. This is a battle to the death between the brute slave man and the politically free man. The animal and the spirit are fighting blindly for control of the future civilization. If the spirit, which is freedom, wins, there will be an opportunity to establish a better age in human affairs.

We are not ready for this opportunity, and we dare not miss it. How shall we get ready? There is only one way by discovering and releasing part of our frozen spiritual assets; and by applying these faculties to the human problems of the technical age.

What are these inner assets? What are the problems? And how shall we bring the two together? You have heard that those who follow the inner life frequently discover in themselves unexpected power, wisdom, joy, peace and truth. This is indeed a fact. The wise men of the earth have achieved these attributes. As a result, their lives have lighted up the dark pages of history with beacon lights of hope, faith and courage. Today there are few wise men. They are

greatly needed; without their vision, their power to arouse the human spirit and eliminate conflict we cannot safely build the post-war system. Without their inspiration we cannot live or think beyond the limits of the natural man whose fatal leadership has brought disaster to the earth.

Now these wise men have nothing within them that we cannot have, if we give the same attention to our consciousness that we give to our bodies and our senses. We should deal deliberately with our minds and hearts and find out what we are doing with our thoughts and feelings, both to ourselves and to others. We should train ourselves to think in terms of society and our specific relations with it. We should be as accurate in subjective analysis as we are in scientific analysis. We can then begin to really understand our lives and find out what parts of them are physical, instinctive and sensory; what parts are individual, selfish, and personal, and what parts are ideal, aspiring and reaching out for universal truth.

The Integrated Personality

In this analysis, the first thing to work for is balance. We have four things to look after預 physical body, a set of emotions, an intellect and the Spirit. There is a close, vital relation between them; they are all important and what happens to one instantly affects the others. If our body is sick, our emotions are apt to go haywire. If our emotions are violent and unstable, we cannot think straight. If our mind is narrow or sluggish or foggy, the Spirit is paralyzed. Today most of us either think too selfishly or love too blindly. Our hearts and minds are out of balance or working in opposite directions. To restore balance we must think lovingly and love intelligently.

After balance is restored between the body, the emotions and the intellect, we can begin to look for the Spirit within. As we look, important changes begin to occur. We become harmonious people. Our character begins to manifest itself in action; we can think logically; our emotions become definite, clear and strong. We know where we stand at all times, in all situations; and life no longer takes us by surprise. People are attracted by the harmony we radiate; by