Reconversion of America for Peace
"WHAT'S YOUR ANSWER?"
By J. FRANK RUSHTON, JR., President, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce
Delivered before the Southern Commercial Secretaries Association, Birmingham, Ala., March 20, 1944
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 469-475.
ALMOST by accident the problem of reconverting America for peace became violently thrust into my consciousness a short time ago. It was a problem about which I had heard much discussion and which I supposed was one of those things to which I would turn my attention in due time. But there came to me an opportunity to take a vacation. I decided to take that vacation in Mexico. I have been there many times and I know a great number of the Mexican people. I thought it would be a place to rest for two weeks so that I might come home refreshed and better able to meet the problems of our war time economy. However, while I was in Mexico I saw and heard manythings which upset my thinking.
Let me tell you what I saw and let me offer you this apology. I was on my vacation. I did not go to discuss economics. I avoided to its fullest possible extent the discussion of politics. I sought to see none of the things that I shall mention to you and, therefore, I give you neither statistics nor any supplemental facts other than the statement that I met them. I saw them. I am powerless to interpret them. That must be your job.
I had landed in Merida, Yucatan and on the first evening I was there, I went out to the home of a Mexican friend, who runs a henequen mill. He owns a plantation on which be grows henequen and the product of that henequen is rope. We are buying that henequen because we need the rope. This is what I was told at the table, despite my endeavor to turn the conversation away: "What is it that you Americans have on your mind in this war? Are you aware of the fact that the heads of your various bureaus and agencies are coming into Mexico and through the Mexican Officials you are buying henequen from Mexico. You are paying 9c a pound for it when it's worth 3c a pound. Are you aware of the fact that none of that extra 6c is going to the people of Mexico but it's going into the hands of the politicos" (understand that politicos is Spanish for politicians). I tried to drop that conversation but across the table from me was the Consul for a neutral country. He leaned across to me and said, "Are you aware of the fact that we, too, need this product and that we are buying what you leave at 3c a pound?" The man who represents one of our allies in that particular area spoke to me with considerable bitterness. Said he, "You are leaving us no henequen. We need it badly and we, too, are paying 2c to 3c a pound for what is left." My Mexican friend went back to his theme and said, "This money isn't coming to the Mexican peon. Watch them as you move about. You will see they do not benefit. You are spending 9c a pound for what you reasonably could buy at 3c a pound and you are creating an inflation down here. When will you Americans learn that you hire a servant but you do not pay a friend? When are you going to understand that when you want a man's friendship, you first command his respect and if you don't have it, you get neither?"
I left Merida. I went up to Mexico City. I went out to meet my Mexican friends and the first thing I met was complaint that on the American Embassy in Mexico City there are eight hundred different attaches who are buying all through Mexico at the same rate as this henequen is being bought. They have taken the best rooms in all of the best hotels. They are squandering their money and our money in such a fashion that the prices in Mexico City are rising more rapidly than they are here at home. The Mexican people ask, "Why do you permit it? This is war. You have a manpower shortage. Yet in our City there are eight hundred of your men doing what could reasonably be done by fifty men and paying a price that's shutting us out and wrecking our economy. What's to become of us when you take these eight hundred men home and they quit spending as they are spending? Don't you Americans know that you hire a servant but you don't pay a friend? What do you mean by 'good neighbor' policy when we, the small middle-class are being squeezed out of existence. Frankly, we think you are doing it deliberately. Your money is going to our cabinet officials. It's going to our government. We are feeling the effects and not getting the money." I don't know that there are eight hundred men on the Embassy Staff.
I left Mexico City. I went back up towards Guadalajara to visit the places where I knew people. Here is what I ran into. I could not escape it. The story is current from the Rio Grande down to Guatemala that Mexico has decided to make itself a land of opportunity and that it is offering to Americans or to anyone else who will come there, five years of tax exemption if they bring their own capital and start a new business. Time and time again I met an American whose story was that the land of opportunity up here had gone; he had children; he had small capital; he could come down there and set up a leather tanning factory; he could come down and open a hotel; he could come down and set up a cotton spinning plant; he could come down and set up silver manufacture and in the five years that will come he had an opportunity to build a future business for his children. Don't ask me how many such Americans there I are. The Mexicans tell you they are there by the thousands. I don't know that that is a fact or isn't a fact. I know j that I met a considerable number and I am telling you the story that they told me: I know that some of your biggest American firms are opening new branches in Mexico, they are manufacturing their products in Mexico which up until this time, we have sold the Mexicans. They are creating a new industrial economy in Mexico.
And then the last thing. I was invited out to San Angeles one evening to dinner. There were some twenty- I odd young Americans at the table with me. There faced ! me down the length of the table gentlemen to whom I had ] been introduced and whose physical appearance was such j that there was no reason they should not have been in our armies. Here was their story. These were not draft dodgers. These were youngsters at the table with me who had enlisted in the American Armies. They had gone abroad. They had bought your fight and my fight. They had been wounded. They had gone into the hospitals and when the hospitals sent them out into the civilian economy they had met the American economy as it stands today. They took what money they had and the pittance that the Government gives them and they went to Mexico. Their reason for doing it, so they said down the table to me was this: "Look, we can live here cheaper; we can live where things are not rationed, where we are not strangled by a multiplicity of laws. We have done our share of the fighting; we are here to rest until such time as we see fit to come home, if we do." I faced them with mixed emotions and the point came when I rose and left the dinner table to go home, for I felt as you must have felt. Surely, no one can level criticism at men who have fought for us and who have been wounded. Equally surely, this is the hour of American agony and there wasn't one amongst them who couldn't have answered a 'phone, who couldn't have typed a letter or seen that an order was executed or directed a product on its path. There wasn't one that we do not need and need desperately. And I do not know how to criticize them for it but I do know that I was badly shaken and lest I should say something would regret, I left.
No, I don't know that we are paying nine cents per pound for henequen and thereby wasting millions of dollars, nor do I know that there are eight hundred people on the staff of the embassy in Mexico City. I only know the Mexicans say there are and say also that they resent the inflation which has come as a consequence. Neither do know how many Americans have gone into business in I Mexico, or if there are many of our youngsters who have left us for Mexico. But what little I did see and what I did hear, and what the Mexicans said they thought about it upset my thinking considerably. It raised many questions, which we Americans need to consider as we plan to reconvert America for peace. Do those questions disturb you and do they not make you view tomorrow almost as anxiously as you view today?
Time to Lay Plans
The time has come to consider reconversion. Donald Nelson says the time hasn't come to do anything about itbut the time has come to plan about it. He says that we have passed the shortage of steel; there is enough copper; there is enough zinc and that daily we are passing other shortages. Therefore, we must lay our plans. Nelson says that what's in the way is this: While the materials are here, the manpower isn't here. Still, we should be planning because the time will surely come in the near future when there will be enough manpower. When that time does come, then we Americans must start to reconvert our industry. We must be ready so there isn't too great a lag between the end of the war and the beginning of production for peace time. For that reason he has asked that every one of you think it over seriously and begin to plan.
When you turn to reconvert your industry, you face the easiest part of your problem, for there is a tremendous demand in this United States of America for consumer goods of all kind and it's going to spur reconversion from the very moment there's enough manpower. There are millions of automobiles that people want; there are millions of tires that they need; there are millions of refrigerators they would like to buy; there are thousands of homes to be built. There is a vast tide of things needed and production will be well supported by our backlog of War Bonds. When the time comes that this can be done, the people can buy so you are assured of a glowing, a quick start to retool our industry and reconvert it to peaceful products.
There's a second factor. All over the world there are ruined areas, cities have been blasted into rubble, towns and houses have been smashed to pulp. When the war shall be over and the full tide of our reconversion begins to take its effect, the world is going to look to us for a great many products with which to rebuild those ruined areas. There's another factor. Several millions of our children in the various jungles of the world and the various civilizations of the world have consciously or unconsciously been our salesmen. People who never heard of a jeep have seen one and wanted it; people who didn't know what a moving picture was have seen one projected. They have seen our razors, our radios, our cooking equipment. Thus, our whole Army, Navy and Marines in a certain sense have been our salesmen and to the other factors I have mentioned there is coming a world-wide demand for American products. If we handle ourselves wisely we can establish a trade that will go all over the globe in a fashion it never went before. So our problem of reconverting industry shall consist only in waiting for the time when the manpower is sufficient for retooling and then beginning to produce on a large scale to meet all three of these demands. That's easy.
But when we converted our industry to war, never forget that we also converted our Government to war. We haven't a Government now that is using peace-time methods and what shall it gain us if in turning industry back to peace we do not reconvert our Government to peaceful methods. It's going to be easy to reconvert industry but is it going to be easy to reconvert our Government?
Let's look at some of the problems that are in front of us and as we look at them, discuss them, and think about them—for they are far more serious than any industrial problem. All of the Mood-tide of our industry and our sales can be checked at the source if our Government isn't reconverted too. Moreover, let's define one or two terms and get them out of the way so they are no longer misunderstood. First, what do we mean by a reactionary. Well, a reactionary is a person who wants to go back to old forms of Government and old methods of business. Which is the older, the new American system born 150 years ago or government by cartel, by bureau and by directive? Government by bureau and directive was old when Greece was young. Lord Acton says that liberty began when the American constitution was written. Lord Acton had watched government by bureau and government by cartel, government of strangling dictatorships and directives keep Europe in half starvation. Who is the reactionary? Those of us who want to go forward into a newer, brighter day, bringing the good from the good old days under the American system of government or those who want to go into the dust of dead centuries and select governmental forms that have failed.
Second, there is the American way of life. It's much on the tongue of many people and what does it mean? I wish I could give you an exact definition. I cannot, but I can tell you this. The American way of life means to all of us the way of life that provides an opportunity so that any man, if he is willing to work—if he is willing to think—if he is willing to invent—if he is willing to save and he persists, if he so desires, he may be the top of whatever profession he, himself, shall choose, whether that be a great industrialist—a statesman—the head of a labor union —a great doctor—a great lawyer or a holder of many farms to produce much foods. Opportunity shall be open, and no dead hand of government shall interfere and say, "You shall not do it." That, to most of us is what we mean by the American way of life. Woodrow Wilson said after the last world war that the history of all freedom has been the history of limiting government. The founders of this nation sought to limit government. They set up three branches of the government. They said they balanced each other and what they meant by it was that each branch shall be so jealous of its authority that it should protect the people. These branches should fight each other to hold government in bounds and by that process the American people should be free, and government should be limited. As a consequence, this should be the land of opportunity.
Free Private Enterprise
Then there's another phase that's much bandied about and that's free private enterprise. What do you mean by it? Exactly what the words say. Free from government restraint except for criminal activity. Private in the sense that it's in the hands of the individual citizen—a man with whom you may compete if you see fit and not in the hands of the government. Enterprise implies that it is venturesome, that it is producing, that it is enterprising as it looks forward to tomorrow; enterprising in that it is building newer and better methods. Make no mistake about this. If it isn't free, it isn't going to be private and it isn't going to be enterprising. If it isn't private, then you know it isn't free, and you certainly can be sure that it isn't going to be enterprising. But never forget the last of the three words. If somewhere amongst us there isn't the will to be enterprising and to face tomorrow with a venturesomeness, then enterprise isn't going to be free and it certainly isn't going to stay private.
Lastly, what about the profit motive? There's something wrong perhaps today when you refer to a man as working for a profit and yet, where else has there been a motive that will make man work ? There is no effective motive anywhere except that a man shall know that if he is willing to work hard and save money, that he may earn; he may own; and he may make a profit. If you tell him he must work for the good of his fellow-men, he grins at you and agrees with you, but does he do it? You know the answer. Russia is held up before you today as a great and marvelous nation. They didn't have the profit motive. The war came and
Russia was being licked until the American nation with the profit motive was able in two years' time to give them the guns, the tanks and the planes which turned the tide and let them thrust the Germans back. The American profit motive in two years did what Russia could not do in ten. If you wish to investigate, study news dispatches, for now Russia has said that any man in Russia who wishes to work and wishes to save may bank his earnings. A Russian now may make a profit. So let's get the profit motive defined and out of our way. There isn't anything else that will stir us all to the benefit of us all as will the profit motive.
Will Bureaus Go?
Now, look at the reconversion of your government. The average man I meet thinks five things. I have discussed it with them wherever I have been. First, he thinks that as soon as this war is over, the bureaus will go. It's in his mind that the bureaus have been created by the war and when the war is over the necessity for them ceases. They will then disappear like the snow in the summer sun. Do you think that? Well, if you do, you don't think the same as the people who are in the bureaus. Perhaps you mean by the bureaus not the several hundred that existed when this war began but the some 200 that have been created because they are supposedly necessary to the production of war materials. Perhaps you think of the War Manpower Commission, you think of the War Labor Board, the Bureau of Economic Warfare. You name them. There are more than 200. Perhaps you think because they bear "war" in their title, when the war is over they will quit. Listen to Donald Nelson as he says, "You must have the War Production Board for years after the war shall be over so that in the reconversion of your industry you may have the direction of a bureau to keep you from making mistakes." Listen to Chester Bowles when he says that when the war is over the rationing of foods and other essential articles must continue for two or three years so that the American economy may be brought back to normalcy. Listen to Paul McNutt as he reaches out over your nation and sets up bureaus in each county to return the servicemen to civilian economy. He seeks to establish himself forever in the American economy by taking over the issue of servicemen. Don't you believe he can do it? Well, when the last war was over, the Veterans' Bureau was established to take care of the veterans immediately after the last war and it is still with us. So if you think they will disappear, you reckon without the heads of these bureaus.
Moreover, there was on the first of this month 3,300,000 employees in those bureaus, exclusive of the military. Now, what makes you think that when the time comes that it's hard to get along; when a man's got to assume responsibility; when he must work for his job; that 3,300,000 voters will lay down a job which pays them highly and which takes no responsibility; no act of will? There's something deadening about working in a government bureau where you obey a directive exactly. There's something which saps your vitality. It is similar to staying in a hospital. If you think these 3,300,000 voters are going willfully and wittingly to lay down a salary they probably cannot command in the civilian economy, you are mistaken. Therefore, if you think the bureaus will go as you reconvert government, think about it carefully and remember this—the bureaus will disappear only when, as and if the American people demand it and demand it with such vigor that the politicians must give in and destroy them. Don't think for a moment that you can start compromising on that issue either. For if you do, as you lop one bureau off, another will appear. Don't forget that the habit of bureaus didn't begin in the war. There were several hundred when the war began and they won't disappear when the war is over.
Will Taxes Decrease?
Second, the men I meet think that when the war is over, taxes will decrease. Do you think that? Let's look at it. When this present administration took over, we had a debt of 21 billions. When the war began we had raised that debt through our habit of spending lavishly to 50 billions. On January first of this year, the debt of our country in money spent, stood at 186 billions and that isn't our total debt. There were 90 billions at that time appropriated and unspent. I know of no man anywhere who thinks that we can come out of this war without a debt of at least 300 billions of dollars. Now then, the interest on that at 2% is 6 billions of dollars. So if you fund it into bonds; pass it on to the kids of tomorrow and say, "You pay it off. We are putting it in bonds. We will pay the interest on it," we will begin reconversion with a governmental expense of 6 billions of dollars for 130 million people to pay. You do the arithmetic and see if you think taxes can decrease. And on top of that, you have got to add the expense of 3,300,000 bureaucrats who will still be there when the Army is demobilized. These bureaucrats cost us eight billions per year. How then can your taxes decrease unless you are perfectly willing to shear into the expense of government and as you limit it, to cut it down. If you do that, there is some small chance of decreasing taxes. But when we do, never forget this; That in the decreasing of taxes, we've passed our own debt on to tomorrow. We have in effect said to our children, "Go offer your lives for us in this war and then come home and pay for it." And if we are courageous people, we won't do that. Our taxes won't decrease and we won't let politicians fool us. We'll cut government as far as we can cut it and we will start in to pay off our debt with some immediacy.
Lower Cost of Living
The next thing the average man I meet thinks is that when the bureaus have gone and taxes decrease, the cost of the necessities of life is coming down. How shall it? Taxes aren't going to decrease if we are a courageous people. The single other factor we've got which is as great is our labor costs. Have you any idea that labor, after the hard fight it has put up to get wages where they are, will willfully and wittingly sit down after the war and let us cut labor costs? If you have, you are not following the same thinking labor is. They've no intention of giving up their high wage level. They wouldn't be human if they did have that intention. We can count on the fact that our labor costs will be high. If our labor costs are high and our taxes don't decrease, how then shall we cut the cost of living? It will take just as large a proportion out of the pay envelope as it did before. So let's not fool ourselves. There is some relief to be found in mass production but there isn't much.
And the next thing the man on the street thinks that I meet is that we must preserve the unity of this American nation and we must cooperate with government. You hear that bandied at you from every side. Let's look at it. What unity have we got? Before we start to preserve it, let's consider f we have it. There started a process some time ago of setting people aside and using them as a whipping boy, because by abusing them and promising benefits to other people, we could be divided and as we were divided, candidates could be elected or re-elected, as the case might be. As a result we are now divided into pressure groups. We have specialized groups that turn all the heat on Washington to get a special favor for themselves at the expense of the total economy. Trace it up.
We began by whipping industry. Industrialists were economic royalists; they were princes of privilege; they were malefactors of great wealth. Somehow by tearing them down we were going to build everybody else up. Somehow we were going to take money and benefits away from one group and give them to another group. We were going to give special benefits to this group and that group by taking the money away from the American people. The next thing we knew we were going to do great things for the farmer. We were going to tell him what to plant and how much to plant. We were going to give him parity. Surely he ought to have parity. I know of no man who does not wish the farmer to have parity. So, we created another slogan and further divided the American people in order that politicians might be elected or re-elected. By giving the farmer subsidies we created another pressure group.
Then we passed from that to labor. We jumped on certain forms of labor and we praised other forms of labor. We promised labor special benefits. Thereby we created another pressure group.
Next we picked on the Supreme Court. They were nine old men who stood in the way of paying special benefits to pressure groups so we had to change them. Next it was the doctors. Doctors' fees are too high we say, so we are going to make those fees cheaper. We are going to socialize medicines for the benefit of the people and by tearing the doctors down we are going to give certain people a special benefit. Of course, when medicine has been socialized you can't have the old family doctor who has stood to you as half physician and half father confessor. Nor can you select the doctor you think will be best. You must take the next doctor in line and probably he will be the doctor who is the most popular with the politicians.
Then a short time ago we decided we must give Federal moneys to the schools. Of course, it is to be Federal money with no strings attached. Did you ever see Federal money with no strings attached? There has never been such a thing and there never will be. But by putting up a bill to give these funds to teachers we have created another pressure group.
Divide and Rule
By using slogans for election and re-election we have so divided the American people that every man you meet is a farmer; or he is a little businessman; or he is a teacher; or he is an industrialist; or he is labor; or he is the representative of some pressure group who is going to wring a special benefit for himself out of our total economy. Is that unity? Has not this process of setting up whipping boys and creating pressure groups progressed so far that in the last sixty days Congress itself has been the whipping boys? Congress—the people we elected to pass our laws—Congress unwise as it may be but still our bulwark against dictatorship—is the last whipping boy and is being called hard names as a campaign issue. A new division being thrust on us. For what purpose? Can't you guess it? Don't you know that "divide and rule" is as old a political trick as there is?
Do you call this unity? Is this the unity you want to preserve? As we reconvert our government should we not first create unity by beginning with ourselves and remembering that we are above all things, Americans? That comes first and we have no right to be in any pressure group, I don't care what it is. We must not divide our government so that the few can benefit from what is taken away from the many. Get out of pressure groups if you want to start a unity. Don't ask for any special favor. If we want something which we think is wise, the democratic American way is to do it by voting and not to do it by lobbying or other forms of pressure. Let me make it clear, I mean ALL pressure groups, not just those that represent the farmer; not just those that represent labor but any group which seeks a special benefit at the hands of Congress or the Executive. Pressure groups ought to be destroyed. And when they have been; when we remember that our first duty is to America, then we are beginning to create unity which is worth preserving.
Next, what do we mean by cooperate with government? Aren't you tired of hearing it? Do we mean perhaps that when government issues a directive which is against every one of our principles, we shall be regimented and shall obey that directive to the last dot? Is that Americanism? Or do we mean that we shall get together in the electorate and determine those principles which the American people think are wise. Then, we shall agree with those principles and fight for them. What do we mean by cooperate? That word cooperate has come to mean to obey. Are we going to continue to let it mean obey? Well, we will if we sit quietly by and stay out of politics; if we seek to evade expressing our principles; or if we fail to fight for what we think is right. When every one of us is actively supporting our principles, then somewhere there is going to show a solidarity of what the American people think. When we know that, we are in position for the first time to cooperate instead of obey.
And lastly, the men I meet feel—they do not think, but they feel, that we should guarantee certain social and economic rights to every man. Do you think that? Are you aware of the fact that the people must support government and the government can't support the people? Are you aware of the fact that nation after nation has gone into the dust of failure because it translated the responsibilities of a citizen to his government into a debt of the government to the citizen. We have a duty to our government. That duty, at present, is to produce all of the war materials we can that we can fight successfully. It is our duty to pay our taxes. We have other duties to our government. But government doesn't owe us a thing. Government is our own creature which we created and government can guarantee us only this: The right to work if we wish to work; the right to earn; the right to own; and the right to go to the top, if we so desire. But the very moment government takes our duties to it and turns them around and says, "The government owes these debts to you," we are reactionary. We have gone back to pick up the things that have destroyed other people. We are guilty of European thinking. No government has been able to do that and succeed. No government ever will until human nature changes. So if you feel that the government ought to guarantee certain things that are social and economic and you think you are going to reconvert your government you'd better think again.
Are You Guilty?
While we are talking about whether or not government can guarantee social and economic rights, it is fair to ask a question. Have we been taking our social and economic
problems to government and asking government to solve them? Have we been shifting our personal and business responsibilities from our own shoulders onto the shoulders of government? If we have been asking for government help, for special government consideration, why do we not expect other people to do so? If we are going to reconvert government had we not better begin at home and assume the full social and economic responsibilities which are our personal obligations? Otherwise there is no chance to prevent government from directing every activity.
The Half Loaf Theory
When we have thought through those principles, what are we going to do about it? Our decision is plain in front of us. War necessities have made us do things that have converted our government into a government, temporarily, that is a government of dictatorship and a government of bureaus. But when the war is over and we reconvert industry, what are we going to do? Let government continue that path into the socialism that we have been fighting; let it drift further in until it becomes dictatorship; let it go until government ceases to ask us what we want done and tells us what we shall do? Or will we remember that the ' history of all liberty is the history of limiting government down to the bottom to where if it had any less power it wouldn't be government? Now, we've got to choose and we can't choose by simply avoiding the issue because we are going to take the responsibility and we are going to take it shortly. We'll either get up actively and say what our principles are or we'll sit silent. Then other people will force their principles on us and it will make no difference what principles we have decided on. We are going to take the consequence and to a large degree, we are going to take the blame.
When we have made up our decision which form of government we want, what else are we going to do? Continue to compromise our principles in favor of our purse? We have sat and felt that "a half loaf is better than none" and when it came to a fight and our principles were being stepped on, we have thought it best to forget our principles and preserve part of our capital. And that's the half loaf theory that brought Europe to Munich; it brought Europe from Munich into a world-wide war. And if we continue it here, it's going to bring us first, to bankruptcy and second, to slavery. And well be guilty ourselves if we haven't the courage to think our principles through and then get up and fight for them.
Having thought that out, are we going to stay strictly in our own business? I am being told by people all over the State of Alabama, "I take no part in politics." Well, let me ask you a question. I am not referring to whether or not you shall run for an office and try to keep it after you get it. I am asking you whether you know that you can't have a sound business or a sound anything else unless we have a sound government. I am not defining what I mean by sound government. That's your job. But our first duty is to our government because it is the creature of all the people and it represents America. Thus we cannot stay out of politics. It is up to us to support the man we think is right. It is up to us to support him actively and support him with all the honesty and vigor we've got. If we stay home and let other people do it, then we are going to continue what government we have to our own wreckage. What is there left for you to be afraid of? Haven't ail the things that frightened you, and made you compromise, come to pass? So if we're figuring on staying strictly in our own business, it makes no difference what our decision is. We must make up our minds what form of government we want. When we have made up our minds we must support our decision. We must destroy pressure groups. We must go into politics, And when it comes to principle, we must determine to pay millions for defense and not one cent for tribute.
Freedom's Last Stand
Let's look at it again. It has been plainly handed to us recently. The statement has been made by government officials that industry must provide full employment; that if industry doesn't provide full employment government will; that this is the last stand of free private enterprise. That's been said to us. What does it mean? Well, you know and I know that industry will employ exactly the number of men it is profitable for industry to employ and not one bit more. The purpose of industry is to provide a service at a profit or a product at a profit and when it isn't profitable to employ men, industry won't. Therefore, if they are sincere in saying that industry must provide full employment—and all of us want to provide it—then this is true. Government must make it reasonably possible for industry to make a profit or industry won't. Second, there is no sense in threatening industry unless those who make the threats want the credit if industry shall succeed and want to seize the job of government hiring if industry does not succeed.
What do these officials mean when they say government will provide full employment? Well, we've got a large proportion of our people on government now. There are more government employees in the State of Alabama than there are city, county and state employees. Multiply it a little bit more and we've got socialism. When the majority of the people in any country work for the government under government directive, they have socialism. And what on earth are we fighting? Yes, we are fighting to keep from being conquered. But it's also a clash of ideologies. What we're fighting is socialism which went into dictatorship. Will you fight socialism over there and sit silent while government officials begin to proclaim it over here? What do they mean this is free private enterprise's last stand? They mean this. This is freedom's last stand. For when industry ceases to be in private hands and goes into the hands of government; when we become government employees; we can call it what we will but we've been enslaved. When government officials say that if industry doesn't provide full employment, government will; when they say this is the last stand of free enterprise; they are throwing down a challenge to us as to how we shall reconvert our government, if indeed we shall reconvert it.
If we do not reconvert our government, of what use will it be to reconvert our industries? If government isn't reconverted we have sold out our country to cheap labor over the rest of the world. It may have been that you and I could dodge the responsibility of making such decisions in the past. It may have been that we could sit by and let other men make our decisions and deny that we had any part in those decisions. But that isn't true now. Shortly, we shall come face to face with the decisions which we must make and we cannot dodge the issue either. Here is why.
When Johnny Comes Home
In the not too distant future Johnny is coming marching home. Our own boys are coming back to us. Two years ago we drafted Johnny and sent him out to fight for us How gloriously he has fought we all know. Johnny has definite opinions as to what he is fighting for. I have seen a lot of Johnnies in the hospitals and as they came throughthe Chamber of Commerce and I know that Johnny has definite opinions. Yes, he is righting for Father and Mother. Yes, he is righting to keep his home free from invasion. But Johnny also thinks he is fighting for the American way of life. Johnny doesn't want a government dole when he comes home. Johnny doesn't want some bureaucrat telling him where he can work and for how much. Johnny doesn't want to spend his life standing in lines. Johnny wants a job and a permanent one with a future to it. Johnny wants to live in a land of opportunity where he can work and earn and save. Johnny wants a land where he can have all you have had and be all you have been.
When Johnny comes home he is going to look you in the eyes and ask you what you have been doing while he was out fighting for freedom and for the American way of life. Then you are faced with the issue and how shall you answer Johnny? Shall you say to Johnny, "My boy, while you were away I was too busy to look after the country you were fighting for. While you were fighting for freedom, I was careless and lost it. But Johnny, you can ask the bureaus, They will tell you where you can work and what your wages will be. And Johnny, don't forget you've got to help pay off a debt I let us accumulate." Will we say that to our own children? Or will we convert our government to the point that we can look them in the eye and welcome them home to the American way of life?
Will you reconvert government? Where are the leaders to lead you in that reconversion? We have our answer. We ought to be the leaders. Aren't we all tired of big leaders who squabble for power with us as the spoils? Aren't we tired of watching supposedly big men fight for political powers and wreck us while they do it? Surely we don't need any more big leaders. What we need is fifty thousand or a hundred thousand little leaders. We need men in each community who have thought reconversion through and who are willing to fight for their decisions. You ought to be one of those little leaders who know what the American way of life is and who is willing to give his time to reconverting our government to that way of life. When Johnny comes home he isn't looking to a big leader for an answer, he is looking to us, his parents and his people.
America was a land of opportunity. For whatever reason it isn't now. Will it ever be again? You've got to make up your mind now. What's your answer?
Don't tell me.