WE MUST HAVE PATIENCE AND FORTITUDE
By F. H. LA GUARDIA, Mayor of New York City
Broadcast over WNYC to the People of New York from his office at City Hall, August 13, 1944
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 750-755.
I WANT to talk today about our postwar problems. As of today, we are not prepared for peace. It took a long time to prepare for war. It will take a long time to prepare for peace. To date, precious time has been wasted. There should not be another minute lost. Congress will have to speed up. We all want the war to end at the earliest] possible moment. We are all hopeful that it will end in Europe before long. Yet we are not ready to meet the situation at home when it does. Nothing short of a miracle will save us from a great deal of trouble and anxiety. It is just taking too long to get the postwar program settled and ] the necessary legislation enacted in order to prepare and be ready. Failure to be ready will be extremely costly, perhaps ten times more than a constructive program, besides the trouble, the hardship, the suffering and the anguish that will be caused. Relief is always costly and does not settle anything.
Those of us who were close to the unemployment situation know what relief costs, and we know that it is not a final solution. We must provide work and opportunity and security. Relief, idleness and sympathy will not do.
Let us look at the situation. Over ten million men and women are now in the armed forces; about thirty million men and women are now employed in war industries, including transportation, agriculture and mining; seventy-five to eighty percent of our factories, shops, plants and yards are now engaged solely in war production. The problem then is to get the demobilized veterans into jobs, to keep war industry workers in employment and to transform war plants back to peacetime production. In addition we must keep agriculture going to its maximum production. We know that all ten million men in the armed forces will not be discharged at one time. The first impact, though, will be felt for several months after demobilization starts. We must be prepared to give these men jobs, to keep them in jobs and to absorb veterans in gainful employment after they are discharged.
Many mistakes have been made here at home. Mistakes are bound to happen in a great emergency and in such a gigantic task. Many of the mistakes were pardonable because of inexperience. Some of the mistakes were unpardonable because of past experience.
To meet this gigantic problem, everyone must do his share. The responsibility may be divided into four parts:
1. The Government.
2. Industry and Commerce.
4. Wage Earners.
What should each do:
1. The House of Representatives should proceed without delay to enact into legislation the remaining part of the Baruch recommendations not yet written into law or contained in the George Bill. Congress should perfect the contract termination law and proceed at once to provide for aid and assistance in converting industry back to peacetime production.
It should, insofar as is possible and practical, define its taxing policy for 1945-1946. This, of. course, is always subject to the act of a subsequent Congress. However, a declaration of a tax policy, while not binding on a subsequent Congress, would be reassuring to industry and commerce and at the same time would have great force and would be considered with great respect by the new Congress.
Congress should approve a federal, state, municipal public works program, with immediate appropriations made available to Federal, State and local governments for the preparation of engineering and architectural plans and specifications, and definite commitments as to the amounts of grants to state and local sub-divisions of government. Congress should pass the federal highway bill with authorization for increased appropriation. It does not provide enough as it now stands.
A careful study of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 should be made to obtain timely, perfecting and clarifying amendments if they should be deemed necessary. Nothing should be left in doubt. The rehabilitation and educational features of this law are excellent. Here the mistakes and experience of the last world war have been helpful.
The reemployment provisions, of course, are necessary, but providing an employment agency does not create jobs by and of itself. In this instance, as in every other, it will be seen that a comprehensive plan is absolutely necessary. The Veterans Reemployment Agency will be of great value if industry and commerce are able to give jobs. It will be useless if there are no jobs.
Provision should be made in the guaranty of veterans loans to permit the pooling of individual loans among veterans who desire to join in an approved business venture.
The government should now provide a guaranty of loan to industry and business for the purpose of deferred maintenance, expansion, replacement of equipment and machinery of any company or individual who has been or was solvently engaged in industry or business prior to or during the war.
Provisions for displaced war workers must also be made. We must be realistic. We cannot talk about the consumption of consumers goods and purchasing power and remain silent as to what is to happen to millions of war workers who will necessarily lose their jobs. The provisions in the Kilgore Bill were not all excessive or exaggerated. A large number of workers unemployed, with barely a subsistence allowance, will only prolong the period of resumption of peacetime production.
As the George Bill goes from the Senate to the House, careful consideration should be given by the members to many excellent provisions in the Kilgore Bill. Out of it allshould come a well balanced, easily administered, effective plan for part of our postwar problems. Both bills provide too much machinery for administration. Any attempt to mix, to mingle, or to merge any administrative duty, direct or indirect, with the legislative branch of the government would only create a governmental melange, not in keeping with our philosophy of government, and will cause trouble. It has never and will never work. When congressional committees want information they have the power to get it. For a congressional committee to sit with an advisory committee in the administration of any law- is not only impracticable but dangerous. The administration of all provisions of law, I repeat again, should be streamlined and decision and responsibility definitely fixed in as few individuals as is possible. Both bills contain the weakness of divided authority, too many committees, very unwieldy and cumbersome administrative machinery.
A great deal of our trouble has been caused by disparity of labor conditions in various states. This condition is now sought to be perpetuated in the George Bill. Every postwar problem is a national problem. The displacement of war workers and the rehabilitation of industry is not a State problem but a national problem. Unemployment allowance should be uniform. True, there might be a slight differential in the cost of living in the various sections of the country. In the main though it necessarily must be uniform in amount, in administration and in terms and conditions. To separate this into 48 administrations is not only costly but unscientific It may create patronage and pap but it will not be as efficient as a national system. Imagine ten million workers shopping around for the states having the highest unemployment insurance. Imagine an administration allowing travel expense without a complete coordinated national plan of knowing just how, where and why money is spent for travel and expense of families of war workers. Some may have a right to return home, others may want to go where work is available but all of this has to be coordinated and brought under the supervision and control of one administration. Provision for 48 state administrations of unemployment insurance may be good politics. It is bad, very bad socially and economically.
The delay in obtaining necessary postwar legislation, the duplication and legislative confusion created by two bills on the same subject in the Senate, each reported out by Committee, the need of one comprehensive plan, all indicate the necessity of an over-all study and consideration of these problems by Congress. To those not familiar with parliamentary procedure, the difficulty may not be apparent. Under the present rules, with different committees considering the various parts of the entire program, delay, duplication, omission are all bound to happen. The House of Representatives has seen this in the appointment of a Special Post War Study Committee. The weakness of this Committee, though, is that it has not been given the necessary power to report definite legislation. It can only make recommendations. That means delay, more hearings, more study, more investigations, more reports. It would be very helpful if each House of Congress appointed its own special legislative committee on postwar problems. This committee should consist of the Chairman, ranking Majority and Minority members of the Ways and Means, Appropriations, Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Agriculture, Labor and, if necessary, Army and Navy Committees, with full power to prepare and report legislation to their respective bodies. This will bring under one consideration, at one time, the entire picture and will enable proper approach and treatment of the various problems, the necessary tying in of all postwar activities, coordination and cooperation, and eliminate a great deal of bureaucracy and personnel.
The government in Washington must be streamlined. The greater number of war agencies should be terminated. All duplication and overlapping must be eliminated. Each department of government should absorb the functions of the various agencies which pertain to its particular field. This subject alone could be discussed at length. I may do so at another time.
It is absolutely necessary that insofar as is prudently possible, without impairing the postwar program, which will be very costly, the government should estimate its postwar expenses for a period of five years. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, disappointment or irritation, a definite policy on lend-lease must be proclaimed now before it is too late. We may have to give some aid to the unhappy invaded countries. It should be restricted to such countries. Lend-lease, though restricted, after the termination of hostilities, must be limited to goods and commodities. All of the countries will need building materials, machinery, clothes, food and medical supplies. This all can be supplied under the provisions of lend-lease with easy terms of payment or exchange later in commodities. There should be no cash loans except for a critical or emergency situation. I am talking about government money. Reestablished governments or new governments, of course, would be permitted to float bond issues on such terms as they are able to negotiate.
A system of universal military training will have to be established for all boys between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, giving choice to the individual as to when he will serve within that age period, or compulsory at twentyone. Suitable arrangements, of course, can and must be made for college students without interruption of their college or post-graduate courses. This is very easy to accomplish. Alongside of this, states must strengthen their compulsory educational laws in order to take from the competitive labor market children of tender years and immature youth.
On the other end of the pool, a more uniform system of old-age pensions should be established throughout the country. No old-age pensions should be allowed Where the beneficiary continues employment in any competitive field. Unemployment insurance should be more uniform throughout the country. This, of course, is only palliative and not a cure. Let us give more thought as to how to keep people at work rather than how to keep them out of work. Labor wants work with decent pay not idleness with relief. We must establish security of employment to such an extent that the cost of unemployment insurance would be greatly reduced and the benefits to seasonal workers greatly increased.
We have learned that a great deal of destitution, which is very costly to local and state governments, comes from the disability of the head of the family to work owing to illness. At this date little need be said as to the need of a health insurance system throughout the country. It is past the study stage. Sufficient information, knowledge and even experience have been obtained to put such a plan into operation.
We have heard too much of surpluses. Paradoxically, it has caused hunger in our country. It is almost unbelievable that when we had the greatest unemployment, we had the greatest food surplus. The same is true as between nations. Some countries had surpluses and did not know what to do with them, other countries were in want. That is one of the main causes of war. It must be removed. Just talking about it will not solve the problem. We must act and we must be prepared to go into operation to care for surplus the moment the war ends. Oh, for the first few months there will be such need of food and material in Europe, Africa, and Asia that the laissez-faire, the happy-go-lucky, the unthinking, the day-by-day businessman, the pawnbroker, will say—"Oh, everything is fine, why worry?"
I tell you that there is cause to worry. No people within a country from now on will go hungry and no country in the world will go hungry. Our Government should provide at once a surplus commodity export corporation operating on a hemispheric basis in conceit with like organizations of Central and South America. A like government corporation should be established for the European-African territory, and the third for the Pacific-Asiatic area. Heretofore we have talked about surpluses but we do not really know if we ever had a real surplus of anything. A surplus is that amount of any given commodity over and above the needs of all the people. What we have called surplus was the amount over and above the purchasing power of the people. Do I make myself clear? As an illustration:—We had great trouble in the past with surpluses of dairy products, milk, butter and cheese. I say we have never had a real surplus of dairy products in this country. If every infant and child in the United States had sufficient and the proper quantity of milk every day, if every family had sufficient and the proper quantity of butter every day, ignoring cheese entirely, we would not have had a surplus of dairy products. Therefore, to balance the world's surpluses, it is necessary that a definite formula be established.
Roughly stated it means that the daily needs of the people of the entire country should be taken as the normal required amount of any commodity. The amount over that requirement is then declared a surplus. That surplus then is taken with the surplus of the same commodity of other countries in the hemisphere, and placed in the pool. It is disposed of by sale or exchange to countries needing that particular commodity. The European or Asiatic countries do the same, and provide for sale or exchanges between the three world surplus commodity corporations. When the commodity arrives in the country requiring it, it is. then distributed through the regular channels of trade in accordance with the economy of that particular country. It is not difficult. We have the food; we have the raw materials; we have the demand; and soon it will be learned that a perfect balance can be maintained. Of course, this would eliminate speculation. This would eliminate monopoly. This would prevent excess profits and excess suffering. By the establishment of the hemispheric surplus pool, a market is assured to the farmers of each nation for all that they produce. No more economy of want, no more curtailing production, but encouraging production. There is no originality in this idea. It has been talked about and studied for years. Selfish interests have always been able to oppose it in this and other countries.
Now let us consider another kind of surplus, temporary but quite important—that is surplus war supplies. Let us get right to the point. Congress is giving a great deal of attention to legislation regulating sale of surplus war supplies. The amount of surplus supplies will not only be gigantic, but fantastic. Now right here, let us remember that the Army and the Navy should be praised and not criticized for having such enormous amounts of every kind of supplies on hand. It is their job to fight and win the war. They dare not take any risk as to when and how the war will end. It is their responsibility to have ammunition and weapons and food and materials and supplies of every kind everywhere—when and where it may be needed—in sufficient quantities. Therefore, the American people should know that the enormous supplies which we will find after the war is the result of a fine and thorough job on the part of the Army and the Navy.
More thought and study has been given to the disposal of war surplus supplies now than had been given before the end of the last war. A super agency of government has been established with a splendid personnel, which is intended to cover all the procurement agencies of the government that will have surplus supplies on hand. Every detail has been worked out as to cataloging, pricing, advertising, financing, and as I stated, Congress is now considering definite legislation.
I make this prediction—that if the selling agency is perfect, that if the laws enacted by Congress provide for the efficient and speedy disposition by sale of all war surplus material, that within ninety days after the same will go into operation, the Congress will hastily repeal its own legislation and stop the sale of 99 percent of the surplus supplies. Sounds Strange, doesn't it? Well, it is a fact. Just look. Are we not bending every effort to get industry back to peacetime production? Do we not want to employ every man that it is absolutely possible? Well then, if we want to do that, do you not see how the sale of the surplus supplies through the regular channels of trade will retard peacetime production?
Yes, there are some articles on the list which will be helpful in restoring peacetime production; tools and dies, and machinery, may be needed at once, but no machine should be sold unless it is needed to restore peacetime production and not if another machine could be made in the time that is required. Some raw material, such as copper and lumber, and other materials, should be sold, but only so much as will get peacetime production going up to the time that same material can be produced. If all the reserve aluminum on hand were sold as surplus supplies now, it would close down the production of aluminum for a long time. That in turn will cause the unemployment of thousands of workers. Take for instance, planes and motors for airplanes. Why there will be an enormous quantity on hand. If all of the surplus were to be sold here and abroad, I predict that there would not be an airplane motor constructed in our country in five years. That would cause unemployment to hundreds of thousands of workers. Airplanes that may be used for commercial purposes, should be loaned to commercial airlines as replacements for present worn equipment on condition that an order for a new plane with new motors is placed for each plane and motor loaned which will be returned on delivery of the new plane and new motor. The same is true in trucks and cars, in paint, and bolts and nuts, and in the thousands and tens of thousands of different articles and goods that the government will have on hand.
The Government, of course, should use materials and goods for its own establishments. It should give to state and municipal government replacements of materials and supplies that it may need, but only on condition that the state or municipality authorize the appropriation for the succeeding year of its normal requirements for such material and supplies. There is a great need now of blankets and sheets and medical supplies in our hospitals. But how about the mills, how about raw wool and cotton? If all the shoes and clothes that the Government will have on hand are to be sold through regular channels of trade, it sure will retard resumption of leather and textile production in this and other countries.
Someone will ask, "Well, isn't it wasteful not to sell all of those surplus supplies?"
The answer is "Yes," of course it is wasteful. War is wasteful and destructive and this enormous amount of surplus supply is just part of the waste and destruction of war. So let us not fool ourselves. I have told committees of Congress just what I am telling you now. We must be realistic and practical. It is less costly to pay wages to produce new goods than pay insurance for unemployment.
2. Industry and Commerce
Everybody is talking about free enterprise today. When I say everybody, it seems from the member of a Local of organized labor, to the President of the United States. It seems to be the will of the majority of the American people. That being so, then we must face this big problem honestly, frankly and realistically. Free enterprise means business for profit. If that is the will of the people, then business and industry must be given a chance to operate. Given good wages and wholesome working conditions, an opportunity of profit commensurate with the capital and risk involved must be made possible. Talking about profits, taxes tantamount to almost complete requisition and free enterprise at one and, the same time, simply does not mix. Hog-tying legislation likewise interferes with free enterprise and the profit system and the creation of permanent employment under this system. Now mark you, I am not giving my views. I am stating what must be realistically faced if those who talk about free enterprise want to bring it about successfully. In the modern, scientific, industrial age in which we are living, we must not be frightened at big undertakings. Many of the consumers' goods and desirable goods cannot be produced today unless they are produced in maximum quantities and the manufacturer is permitted to avail himself of every possible economy in the purchase and processing of raw materials, the manufacture and distribution of the ultimate, goods.
Industry and business, as I said before, has a responsibility. Granted that it should know exactly how it stands in legislation and insofar as is possible taxation, it must reconcile itself to fair and reasonable profits, to new conditions pertaining to labor, to close cooperation with its employees and the recognition that the employees come to have a vested interest in something that they have contributed in building and creating. The time may not be distant that a certain percentage of profits beyond a fair and reasonable return may be shared by management and labor. Security of employment is necessary and in the long run economical to the employer himself. Therefore, production should be systematized in such way as to avoid seasonal work. There is no reason why the automobile or the petticoat manufacturer should produce only in a certain season of the year. Given its model or style, production may well be spread during the twelve months of the year.
Business and industry should now be ready with its post war plans for deferred maintenance, expansion, replacements and enlargement or new enterprise. There is plenty of money available and as I stated, the government may provide some sort of partial loan guaranty. There is nothing more discouraging, and I am sorry to say I have heard many important, yes, even big bankers and businessmen, tell me, "Oh, wait, let's win the war first." This type of mind will not fit in the post war period. This is the pawnbrokers' and pushcart peddlers' mentality. All the shenanigans and questionable promotional schemes which flourished in the early days of railroads and right down into the late twenties, must be forgotten. If business or industry sells bonds, the investors must know that they are absolutely good with sufficient property back of them. In exchange, the investor takes a lower rate of interest. Watered stock and overcapitalization must likewise be avoided, the stockholder must be assured that he is in a business and not a lottery. More labor and owner representation will have to be given on the directory boards. Existing restraint of trade and anti-trust lews must be brought up to date to meet the technology of mass production, changed labor conditions and magnitude of modern industry. The Department of Commerce must be vested with the authority and power to protect honest business and industry. An opportunity should be given to business and industry to apply for approval of contracts, agreements or any undertaking before same is put into operation, in order to ascertain if it conflicts with any existing restraining or trust law. When industry and business want to do the right thing, they should not be placed in jeopardy or tempted to violate the law when it is not their intention to do so. I want to state again now, that I am simply stating what should be done if a system of free enterprise is to be the policy of our nation.
With the exception of perhaps the last few years in this country, agriculture has never had a chance in this or any other country of the world. For centuries, countries of the older world thrived on the exploitation of the peasants. In this country, industry profited, in the past, by the misery of the farmers. That day should be gone and gone forever. Unless we are very careful, we may again depress agriculture to the depths of bankruptcy and poverty as was done after the last world war in this country. I wonder how many realize that the job of a shirt-maker in a shop in New York, or a mechanic in a plant in Detroit may depend upon the wheat crop in the Argentine or in Australia, to say nothing of the economic condition of the farmers of this country?
Our agriculture economy must be based on a policy of plenty. Everything that the soil can produce must be encouraged. Parity, not parity-plus, but real parity prices must be assured to the farmer, and what is more, that he will find a market for his crops. This is only possible with the world surplus pool I talked about a moment ago. The American farmer is entitled to fair and just compensation for his labor, the labor of his family, and for fair, just and reasonable returns for his investment. That is all he wants, that is all he has ever asked. If he gets that, he is prosperous. If the American farmer is prosperous, he buys clothes and furniture and household goods, machinery and all sorts of things that we make in the city. That means employment in the cities—wages—and in turn a good market for his products. Now when you put this circle in reverse, it is just too bad. The farmer is broke and he cannot buy, and because he cannot buy, the fellow in the city does not have a job and he cannot buy sufficient food. It is just as easy to keep the gear forward as to let it slip into reverse.
If the nations of the world are really desirous of maintaining peace, nothing is more important than that all of the people of the world should have enough to eat. God Almighty has placed sufficient food on earth for all the people. It has not all been equally distributed; but the balance is there. While one country may produce one crop in surplus quantities, it does not have another commodity it needs and which another country produces. To think of people starving with a surplus of food of any kind is not only stupid, but sinful.
We now come to the wage earners. Labor has an opportunity to make a great contribution to our postwar adjustment. It has the greatest opportunity in the entire history of industry. Labor has gained a position, its rights have been recognized. This brings with it responsibility. Granted a policy of a decent living wage, security and provision against unemployment, it necessarily follows that labor must produce sufficient to create such wages and working conditions. Wages must necessarily be maintained by production. Slowdown, limited production, idle stand-bys, are costly to labor and to industry.
Speaking very frankly, in the period of adjustment following the war, with the huge number of discharged war workers and demobilized soldiers, full and complete cooperation will be necessary. Unless ample, equitable distribution of work is provided between the discharged war workers and the demobilized veterans, there is great danger of irritation, friction and serious trouble between these two groups. There are some thirty million men and women, as I said before, now employed in war industries. Let us assume that there will be about ten million who will not be required in war industry and ten million who eventually will be demobilized from the armed forces. Here we have a pool of twenty million men and women for whom work must be provided. As I see it, in all governmental postwar public improvement, the employment should be distributed on a fifty-fifty basis between demobilized veterans and unemployed war workers. The same ratio of one-half veterans and one-half war workers should be followed as closely as conditions will permit in all postwar new industry, and in continuing industry and business insofar as is possible. Women who have homes and are not self-supporting, as well as overtime and dual employment will all have to give way in order to provide a greater spread of employment. Organized labor should be the one to present this plan and to see it enforced. That in and of itself is sufficient to avoid the danger of friction between veterans and organized labor.
In order to maintain the purchasing power necessary to provide permanent employment, it is essential that production increase. I repeat, the whole situation depends upon the wage earner producing. Everything should be based on that. The greater the production, the greater the stability of employment. The greater the production, the better the wages.
I have felt for a long time that a fixed, fair and just annual pay with steady work is better than a fictitious hourly rate with little or no work. I have always felt that full-time jobs for all is better than jobs for some with overtime. I am quite aware that the old-line labor leader disagrees with that. However, this is something that all trades should consider. An annual pay with steady work will bring more return to the individual and his family than an hourly rate, uncertain, indefinite and seasonal. I have heard from both employers and union leaders that it is impossible to fix an annual pay for seasonal work. That is not so. It is quite possible to provide greater income to the worker on an annual basis and yet reduce the cost of production to the employer. This is something which should receive the prompt attention of labor.
Labor should see to it that the standards of wages are more uniform throughout the country. The Wage and Hour Law has helped considerably. That is not enough. Working conditions, rules imposed by labor, if good in one section of the country should be good in all sections of the country. Often it is not wages, but working conditions that drive an industry out of one section into another section of the country. That is not good for industry and in the long run it is not good for labor. Fair employers who want to do the right thing for labor, who pay good wages, who recognize the rights of labor, should be protected by labor itself against unfair competition caused by inferior working conditions in other parts of the country.
Jurisdictional strikes must be avoided. Surely labor can provide the genius and the good will to prevent a stoppage of work often involving hundreds of innocent workers on a job because of some jurisdictional dispute. The employer or the contractor is helpless. Government mediation or conciliation agencies are helpless.
A great deal of thought should be given to this. The art of construction, improvement in machinery, plastics and new materials will come into use rapidly after the war. These are often the causes of jurisdictional disputes as to who will do the job. This is labor's problem. The employer, the contractor, is not concerned. The cost is the same to him. Therefore, it is labor's responsibility to provide the machinery for the adjustments of such disputes within its own rank without the interruption, the delay, or losses to the contractor or employer and to labor itself. I know that people unfamiliar with labor conditions will believe that a suggestion of this kind is wholly unnecessary, but those who have experience know how costly a jurisdictional strike is to both labor and employer. Assurance of the elimination of this evil should be complete.
Labor organizations have sought honorably to maintain the terms and conditions of agreements. Recently a bad practise has been creeping in of mass "sickness" and stoppage of work, which of course is nothing but an unlawful strike. In such instances, the labor organization concerned should assume the responsibility of filling the vacant ranks in order to continue service and production in accordance with the terms of the agreement that labor itself has signed and pledged to maintain.
Labor can be most helpful in maintaining standards of living as well as in the social well being of the people of this country. It can also serve very helpfully in establishing relations with labor of other countries in aiding to establish proper standards of living, and the end of systems of starvation wages detrimental to countries where decent standards exist. Labor must also police its own ranks and drive from within its midst crooked leaders and anyone who would racketeer or who would betray the cause of labor. And, finally, labor must not only open its doors but its books to the returning veterans without excessive initiation or admission dues. In fact, it would be smart to give membership to men and women in labor organizations on the presentation of an honorable discharge. We must not forget thousands of boys have been instructed and trained in skilled trades. The Seabees of the Navy, the Engineer Corps of the Army, the Signal Corps, the Air Corps, yes and tanks and all the mechanized branches of the armed forces, have instructed and trained thousands and thousands in skilled trades.
These boys must have a chance to work. These boys are entitled to a job. I strongly advise labor to take these veterans into their organizations and to adopt the system of sharing the work—one worker and one veteran for every two new jobs available.
In conclusion I say that I know a great deal of all this sounds visionary, but I can assure you it is not only necessary but practical. To slip up on any one of the various factors necessary for a postwar prosperous, peaceful world is courting disaster. I hate to say this, but unless we are sure that the economy of our own country will be well-balanced, that there will be work for all and social security, we are in for very serious trouble. Is it not better to plan ahead and to deliberately prepare for the situation, constructively and in an orderly manner? If we fail, it will be disorderly and troublesome. It will lead to serious conditions, even more serious than we dare to contemplate. And it will be so much less costly to arrange our postwar national system intelligently than to be caught unprepared, to be met with trouble, and costly palliatives and make-shift solutions.
Will the postwar period be costly? Yes, because it is part of the war and it is just impossible to snap back into peace and normal peacetime conditions in one instant. With provisions already made by Congress or now under consideration, the fiscal year following the end of the war will require about 70% of the last war fiscal year. The second year perhaps 50% of the average yearly cost of the war. The third year 25% and from that point tapering off. This, of course, assumes a complete, well coordinated postwar program.
Some will say, "But some of the suggestions will be costly." No, not at all. Social security will not be costly if our economy is based on a huge production and people are employed. There is one complaint that the plan for disposing of surplus food and other natural resources will increase the cost of living. No, not at all. Much cheaper than providing relief for the unemployed, much cheaper than subsidizing reduced production or killing of livestock. Much cheaper when it will bring into the country goods and commodities that we cannot grow or produce.
It will be pointed out that not disposing for cash surplus war materials will entail a great loss. Not at all, when you consider the loss in employment and production awaiting the consumption and use of the surplus war material. Some employers will say that the annual pay will increase the cost of production, and labor leaders will say that it is not practical and that the workers will get less. Both are wrong. It can be mathematically demonstrated that it will increase the pay of the worker, reduce the cost of production.
I feel that we are the most fortunate people in the whole world. Our task is so much easier than the postwar task of Great Britain, France or China. We cannot even compare the case of our postwar task with that of the invaded countries or of Germany and Japan by the time we are. Our country has not and in all likelihood will not suffer any devastation. Would it therefore not be an unpardonable failure and a blemish on our generation if we fumble at this time? The disastrous effect, the failure of a plan to provide for a sound economic postwar society in our country, will bring havoc and ruin to us in this day and make it extremely difficult for the next and the generation after that. The problems that we must consider and solve are not political. Our problems are economic and social. We cannot delay. We must work out, not a democratic economy or a republican economy; it must not be teutonic or slavic or latin—we must evolve a purely American economy to meet our needs, our habits, our customs and our system of. government. It will require generosity in politics, particularly in this year; it will require goodwill on the part of all men. It will require unselfishness to the greatest degree on the part of all the groups: capital, labor, social and political. It will require unselfish, patriotic teamwork. It will require courage, the like of which no statesman in the entire history of our country has been called upon to display. It can be done—it should be done. With God's help, we will do it.