MARCH 1, 1938
NEW YORK, Monday—An interesting idea has been brought to my attention by a group of people in New York City. They suggest that manufacturers who are overstocked at the moment, should sell their surplus merchandise at cost and, in turn, the people who buy this merchandise from them should sell it to the public at cost. In this way the purchasing power of people with small salaries would be increased, the manufacturers' shelves would be cleared and the wheels of certain industries would begin to turn again.
In looking over the studies which some economists had made, I was interested to see the regular cycles through which many industries pass. A good period, a saturation period, a bad period, and then a new start. Practically all industries apparently over-produce and then have to stop. But the industries which make things which are used up most quickly have, of course, the shortest period between the saturation point and the new starting point.
Because foodstuffs are consumed so steadily, they seem to keep farming the only large industry which does not go through some kind of a cycle like the above. However, the farmer is affected by other things.
My friends, who are suggesting this new plan, are trying to hurry the cycle in certain industries and thus get back on a production basis. To me, it seems good business as well as a help to the consumer and to the people engaged in production.
The slogan they suggest for this campaign is "People come before profits." A good slogan, and a wise man knows that only when you think of people first, can you every make profits. My congratulations and good wishes to those who are making this effort.
As long as we are thinking commercially today, another interesting point has been brought to my attention. The country as a whole, partly because of radio and partly because of WPA art projects, is becoming "art minded." The added interest in music is showing itself in dollars and cents to the manufacturers of musical instruments. In 1937 the public bought 106,009 pianos as contrasted to 27,000 in 1933. The sale of piano-accordians has gone up greatly, the guitar has come back to its own, and even band instruments show an increase in sales—so education does pay commercially!
I never thought of this before. It is a good point to remember when we are trying to gain greater support for adult education and the widening of horizons for individuals, so that life may be more worth living.
I came to New York on the midnight train last night and I have taken my first lesson to improve my speaking voice. It seems stupid not to have done this before, but I am always so busy and I never realized till lately that as one grows older it is important not to strain one's voice. One must take advantage of anything which can make life easier for oneself and pleasanter for other people.