JULY 20, 1945
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I was thinking the other day, when the big bomber plant at Willow Run closed, how wonderful it would have been if something could have been worked out between the Government and the Ford organization, so that this could have been the first example of how the Government and industry, working together, might utilize such plants in some new way.
The Ford organization undoubtedly has a research staff with the ability to work out something new which can be done with an already existing setup. However, the problem to be worked out between the Government and industry, where the Government is part or whole investor in a plant, is complicated.
There has been much agitation for fear that plants built with Government money would be turned over to large organizations for token payments and then closed instead of being utilized. This might create mass unemployment, for we know that these plants are needed in operation to keep us prosperous. But surely this problem of how to work with the Government cannot be insurmountable.
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I know little or nothing about business, but I know what happens to people when they are without work. I have been reading for months about what industry wants to do, and how it hopes to do it with as little interference from the Government as possible. We want to hold to our free enterprise system in this country, but it seems to me that the first thing to do is to work out some method by which the Government and industry can collaborate in keeping everyone of these plants running and employing people.
This was why I felt a little sad when I read about the closing ceremony at Willow Run. Quite rightly, both the workers and the management of the plant were congratulated on what they had achieved which was of value in the war, but there is an equally important job to be done in peacetime.
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During these past months, the Ford research organization must have been at work on their part in industry's future development for peace. I wish that, on this occasion, they could have said to the country as a whole: "Our war work has been well done, but it is over now. Therefore, we hope to take the lead along the path to full peacetime employment. We have worked out a plan with the Government whereby we can continue to use this plant. We know what can be made in it, and no man or woman who wishes to keep his or her job need be without employment, once we have had time to reconvert for our new operations".
Something of this kind would have given me a tremendous sense of confidence in the leadership of industry in this country. Perhaps it could not be. I do not know enough about it to be sure, but I am sure that many others, like myself, would have had renewed confidence if such a dream could have come true.