AUGUST 30, 1945
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—The committee in Washington has been holding hearings on what is known as the Full Employment Bill, and in reading the papers I gather that there was a great volume of support for the passage of this bill. However, I have also read a considerable number of articles where the authors seem to feel that while full employment is a desirable objective, this bill will do no good. In fact, they say, it is pernicious, because all that we need is to remove all restrictions on private industry and private industry will do the job.
These people, it seems to me, are unrealistic and have short memories. There were no restrictions on private industry during the depression; and we cannot afford another depression. It therefore seems to me that we should back and fight for a bill which faces the realities of the situation.
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Private industry should do all that it possibly can, and it should be given every opportunity to do it. One little practice which existed in the past, however, should not be revived. An over-supply of labor, ready to accept low wages in preference to starvation, should never again be allowed to exist to increase the profits of employers and investors. To prevent this, the government has to see that the conditions under which men work and the returns which they receive for their work are adequate, and that all men who want to work have an opportunity to work, so that they are not held in a forced pool of unemployment for the benefit of employers.
This may mean that investors and the management side of business can claim only a reasonable return on their investments and on their part of the work of industry. That is one of the things which we have to accept if the world is to be a better world for the average man and woman in the future.
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If, with these restrictions, industry can do the whole job, then let us be grateful and let them do it. If at any time they can not do it, however, then the government must have in reserve new things to develop for the good of the whole country—things that will provide more opportunities in the future for industry to use more labor.
Some people seem to feel that of necessity this must constantly increase our national debt. But that is not a necessity. Many government investments have paid out in the past, and will pay out many times over in the future. The thing for us to remember is that the men who fought this war on the various fronts throughout the world, and in the shops at home, have fought it to obtain a better way of life. They want more security, less fear, greater happiness. This is not communism. This is what democracy must make possible. Otherwise, it will not survive this period of world change.