OCTOBER 9, 1946
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Both the President and Paul Porter of the OPA have very courageously explained to the people of the country why we are at present having a shortage of meat. Incidentally, I was amused yesterday to read of a Kansas farmer who said that he and his family were quite well off and had no desire to visit the cities, which had a meat famine. So the whole country is not starving!
I think it would be well for us to recognize a fact which we are apt to forget—namely, that a long war, in which most of our resources were devoted to producing war materials, means a slow return to normal conditions. The law of supply and demand, which you see invoked daily by someone, cannot operate when the supply cannot possibly equal the demand.
The fairest thing to everyone would be to resume the rationing system under which people shared equally. If there was very little, at least everybody got the same amount. To have kept our wage and price levels and to have accepted our restrictions until our industries had a chance to reconvert, until our armies had a chance to come home, and until labor had returned to more normal conditions, would have meant perhaps some black-market profiteering but, by and large, conditions would have been fairer for all concerned.
We could not wait, however. We would not face actual conditions. We hoped for a miracle which would let us reconvert overnight and give us prewar conditions without any period of readjustment. We are suffering now because we would not face realities.
* * *
There is a second problem which we will not face, and that is the problem of displaced persons in Europe. Europe is not able to support them, and these displaced people do not wish to work and to establish homes in that part of the world where they have suffered so greatly. They want to start in a new place. The President has tried to make us realize that there are displaced persons who might be of great value to us. Our example is needed by other nations.
The President has made a strong plea, too, that the recommendation of the Anglo-American Committee for allowing 100,000 Jews immediately to enter Palestine be upheld. The British seem shocked at this idea. And the Arabs suddenly announced that it would require 600,000 American soldiers to enforce this recommendation. Why this sudden desire to see American soldiers replace British soldiers? Great Britain has the mandate for Palestine—not the Arabs, nor the United States—and Great Britain asked for a joint commission to make recommendations on what should be done there.
I think President Truman is asking us to give him some backing in our domestic meat situation. The Government is not sitting back complacently. We may even buy Argentine beef. In the foreign field, even though the President is accused of bidding for votes because of his interest in 100,000 Jews, I think he probably realizes that right-thinking people here do not want any people to continue behind barbed wire either on Cyprus or in Germany or in any other part of the world.