NOVEMBER 27, 1946
NEW YORK, Tuesday—To pick up the paper these days is to realize how many suggestions are always made whenever we find ourselves in a really difficult position!
On one page we see that a man from Texas thinks that he could supply the East with 50,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas a day, beginning in about three weeks. Then there are ingenious suggestions for extricating the government and John L. Lewis from their differences and making the coal-mine operators and Mr. Lewis undertake to solve their problems. If the government urges this on Mr. Lewis and he accepts, it might prevent a great many coal customers from turning to other kinds of fuel, such as the natural gas suggested. Someday our scientific research on the peacetime use of atomic energy may make all of our present fuels obsolete, but in the meantime coal is still important.
Next we see that one of our lawmakers is suggesting that we outlaw all strikes in basic industries and compel arbitration! That would be hard to swallow, for strikes have almost come to be considered one of the basic human rights. However, the people as a whole do not like to be made uncomfortable and the threat that the AFL and the CIO might combine in backing up Mr. Lewis, and thus practically paralyze the country, has had a very sobering effect on a great many people.
What I personally fear is that people who ordinarily keep their heads, are not vindictive, and do not swing too far either one way or the other, will through sheer annoyance at the discomfort heaped upon them do things which they would never do in their calmer moments. Many industries have already begun to slow down, more and more people are going to be out of work, and Christmas is only a month away.
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Coal miners can remember back some fourteen or fifteen years ago when their Christmas dinners were non-existent and when Christmas morning dawned with no toys for their children. Mr. Lewis won't suffer, but there will be a lot of fathers in this country who will wonder why they were forced into idleness. And in other countries, many, many people had hoped to have a little warmth this year from coal imported from the U.S.A.
There will be other repercussions. To be dependent upon people of another country who have no understanding of what their actions mean in faraway lands, must be a bitter thing to accept. People the world over are dependent on us, and we don't seem to realize it!
This coal strike is causing serious trouble at home. But what will trouble other nations is the implication that we, the strongest nation in the world and the least hurt materially in the war, cannot manage our own affairs and successfully make an economic comeback. We begin to move forward but then we are thrust back by new obstacles. Others wonder where this will end. No country in the world can hope to make a comeback in the economic field unless we make it first and are prepared to help them. Yet we seem to go our way blithely indifferent to the effect our actions have on the rest of the world.