OCTOBER 20, 1947
HYDE PARK, Sunday—According to the papers this morning, Congressmen returning to Washington are reporting that in many parts of the country people feel high prices are due primarily to the fact that this country is exporting too much to other countries. Yet I recall seeing a table recently which gave the comparison in percentages of the amounts exported of every product, and these were small indeed when compared with the increase in the percentages of what we are using at home. We are consuming far more than we did before the war. The scarcity of goods, in other words, arises not so much from export as from increased consumption at home.
More production is the obvious answer. Foreign purchasing over here is bound to decrease because of the shortage of dollars. But even then I doubt if prices will come down much, and it seems to me that we should face squarely what it will mean to us if chaos overtakes Europe. I am not thinking primarily about the effect it will have on people's political thinking—though that should be of some concern if we believe that our form of democracy is in the long run the best form of government for the good of the greatest number of people.
I am thinking, however, of the friends we will lose in the world if we do not help people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and to live through this present period. How will they feel about us when we offer them our surplus products in the future? Somehow I feel that our Congressmen should go back to their home districts and stimulate some new lines of thought.
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In our U. N. Committee Number Three, we are still talking about trade-union rights, and now we have a subcommittee to try to gather together all the various resolutions and amendments in the hope that we can formulate one—or, at most, two—alternatives! The basic question, of course, is: Where is the proper place to discuss trade-union rights? There is no doubt in any of our minds that these rights should be thoroughly discussed, but some of us seem to differ on whether Committee Number Three is the place where this can be done most satisfactorily.
The next two days will resolve this difference, I hope, and in the meantime we have been asked to take up the Children's Emergency Fund as the next point on our agenda. I feel sure that on this item there will be general agreement, and I shall not be much surprised if every one of us feels we have to state our warm approval. In that case there will be many speeches. Perhaps the chairman will work out some ingenious kind of roll call in which we can all be registered without too many words being used!