NOVEMBER 20, 1947
NEW YORK, Wednesday—Sen. Robert A. Taft has said that the President's program to combat inflation is tantamount to turning our nation into a "police state." And yet, when we face the fact that the fight for peace and economic prosperity is as difficult in many ways as was the fight to mobilize our forces for war, we cannot be much surprised that some of the same powers are requested again by the chief executive.
It is interesting that Mr. Taft and the Republicans on the right are upset by any price controls that are suggested, and on the other hand, murmurs appear in the press at the suggestion that wages may have to be fixed also. It is always the fate of the man in the middle, who has to make decisions and carry out plans, to be attacked from both sides, since quite naturally his plan must take an overall view and no one who has to give up anything is ever very happy. Labor, however, will be better off if the high cost of living is curbed.
And it would seem that a certain amount of stability for a year, with a firm determination to produce to the utmost, might strengthen our free-enterprise system. It would show that we really know how to manage our economy and that intelligent cooperation can be obtained without a dictatorial system.
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I was glad to see the other day that there would be an inquiry into the question of whether refusal to expand the steel industry was right or wrong. It is quite obvious that by refusing to expand we might, through creating a scarcity, keep the price high. It is also obvious that by over expanding we might bring the price down too far, or might end by having to close down part of our facilities—which would mean a loss to the workers, who would be faced with a shift to some other employment.
Either way is not economically sound. But surely it is possible for men trained in business to make a wise decision to meet increasing needs and not succumb to the greed of keeping prices too high, and yet not to go too far in expanding, either. In a different way, this same thing applies to the farmers.
And in reading the President's recommendations, I for one am inclined to feel that they are very realistic. They take into account the weaknesses of human nature and they defend us against ourselves—which at times is sadly necessary.
The mere fact that he asks for restoration of consumer credit controls, that he wants to curb inflationary bank credits and to regulate speculative trading on commodity exchanges, shows that the American people are rather prone to gambling. We want things and we are willing to take a risk to get them. Sometimes the gamble is not legitimate, and it is well for some controls to exist to help us to regulate our own desires.
I particularly like the request for legislation to enable the Department of Agriculture to expand its program of encouraging conservation practices in this country, and to authorize measures designed to increase the production of food in foreign countries. Failure to do the latter has been one of our great mistakes before. We must concentrate now on helping Europe to produce rather than on merely giving relief to the peoples of the world.