JANUARY 5, 1950
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—By the time this column appears the President's message on the State of the Union will have been presented to Congress.
This Congress is not going to have an easy session. Many of its members will have to think of coming elections in the fall of 1950, and the shadow of the next Presidential election also hangs over these mid-term Congressional elections.
There is a division in the Republican party. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon wants to go back to their platform of 1948 and consider that as the pattern which they will continue to present to the people as the basis of future Republican policy. Other members of the party, however, want reconsideration of the whole policy and talk of doing away with what they term the "welfare state" and "statism." So far they have not defined very carefully what they actually intend to do on the positive side, but party leaders have just announced that they will soon meet to state their aims.
Lack of a positive program has long been one of the troubles of the Republican party. It has opposed policies ever since the New Deal began, but it is never very clear in what ways it will accomplish better conditions for the people. Even when business was good in the New Deal years it kept asserting that business was about to go to the dogs. Today, under President Truman's Fair Deal policies, the same threats are being dinned into our ears. If you read the financial pages of the newspapers, however, the actual earnings of big corporations on the whole impress you by their prosperity.
* * *
There is a division, also, on economic theories in the Democratic party.
The one thing that really puzzles me is that I do find we are hearing more and more of people who are longer out of work before they find a job. And this is not only because they wish a particular kind of job and can afford to wait until they find it. I think it is, in part, that business is not actually trying to do new things to create more jobs when improvements in machinery give them an opportunity for greater profits and eliminate some of the men needed on the old jobs. I know there has been curtailment in government spending, which has created some hardship. And perhaps this has created some unjustified apprehension among business people who had been getting big government orders and who fear they cannot replace them commercially and so put men out of work rather than continue high production in an uncertain sales market.
* * *
This new session of Congress will face a re-thinking on economic theory.
Are we going to base both our economy at home and abroad on a theory of greater abundance, or are we going to continue the old theory of scarcity?
What Congress decides shall be done for countries that have been considered backward in the past will have to be done after this general theory has been considered. The only advantage of giving new opportunities to earn to people who had little in the past lies in giving them a vision of new desires, which basically must go with the economic theory of abundance in the world as a whole.