MAY 13, 1958
NEW YORK—I came across the other day a statement made by the American Bankers Association in favor of a five-year renewal of the Reciprocal Trade Act. It said in part:
"It would be fallacious and dangerous for us to try to stimulate economic recovery in the U.S. by creating greater restrictions on the entry of products from abroad. Such restrictions would serve to increase the impact of the current recession on other nations of the free world and to depress further the demand for products of our own export industries.
"By broadening the market for our own products and stimulating world trade in general, we can make an important contribution to the economic well-being both of the U.S. and the entire world."
And in the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Report on Economic Growth, which was released in April, the group had this to say:
"We strongly recommend the continuance of reciprocal trade policy, administered so as to promote gradual and selective tariff reductions—an expanding volume of trade can make a most significant contribution to our general economic growth."
Undoubtedly some of our industrialists find it hard to agree with these decisions, made on the overall economic basis, because their particular business finds it difficult to meet competition from some areas of the world.
This is almost inevitable. But it has come to my attention, though I have not been able to verify it, that one of our difficulties is that in some cases we have been growing lax in keeping up our industrial machine. This is an area in which we always have been careful to keep ahead, for in doing so we managed to give our workers better pay and better conditions and still compete in foreign markets.
Of course, it is also true that in some cases we accepted lower profits in foreign markets. It may well be that, to keep up the volume of sales, at some point there will have to be a revision of the return on money invested and a readjustment of executive and management costs, which at times seem out of proportion to the amount that the worker gets from his labors.
It seems to me today, however, that the free trade unions have a great responsibility to work as they have never worked before to bring about higher standards of pay and working conditions for their fellow workers in other areas of the world, since they will not be able to keep up their own standards in this country unless the standards in competing areas of the world rise proportionately.
I have great sympathy with those who do not want to see a tax cut at the present time because it doesn't seem to be the way to meet the recession.
In the war days ways were found to stimulate greater production. I wonder if there could not be incentives now for the investment of capital in new businesses, creating new jobs somewhat along the pattern used in the war emergency. This concerns not only the workers but also the industrialists, since the well-being of both is essential to a sound business situation in this country.