SEPTEMBER 16, 1950
NEW YORK, Friday—I am glad to see that our representatives in Washington feel strongly that we must have an excess-profits tax if we expect to stop the rise in prices. Later, labor will be asked to accept a ceiling on wages. We certainly must stop all excess profits stemming from the war effort. Excess profits of all kinds during an emergency period are unthinkable.
The rise in the personal income tax will bring home to all individuals that they are paying their share for the changed conditions under which we are living. And this only makes it more important to see that the excess profits made in business are taxed in the same proportion, or at an even higher rate.
I know well the argument that an excess-profit tax makes people less willing to risk their money and to develop new businesses and, therefore, hurts the economy of the nation. That argument always seemed to me more valid in ordinary times, when people really should show initiative in new business ventures in order to start more peacetime activities. At present there will not be the necessity nor the opportunity for that kind of initiative.
One of the sad things about war or preparation for war is the fact that it is so easy to find work for everyone. In fact, we urge people who otherwise are reluctant to go to work to do so out of patriotism. Then when they get the habit we are surprised that they do not return to nonpaying occupations when the emergency is over.
I will be glad when the day comes that all nations' contributions to the United Nations will be greater and when the collective force will be within the United Nations. Then the individual nations will be able, to a certain degree, to lessen their expenses for armament and put their major contributions into the welfare of the people.
In a time like this it is necessary to stop a great many things that are badly needed. For instance, I understand that housing will have to be somewhat curtailed. I know that in some states—where administrations have not kept a sufficiently large school building program apace with the growth of the population—there is a need for new school buildings, but these, too, will lag. Diverting essential materials to war purposes will slow down these programs.
One of the things that many states have failed to prepare is a careful survey of the needs of teachers. The lack of teachers is great everywhere, and there must be specific reasons for this. Of course, the principal reason given is that teachers' salaries are not acceptable. But there must be more to it than that and I think this problem should be studied thoroughly in every state. The education for democracy is dependent on the quality of our teachers.