A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport,Pres. and technique American industry has always leaned heavily on Europe. Even the “backward” continents of Asia, Africa, and South America boast some excellent scientists and engineers, although they have fewer than they need and although those they have got lack the laboratory and factory facilities of Europe and America. The gobbledegook word “know-how” was popularized by those who wrote advertising copy for our industrial corporations, to flatter our national vanity. Besides, it filled us customers with proper awe for the mysterious and beneficent power of these corporations to supply us with gadgets which we ought to consider cheap at almost any price. In two specific fields we do indeed excel. It was we Americans who, because of our huge free-trade home market, developed mass production and the low unit cost which mass production makes possible. The other way we excel is a psychological matter. Because we have lived for centuries amidst bountiful natural resources and in an expanding economy, we are perhaps the world’s most hopeful people. We display, therefore, an initiative and a daring that the world really needs. Or, at least, we display them at home. We have not been displaying them lately in our foreign policy. If the economy of the world began to expand sharply, our hopefulness and initiative could prove extremely catching. I suspect that the reason we like to think that only Americans have know-how is that we feel self-conscious about our riches in a poor world. Like most rich people, we would rather our neighbors thought of us as unusually skillful than as unusually lucky. Human beings envy good luck but they respect skill, and we Americans, quite naturally, would rather be respected than envied. But we will not decrease the envy by talking loudly about our know-how. And we should remember that any talk these days is loud thanks to the world press and radio. We had better be careful not to sound to other nations the way the Russians sound to us when they claim that practically all important inventions and discoveries have been Russian. The job that we have been talking about here needs technical men not only from America but from the whole world. It particularly needs those familiar with the local conditions, languages, and customs in the spots where the work has to be done. Santa Claus with slide rule But aside from the fact that the United States has neither enough dollars nor enough experts available to do the job, there are other compelling reasons why we Americans should call in our neighbors, not to help us complete the job but to plan it with us and get it started with us. American help on this job depends on congressional approval. Anybody who followed the hearings and debates of Congress, on Mr. Truman’s “Point Four” proposal for “a bold, new program,” will quickly see why it is fatal for America to go on playing Santa Claus fatal, regardless of how big a sack of gifts America may carry on her broad shoulders. Santa Claus always distinguishes sharply between good little boys and bad little boys. And Congress tries to do the same. It simply will not give presents to bad little boys that is, to those not clearly playing on our team against Russia. But the Bible says it rains alike on the just and the unjust. Most of the rainfall runs in rivers to the sea. These rivers have an annoying habit of ignoring the morals of the nations that live in their watersheds. If Congress had stipulated that TVA must help the people of Tennessee while injuring the people of Alabama and Kentucky, Mr. Lilienthal would have had an even tougher problem than he did have. Yet Congress has a foreign policy “Stop Russia” aimed at protecting America, and it is not going to “develop” foreign countries unless it knows how such development will affect its own foreign policy. So Congress sticks to peanuts, the world economy continues to stumble along, the Communist proposal remains the only available proposal, and we are back where we started. Congress sees this problem, and all problems, through cold-war spectacles, and this problem cannot be examined well through those particular spectacles. But quite aside from the spectacles, why should Congress play Santa Claus at all? Why should the Senator from Ohio, let us say, vote large sums to help Indonesia rebuild its economy? When he campaigned back home, he certainly promised a lot of things to the people of Ohio; and maybe, even, he promised something or other to the people of the other forty-seven states. But he never promised anything to Indonesia. For one thing, there are no votes in Indonesia not at least for Ohioans who happen to be running for the Senate. Frankly I sympathize with the Senator from Ohio. The Senator is under heavy pressure. When the Marshall Plan was before Congress, somebody remembered that the Navajo Indians were having an awful time. Why vote money for Europeans when our own Americans indeed, the original Americans were in such a desperate fix? And you don’t have to use the Navajos to make the same point. A lot of Americans are dirt poor without being Navajos. What about Santa Claus coming down their chimney for a change? Good dollars always come home Or look at it through European eyes. When the Marshall Plan was voted, Congress argued that the money must be spent for American goods. Economists quickly pointed out that, since the dollar shortage was world-wide, a dollar let loose in Europe would find its way home to the American market anyhow, as surely as a carrier pigeon finds its loft. If Europe used it to buy South American goods because they were cheaper than ours, then South America would buy more from us and would have to send us the dollar. But the argument did not persuade our business interests. The European, listening to that debate, wondered if the real purpose of the Marshall Plan aside from hurting Russia by buying allies might not be the purpose of paying Europe to haul away our surplus goods. Under our “free-enterprise” system, he reasoned, that surplus would choke our economy, cause unemployment, and bring on the depression which everybody, including the Americans, was predicting. The European took the needed aid but he wondered. If he had not, the Communists in his own country were there to remind him to wonder. They were shrieking that the real purpose of the Marshall Plan was to dump our goods on Europe, and make her
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