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anhawkvalua”…400641,1+.4iii.,* ,…prio.4444WAInar A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. Let’s Join the Human Race By Stringfellow Barr That “free enterprise” can do the job better than government. This, I have already suggested, is False Assumption Number Three in our American discussion of the main problem. Even more than our assumption that the problem is merely an American problem, this free-enterprise assumption cannot possibly produce anything bigger than peanuts for what is the biggest constructive job of modern times. The assumption that private capital can do the job runs head-on against a hard fact: there is not enough private capital available. Private capital has other jobs to do. If we could solve the problem by leaving it to “business leadership,” that would be fine. But we cannot. Private capital goes only where those who manage it think it can make the most money. This is one reason businessmen proudly call private enterprise “free enterprise.” It is free to hunt maximum profit. It is free to enter underdeveloped areas if it likes. Does it? The hard fact is that it does not not in anything like the quantities needed. From 1945 to 1948, outside of the Export-Import Bank, American business invested only two and one-tenth billion dollars in all foreign countries, including the foreign countries that least need developing. Some businessmen, confronted with this hard fact, try to get around it by claiming that they would gladly invest in underdeveloped countries if they could trust the governments of those countries. They are afraid of “socialist” controls, of currency restrictions that would keep them from converting their profits into dollars, of labor restrictions that would prevent them from getting “cheap labor,” even of having their business nationalized without adequate compensation. So they want “treaty concessions” dangerous words in most parts of the world. Most dangerous precisely in those parts that have been colonies of Europe. Those are the parts that have been forced for centuries to make “concessions.” So again they smell imperialism. American businessmen propose that Washington guarantee them against losses from local political “interference.” If Washington does, it will have strong reason to put pressure on local governments not to interfere. “Imperialism again,” says the colonial world. This is the kind of policy we simply cannot follow except through puppet governments, well armed against “socialist discontent” a term we could quickly shorten to “communism.” But even if Washington could be persuaded to create by these measures what some of our businessmen call “a favorable climate for investment,” it would not work. The job is too vast for American business, and it is the wrong job. All those who know the problem are agreed that the things these countries need are road systems, school systems, public sanitation, hospitals, agricultural experiment stations, electric power, irrigation, before the “free enterpriser” can do his stuff. Roads? No use boosting crops if you cannot get them to market. Schools? An illiterate population cannot compete in the modern world of technology. Public sanitation? With millions of people weakened by malaria, how can a country produce? Irrigation? Rich lands, without water, remain a desert, a desert that leaves the free-enterprise go-getter exactly where it leaves the Arab helpless. What can he go and get? Sand? In America the businessman assumes there are highways, that people can read his advertisements, that the population is reasonably healthy and productive, that government irrigation works are available where water is short. He had better stop assuming such things about the countries we are discussing here. If he knew the facts, he would have stopped assuming before the congressional hearings ever started. Who Built Jack’s House “But,” says the businessman, “private enterprise built this country!” No. It helped build it. At every stage government intervened. It drove out the Indians, the Dutch, the French, the Spaniards. It made gigantic grants of land to the men who built our railways. Through a high tariff it gave American business a near-monopoly of the home market. It constructed vast irrigation works. It supplied a public health service. Government, local or national, built our roads almost three and a half million miles of them. It built schools and paid teachers. It provides constant services to businessmen today. It put a floor of cheap power, navigation, and soil conservation under the Tennessee Valley. For these are things which private individuals cannot do, or cannot do well, except through the one agency that represents the entire community government. Even so, we Americans were able to do a bigger share as individuals than many peoples could hope to do today. Compare, for example, the Mississippi Valley in our country with the Orinoco Valley in Venezuela. I happen to choose these because I have been in both, but there are many other examples. Not only is the Mississippi Valley one of the two richest agricultural areas on this planet because God, not “the American way of life,” made them that way but it never offered the vast sanitation problems that the Orinoco does, not even in its southernmost reaches. Or take Asia and Africa. They are in many portions already supporting dense populations. North America was almost empty when we took over. Endless stretches of rich land, unclaimed except by sparse and primitive tribes, awaited our exploitation. In short, the parallel of our own national history cannot help us if we want to think about the real problem, instead of merely Stringfellow Barr wrote this broadside in 1949 after touring Latin America. It is therefore immediately concerned with the events and personalities of the late forties, but, though the details and even the terms of argument over the Third World have Changed, though we are told we are entering a “generation of peace” safeguarded by the collusion of superpowers who were waging Cold War at the time of Barr’s meditations, the hopes and ideals of “Let’s Join the Human Race” are still fundamental ones. Copyright 1950 by The University of Chicago Press. Reprinted by permission.