• U.S.

INDUSTRY: Glad Hand Spurned

5 minute read

The 90 right hands of 90 tycoons last week clasped one another at White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. There at the call of the recovery committees of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers were Owen D. Young (General Electric), Silas Hardy Strawn (U. S. Chamber of Commerce), Henry I. Harriman (U. S. Chamber of Commerce), Clinton Lloyd Bardo (Manufacturers Association), Lewis H. Brown (Johns-Manville), Paul W. Litchfield (Goodyear Tires), Charles Bismark Ames (Texas Corp.), Ernest T. Weir (National Steel), Walter Jodok Kohler (of Kohler), George Harrison Houston (Baldwin Locomotives), Andrew Wells Robertson (Westinghouse) and 79 others. They were all rehearsing to extend the glad hand of friendship to the New Deal.

Their genuine wish was to give the New Deal any help they could toward Recovery. Their enthusiasm for the New Deal might be something less than wholehearted but not their enthusiasm for Recovery. The 90 gentlemen diligently hoped that their extended hands would be welcome to Franklin Roosevelt.

With this hope they sat down to draft a platform expounding their economic ideas for recovery. For three days in smoke-filled rooms, under the placating influence of Owen D. Young, they worked to disguise their instinctive distrust of the Roosevelt Administration in language that would promote amity and cooperation. Chief points in their 5,000-word platform:

Relief. When the sub-committee on relief reported its plank, it was evident how far the 90 tycoons had traveled. Three years ago it would have been hard to find one of them who would not have been ready to denounce the pauperizing effect of the dole.* Yet last week. knowing the dole to be far cheaper than made work, their sub-committee plumped solidly for the dole. But such straightforward language would never do. President Roosevelt feels now about the dole as the tycoons felt three years ago, favors work relief as a means of preserving morale among the jobless. Hence, in final draft, the conference recommended reductions of Federal relief expenditures, the return of relief to the states as far as practical; declared public works undertaken for the sole object of providing jobs as wasteful; advised that work relief pay should be lower than the rate paid by industry, to encourage private reemployment.

Unemployment Insurance. “A sound solution must be based upon a definite knowledge and not merely upon a commendable desire. . . . There is . . . ample time for thorough investigation.”

Labor. “Employers and employes should be free to bargain collectively or individually . . . without coercion from any source. . . . Men should be protected in their right to work as well as in their right to strike. . . . We believe that sympathetic general strikes or walkouts, blacklists and boycotts should be prohibited.”

Finance. “. . . A balanced budget in 1937 will contribute both to business recovery and to increase in Federal revenue. . . .”

Government Competition. Aside from slum clearance, the Government should not start housing schemes in competition with private capital. Already competing in 200 kinds of business, it should cease such activities to provide work relief. “Our government was neither conceived nor fashioned to engage in competition with its citizens.”

NRA. When the Recovery Act expires next June it should be renewed for one year only on a limited basis. Continuation of codes should be voluntary; minimum wages, maximum hours and prohibition of child labor should be a parf of all codes; Section 7(a) should be amended so as not to force a closed shop on any industry; price fixing should be limited to the prevention of “price demoralization”; no industry not in interstate commerce should be codified: the Government should not require compliance certificates or discriminate against any firm until it is judicially adjudged a code violator.

When the 90 tycoons had finished this platform, they looked upon it, thought it a friendly overture. Chairman Ames of the conference put it under his arm and started to Washington to offer it and his own right hand to President Roosevelt. But a Right hand can never know for sure when a Left hand will shake and when it will not. At the White House Presidential Secretary Marvin Mclntyre told Mr. Ames that the President was too busy to see him that day.

Said Relief Administrator Hopkins: “Don’t make me cry: it’s Christmas time. Some people spending two or three days thinking how relief should be handled and deciding in the sacred precincts of White Sulphur Springs on sending a few baskets of groceries to the unemployed, are not of much importance.”

*The National Industrial Conference Board last week published its findings on the relative costs of the dole and work relief: country-wide average cost of the dole, $24.83 per case per month; average cost of work relief, $36.56 per case. But there were wide variations between states: In Delaware the dole cost $26.14 and work relief $109.92 per case: in Kentucky the dole cost $10.89, work relief $10.82; in nine states the dole cost more than work relief. Extreme example, Maryland: dole $78.04, work relief $37.71.

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