- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 26 Nov 1943, p. 65-95
- Carney, Ralph W., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The speaker here to lend his services to Canada's War Finance Committee and to the Canadian people on behalf of our Fifth Victory Loan. The conflict between two ideas for our postwar future: the Western Hemisphere adaptation of National Socialism, and belief in Democracy. What each of those concepts mean. A detailed discussion follows, with the speaker presenting the case for free enterprise from the standpoint of businessmen. First, an examination of the history of American and Canadian industry: a constantly improved product and service, at a constantly reduced price. Also, a close look at those who govern. Defending big business. Witnessing with grave apprehension the tremendously increased organization of Labor on one hand, and on the other, the increased organization of Government. The folly of social security. The security of opportunity. Problems of deficit budgets, and of creating debt. Protecting future generations from debt.
- Date of Original
- 26 Nov 1943
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- Full Text
- A BUSINESS MAN SPEAKS UP
AN ADDRESS BY MR. RALPH W. CARNEY,
Chairman: The President, Mr. W. Eason Humphreys
Tuesday, November 26, 1943
MR. HUMPHREYS: Last May, a voice was heard from this platform and through this microphone, which made a very marked impression upon everyone who heard it--the voice was that of Mr. Ralph W. Carney.
Mr. Carney's address on that occasion had to be rebroadcast several times, and more than 20,000 printed copies have so far been asked for. Few men have provoked such public interest within the scope of this platform. And by the way, Mr. Carney, I agree with so many others that your tribute to the British Empire on that occasion is a classic, and that it might well find a place in the school-books of our children.
Not only does Mr. Carney honour us with another address today, which I know will be thought-provoking, but, through the War Finance Committee, he is donating about two weeks of his time and talent to the "Speed the Victory" campaign-a neighbourly act for which Canada is truly grateful.
Forgive me if I take a moment more for the sake of those who may be hearing Mr. Carney in person for the first time.
Ralph W. Carney is Vice-President of the Coleman Lamp and Stove Company of Wichita, Kansas. He and his colleagues in the United States and in Canada are inspired with but a single purpose-that purpose being to help their fellow countrymen through the war and the peace to follow by deeds and by public discussion.
Like most of us, Mr. Carney is a business man, but otherwise he is really a soldier without a gun on a home front. He did admit, however, to carrying a vocal machine gun!
Mr. Carney has already given two bond campaign speeches this morning, and he speaks again over the air tonight, before the thousands of people who will be at Massey Hall to hear him in person.
It is with keen anticipation that I now introduce Mr. Ralph W. Carney, whose address is entitled: "A Business Man Speaks Up".
MR. CARNEY: This audience today and your kind and cordial reception is a heart-warming thing to an American who was a stranger to most all of you only a few months ago. An audience of this kind does not appear by accident and, because you accepted, with such kindliness, the message that I had for you before, I know you are here today with some degree of expectation in your minds and I truly hope that this will not be an anticlimax, although, when we remove from our discussion the natural militant appeals of wartime, and extract from it the emotions aroused when we contemplate the dangers and the sacrifices of our sons, it means that this discussion today must, of necessity, be more matter-of-fact, with the end and aim of provoking serious thought rather than that of arousing any prairie fire of enthusiasm.
I'm here in Canada again, to lend my services for whatever they may be worth to your War Finance Committee and to the Canadian people on behalf of your Fifth Victory Loan, and every other talk with one exception that I shall make in Canada will be on behalf of your Fifth Victory Loan and a re-stimulation of flagging war spirits, if there be any, and I believe that my confrere and associate, Mr. Weldon, has arranged engagements, both noon and night, for every day I am here--Saturdays and Sundays included! How he happened to miss breakfast engagements, I shall never know! And when you lay me to rest at the end of this two weeks, please remember that not all soldiers die on a battle front!
Therefore, I may be pardoned if I depart from the war-time and Victory Loan theme, for a straight discussion here, one business man to another; more or less as if I were sitting with you in your offices.
Please believe me when I tell you that there is no political implication in anything I say, either as affecting parties in the United States, or here in Canada, and certainly not the latter because it would be presumptuous of me to advise on matters of opinion as between your own political parties.
I do not view our postwar future in terms of differences between political parties as we know them; but there is a definite conflict between two ideas, the same conflict that is now bringing about internecine warfare in Greece and differences between Mikhailovitch and Tito's partisans where we might hope that all the Greeks and all of the Czechs and all of the Jugoslavs would be fighting the Nazis, and this conflict of ideas is almost worldwide in character carrying little relationship to parties, because parties, in America at least, are split right down the middle. Those two ideas are
First--The Western Hemisphere adaptation of National Socialism, without its European brutality, and with only, to start with, a "gloved-hand Gestapo", but nevertheless Socialism, Fascism, Communism, whatever you may want to name it. It is supported by all of the LeftWingers, who are very adapt in throwing the name "Fascist" at anyone who opposes Socialism or Communism, and it represents a control in the hands of the inexperienced and impractical few of the activities of the many, and a complete destruction of private enterprise and the rules and laws of thrift and incentive as we have known them.
The defenders of this idea use very high-sounding names and phrases with constant references to "the common man", without ever identifying just who this common man may be--I think that we are all common men--and with unctious cries about "human rights being paramount always to property rights", the implication being that anyone who has ever earned and saved, who has obeyed the laws of industry and thrift, must therefore be a wretched opponent of human rights. Actually, you know, it is those who have acquired some substance that support the churches and schools and hospitals and community chests, and they contribute toward every movement having to do with human rights.
I would like to quote to you the statement of the greatest "Common Man" in American history--born in a log cabin--educated before a fire place--a rail splitter and a country storekeeper--the poorest man ever to enter the White House
"Property is the fruit of labor, property is desirable, is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise . . . Let not him who is homeless pull down the house of another, but let him labor diligently to build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence. . . . I don't believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good."
You may quarrel, if you wish, with Ralph Carney, but it would be pretty silly for these so-called friends of the common man to quarrel with Abraham Lincoln, the friend of all the poor and the emancipator of the slaves.
And then again, Winston Churchill, one of the all-time great men of British history
"WE MUST BEWARE," said Winston Churchill--"We must beware of trying to build a society in which nobody counts for anything except a politician or an official, a society where enterprise gains no reward, and thrift no privileges."
You may quarrel with Ralph Carney, if you wish, but I should not advise you to quarrel with Winston Churchill, unless you do so within the privacy of your own bathroom.
The Second Idea--Belief in Democracy--and that is a very simple thing; namely, the right of an individual to be born, to an education, and then the sky's the limit to make the most of his own abilities, opportunities, industry and thrift. It does not mean that all opportunities are equal, or that all men are equal, because indeed they are not. There is no equality in all of Nature. In every forest one tree grows taller and mightier than the rest, and we point to it with admiration and pride; in every corn field one stalk sends its tassels nearer to the sky, nodding in grateful acknowledgment to the God that enabled it to produce better ears of corn; on every rose bush there is the loveliest flower; in every pack of wild horses there is one stallion for a leader. Equality does not come even within the laws and purposes of God.
Democracy does mean equal opportunity for each man -not necessarily to make as much of himself as some other man of greater capacity and who is willing to pay a greater price--"Let not him who is homeless pull down the house of another"--but an equal opportunity for each man to make the most of himself and his own abilities, and that property rights are human rights inseparable and indistinguishable in the highest sense.
Those are the two diametrically opposed ideas, and they are coming into head-on conflict. The entire purpose of the advocates of the first idea is to take by many 'means and methods, using taxation both for extraction and for punishment, from him who has and give to him who has not.
This isn't God's plan either. Remember how Christ complimented the man with ten talents who traded and made another ten talents, and the man with five who made another five! And whom did He criticize? The man with one talent who buried it and made nothing at all.
Pretty hard to quarrel with Lincoln and Churchill and the Almighty, isn't is?
Since you are business men and have the most to lose through the approach of this creeping form of Fascism, being offered under the deluding name of "Planned Economy", and since my criticism of you lies in the fact that you have been so unwilling to make a determined and organized fight against it, then I think it is right and proper for me to present the case from the standpoint of the business than.
Please understand now, that nothing I say has any application to war policies, emergencies or methods. I do not even have in mind a lot of the war waste and inefficiency--only the trend that had already made itself plain before the war and will, with increasing force, after this war is over.
One of the mistakes that we had made in the United States during the ten years before the war was that of departing from the characteristic and typical American (and Canadian, too) custom of self-reliance and the individually solving of our own problems, earning our own rewards and accepting our own penalties, and providing our own security, and we began to let the politicians do it for us.
It may not be true here in Canada, but in the States, the men elected to public office, in so many cases, were not men of great abilities in their private lives but were men of slight ability or men who had failed, because truly capable men would not leave their businesses to run for public office and, while among them of course, were some fine and intelligent representatives and a few, statesmen and skilled administrators of Government--on the whole, those who began to vote away our lives and pocketbooks were not men who were the real leaders of a community, but rather, those who had time for a political campaign and developed within themselves, political ambition.
Because we ran into a world-wide depression following the other World War, for the time being we became like frightened children and we expected these politicians, through some new and strange legerdemain and, by new principles and plans--both unknown and untried--to provide wealth and comfort for us, while no one worked to produce it.
The impression was created that there simply were no jobs except the jobs the Government could provide. Certainly there was panic and unemployment for a short while, just as there has been periodically many times before, and will be again. We had an enormous glut of merchandise that could not be absorbed while people were in the grip of fear and the complete circulation of money had stopped. Just as a pile of ice cream however would begin to melt, so we would have come out of that panic naturally, just as a person afflicted with a slight illness recovers best through the simple laws and forces of Nature. Local communities and states could have taken care of all of the real distress. The local community knew the difference between a lazy man and a worthy man out of work. It would have cost some money, but pennies only to the millions that were spent in Federal cures. States and provinces knew better their own states and provinces than men far removed in a centralized government, particularly when those men were more interested in establishing a new form of government than they were in relieving distress, and merely used human distress as a means to their political end.
Community Chests and the Red Cross were there with experience and offices and organizations that could have been expanded to meet depression conditions.
The equal fact is, that there were many who did not want to work! It was not that they could not find a job but they did not want the job they could find!
To cure that temporary illness that carried some genuine distress for the time being, we began adopting expedients and quack-doctor cures, and doing so each time under the guise of an emergency. Then, it became plain that emergencies could be created so that more cures could be applied and still further enhance the idea of control that became dictatorship, in fact, regardless of what high sounding name you may want to give it.
A haven was provided for all of the lunatic fringe--the crack pots, the theorists, the dreamers, the something-for-nothing boys--who found it easy to spend the other fellow's dollar because they, themselves, had never earned a dollar nor learned its value.
Soon the cure became worse than the disease and every principle of sound private business was discarded in government.
Now it is too bad, and I say this because there will be some critical murmurings here and there when I am through, that no speaker today can discuss economics, or even plain and ordinary phases of business, without being immediately accused of political bias and, I was given some friendly warnings before I came up here--warnings, that I have chosen to disregard because if you did not expect me to speak frankly and sincerely, then you should not have invited me.
The reason for this modern inability to separate Business and Economics from Politics, quite likely is that, from the beginning of our government until the start of our New Deal, business men were more or less free to plan and execute the development of their own industries, controlled by reasonable laws against monopolies and fraud and "combinations in restraint of trade", without a Federal "wet nurse"; nor were they continually frightened by the threatening spectacle of a "governmental woodshed".
Then, too, we were accustomed to government by elected representatives and, regardless of their abilities and experience, we nevertheless elected them and they were our representatives. We knew who they were and we could change or retire them at frequent intervals and rebuke them in the meantime.
I want to clarify one point here, and that is what I mean in my reference to politicians.
While I do include the irresponsible spending type, who think only of election and re-election, through the dispensing of public funds, even more than these I mean the invisible government behind the scenes, for whom no one voted.
I would not have you feel that I am one of those who believes in this present campaign to discredit our Congress or your Parliament. Our last Congress was remark ably courageous and whatever may be said about our representative bodies, and whatever weakness they may have, it still remains that they are the latest and the truest representatives of the people.
Our form of government is not a pure democracy. It is a representative form and when we elect men, we must abide by our own decisions and, rather than to loosely and, in generalities, condemn Congress or Parliament, it would be better if we each became acquainted with our representatives--go to see them when they're home--write them your opinions--wire them when important bills are up for consideration--and let them feel the weight and pressure of your opinions.
It is only natural for them to listen to the voice that cries the loudest and the business men's voice has been distressingly still.
Remember this, that any man who aspires to be a dictator must first burn down the Reichstag! Therefore, I resist and resent the efforts of those who attempt to discredit our Congress because I greatly distrust their motives.
We soon found, however, that Government through edict and directives, and assumption of power, came from those for whom no one at all had voted-bureaucrats--appointees--with no responsibility to the public and who could not be retired from their positions--men who either set themselves up as above the law, or, who attempted to twist and interpret the law to suit their fantastic ideas of social planning and, in my country, a bold and flagrant and direct attempt upon our Supreme Court, when they tried to pack it-an act promptly rebuked by nearly all of our people.
It was those that constituted this inevitable, untouchable government who began to threaten and abuse Business. They controlled the disposition of federal patronage and when they ran out of money, began the expedient of deficit borrowing. They brought many elected representatives within their group because the elected representative wanted his share of the disposition of Federal funds.
Nevertheless, while we were disturbed by the beginning of unbridled spending and unbalanced budgets, business men were still operating under a free economy with the right to invent, engineer, develop and sell their products in open markets, under free competition.
An industry that had, or would provide employment and render a reasonable service to the community and its consuming trade, was encouraged to grow and expand. The acquisition of a new industry was a matter of local rejoicing, in any community so favored, and the occasion for a very pardonable strut upon the part of the president of the Chamber of Commerce
In fact, it was this freedom of enterprise that brought about the astonishing commercial development of both of our countries.
So much now, you hear the words, "free enterprise", and some would make it appear to be a sign of selfishness where, actually, it is a symbol of all progress. Simply stated, it merely means, the right of free men to show enterprise! What's wrong with that?
It's a little puzzling to me today to meet those that advance the idea that no successful business was done in the United States or Canada-no real progress made prior to 1933 and that everything which was done in the way of business organization and expansion was grievously wrong until the political quack-doctors tried to cure the patient of a temporary fainting spell back in 1932.
They seemed to forget that from 1840 to 1930 (a brief span of 90 years only in the life of a nation, and the same period would apply here in Canada), before any of this group of political experimenters and social security Cradle-to-the-Grave, "Womb-to-Tomb" advocates had ever been heard of in public life--before most of them were born-before it was the fashion to try to cure every situation with a federal appropriation--that the axe, the plow, the pioneer and the miner changed this whole country--Pittsburgh to California in the United States; Toronto to Edmonton and Vancouver in Canada-from prairie grass, buffalo sod, desert and forest, into the greatest food and mineral producing area in the world; that all of our skyscrapers had been reared, our cities built, our industries developed, our railroads laid, our minerals opened, our standard of living established and all of the wealth existing in the United States, and, in Canada, too, produced prior to 1932. Certainly no wealth has been created since.
And, it so happens, that the 10-year period following the beginning of our New Deal was the only decade in the history of America where less wealth was produced than in the preceding 10 years-where we consumed more than we produced.
They talk as if our whole country was "without form and void, and that darkness moved upon the face of the earth", before our New Deal began the creation of its ideas of an economic Garden of Eden.
Let me remind you again, that when I say "New Deal", I do not mean the Democratic Party in my country. The New Deal is the American name for Fascism and, in fact, the most determined opponents of the New Deal in America are the old line leaders of our Southern Democratic Party.
They forget that no nations in the history of the world, 'accomplished so much industrially in so short a space of time, as in the United States and Canada and yet, none of it was done by so-called "national planning".
Our nations grew to greatness in a time where government constituted a policing agency alone and considered itself a friendly and impartial umpire in the Game of Business, realizing that every bit of employment provided and all progress made was the result of private enterprise and individual initiative.
The leaders in both of our political parties expounded the fact laid down by Thomas Jefferson, a great liberal and founder of our Democratic party, that the best government was that which governed least and that the greatest prosperity was attained through as little government in business as possible and as much business in government, as a democracy could provide.
I said to you once before and, for the benefit of those here today who were not at the May 13 meeting of The Empire Club, that every time I go into a war plant today and I see the facilities and the machinery set-up, placed at the disposition of our government, without regard to profit, paying back the profit in taxes where it's made and, many times, with serious losses, I can not help but think of those who have attempted to destroy this private enterprise and this industry, simply because it had become big, forgetting that business became big in both of our countries because it deserved to be-that there's no militant evil in bigness, in growth, in efficiency, in engineering a good product, in making it well so that everyone wants it, and that only because business became big, did we have better and better automobiles, and electric refrigerators, and heating equipment, and not at higher and higher-because they were better, but at lower and lower prices!
That's the entire history of all American and Canadian Industry-a constantly improved product and service, at a constantly reduced price. How I wish those politicians-some of those for whom we voted, but more important, the slippery ones behind the scenes for whom we did not vote-who have shown so little consideration for the small business man, have let him go out of business with no sympathy and no help--(no farmer lost his farm because of the war--no laboring man his job--but many small business men have lost their businesses) and those who have attempted to rip big business apart--would just humbly and thankfully and, with their hats in their hands, follow the example that business has set for them and give us BETTER AND BETTER GOVERNMENT AT LOWER AND LOWER COST! Wouldn't that be something? And now only, it's bigness has saved us from slavery. Where would we have been without the Du Ponts, the automobile factories, and the great steel mills?
The next time that anybody in my hearing ever again criticizes private industry because it became big and scoffs at its success, or impugns the over-all honesty, good sportsmanship, and true willingness to sacrifice of the American and Canadian Buisness Men--and part of my purpose over our countries, as I said before, is to put a ramrod up the backs of, a sparkle in the eye, and a little fight in the heart of business men who have been entirely too meek in speaking up for themselves--the next time this criticism occurs, I'm just going to ask the half-wit who propounds the question, who it was that America and Canada turned to in their hour of danger and distress!
Was it to the crack-pots, the social planners, the dreamers, the professors who would have Government take over our war plants in competition with private business, and operate with a false set of books, charging losses to the taxpayer? What it to the something-for-nothing boys? Or was it to Canadian and American factories, built and managed under our system of private enterprices!
The record of Industry is there for all to read--the providers of comfort and plenty and jobs and happiness in peace-time-and our country's salvation in war.
And yet in spite of that, the roots of our national government, under the excuse of pre-war and war-time emergencies, have sunk deep, with politicians in every speech and bill seeking new and, heretofore, untapped 'sources of revenue, with plans only for increasing taxes and increasing debt and, here again, I do not refer to necessary war-time expenses or even unavoidable wartime waste. I'm talking about wasteful, non-military expenses--the perpetration of fanciful, totalitarian, paternalistic schemes under the high-sounding name of "social reform"; plans for obtaining more money for the great national "grab-bag", with more jobs required to administer all of the agencies set up and never a word about the inevitable day when we must stop spending more than we take in-when budgets must not only be balanced, but there must be surpluses each year by which we can meet the maturity of war bonds, without creating still more government dollars.
It's very difficult today, in discussing business, to escape the accusation of making a political speech because there is no phase of business that could be analyzed that would not come into direct and immediate conflict with some phase of governmental activity.
I therefore disclaim political intention. I'm just a business man, running for no office and little interested in parties. I'm just a "voice crying aloud in the wilder ness" on behalf of Business, that has been unwilling to speak up for itself--all business, both large and small. I'm resisting the vice-like pressure of labor leaders on one hand, who are unwilling to accept equal responsibility for their acts, with Capital and Management--who say that if any laws are passed, placing the same restraints upon Labor union organizations that long since have been placed on business organizations, they will not obey those laws, thus setting up an incipient anarchy and yet, insist that if a law be passed favoring Labor, the employer live up to it to the "last pound of flesh"-the racketeering type of labor leader who, during this war, has clearly made the union more important than his country; those, on one hand, and politicians on the other, who have found that the best way to perpetuate themselves in office is to squander the nation's resources with a lavish hand, by building pipe lines from the Treasury to huge blocs of voters.
I'm not ashamed to defend "Big Business". I am proud of the big business of America and Canada and the men who developed them and the men who manage them. Your body is one body, but it's made up of countless cells. That's the way it is with Big Business. Our big industries are owned by little people by thousands upon thousands of small, common stockholders. The American Telephone & Telegraph Company, which has played such a large part in the building of America, has over 600,000 stockholders, to 200,000 employees.
Our 110 largest corporations are owned by nearly, 5,000,000 stockholders and no one individual owns more than 1 % of the total stock, with the exception of Henry Ford. Therefore, this obnoxious, greedy "Baron of Industry", that is depicted as an evil exploiter of employees and of labor, exists only in cartoons or in the minds and spouting mouths of radicals and social theorists. And then who is to say just when a business becomes "big business"? Everything in the world is relative. If you quarrel with something because it is good or just because it is big, again you come into pretty direct conflict with the Creator because the Universe is quite a place!
I was talking to the Rotary Club of New York City the other day. In the audience I saw our Mr. I. C. Penney, the head of a great chain of dry goods and clothing stores, partially own by the company, partially owned by the managers who helped to create the stores, an organization that has done an excellent job in bringing good quality,' low-priced clothing to people in lower income brackets. I asked that audience just when it was that the I. C. Penney Company became big business-at exactly what point in their experience did Mr. Penny step over an invisible line and become the object of hatred and punishment? Was it when he had his second store, his hundredth store, or his thousandth store? Just when?
When did the Ford. Motor Company become "big 'business"? Remember Mr. Ford now tinkering in a little one-room machine shop, and courageously fighting the Selden patents so that everyone could make motors. Well, was it when the Ford Company made their thousandth car, their millionth car, or their 25th millionth car, setting an example for low-cost transportation, and followed quickly and with equal skill by General Motors, and then by Chrysler? Just when did the Ford Motor Company become "big business"?
When did your great Eatons and Simpsons companies in the field of retail merchandising here in Canada become "big business"? Just at what point in their expansion? And should they have stopped back along the line and thus give employment to fewer people?
Well I will give you a new conception I think. I will tell you when these firms became "big business". They became "big business" when Mr. Penney and Mr. Ford and Mr. Eaton and Mr. Simpson were born.
You develop big men, men of capacity and vision and daring, men who are willing to risk, men who can both dream and work, then you will have big industry and a big country and a high standard of living.
If you want to destroy "big business" then quit breeding big men. You will then have little industry, but you will also have a little and defenceless country, the standard of living of a Mexican paeon, and we would be the helpless Denmarks and Polands of the world.
As I have said, the record of Big Business stands for itself, and, while it has had its selfish and evil members and occasional lapses from virtue because, after all, business men are fallible human beings, on the whole, the record it has made in the very standard of living we see about us has been good and constructive and commendable.
I do witness with grave apprehension however, the tremendously increased organization of Labor on one hand, and on the other, the increased organization of Government, even before the war, with over a million people on our government payrolls, spread out in building after building, not only at our Capitol in Washington, but clear to Baltimore, 35 miles north--those buildings housing the greatest army of paid, unemployed, in the history of the world. You may have some of the same thing!
I cannot escape the feeling that it is now about time for business, and business men who pay the bills for all of these follies; to speak up without being accused of political prejudice.
One of these follies comes under the name of "Social Security", and here I may meet with some considerable measure of disagreement.
Nothing is wrong with insurance. Nothing is wrong with laying aside enough when you are young and have earning capacity, to take care of your older age, but when you adopt principles of regimentation, you, at the same time, give up the still more important principles of individual liberty and freedom and you can not expect to do what God Himself, can not do, to keep a man from paying the penalties of his own mistakes!
At a time when the taxpayers of America are grimly buckling down to meet a staggering $36,000,000,000 national budget that has been proposed for annual postwar federal expenses, including $10,000,000,000 for an international WPA Program, $8,000,000,000 for administration and, it hasn't been long since we thought our first billion dollar Congress was extravagant, in addition to this is suggested a mountainous addition of $15,000,000,000 a year for the "Cradle-to-the-Grave Project."
The fearful thing is that this figure would be only a starter and the bureaucracy created to administer such sums and such a complicated system, means jobholders in numbers that would constitute a balance of power in a national election and who would always vote, of course, to keep themselves in an easy job. Consumers, who produce nothing!
Past experience shows the cost of such projects do not stay with the original suggestions but double and treble. I do not know what sums have been suggested for Canada, but I say to you, that this forced charge, on top of the care of our returned soldiers, hospitalization, interest on national debt, the gradual paying off of war bonds cashed, the maintaining of a larger Army and Navy, is synonymous with a revolution in America. Our taxes are now at a point where they come close to confiscation of business--and that is what many of these starry-eyed dreamers want and intend--and they have made individual incentive a dying thing.
It would siphon the live capital out of the fund of public wealth. There would be no venture--not another mine opened--not another oil well drilled--and it would set up national socialism with all of its collectivist implications. It would do as good a job of destroying America as Hitler, himself, could have done, without Hitler's brutality.
It would centralize power in the Federal Government and take it away from states and provinces and the people-sanction further deficit spending-destroy individual initiative-make accumulation of venture capital impossible-retard the financing of the so-called business and engineering visionaries of today that would become the Henry Fords of tomorrow-force all industrial research, medicine too, into government and hence into politics-establish a hybrid phenomenon which they herald as a "mixed corporation" in which joint ownership and management would be "shared" between government and the investor but which is a "stop gap" only, to 100% government ownership-destroy the family unit by discouraging thrift and savings for old age-destroy the responsibility of parents to their children and the obligation of children to their parents.
This sort of legislation is, in fact, a charter for revolution. I hope you do not contemplate it here!
If the bureaucrats and the spenders who bathe in red ink, would keep their hands off-give a blood transfusion to Business instead of draining from it until business becomes anaemic and helpless--we will have upwards of 10,000,000 upstanding young men, (your proportion in Canada would be about the same) trained to work, taught to sacrifice, disciplined for service--coming back home to rebuild the Canada and America they have fought to save. They should be Canada's and America's salvation.
True, they will want security but the good old-fashioned kind of worthwhile security-the Security of Opportunity. They certainly will not want the paternalistic type of security found in Continental Europe, based upon a despotic system, against which they are fighting on the far flung battle fields of the world. It would be the supreme tragedy of our nation's history if these young men were spoiled by a system of "Cradle-to-the-Grave" benefits, all their fine courage and high ideals slowly softened, smothered and finally extinguished, by entering into a Lazy Man's Paradise.
And there is a point. In all of our planning, in all of the speeches of our leaders who talk about Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear, and A Job for Everyone, I see no recognition of the human, common-sense condition that many people do not want a job and would not work if they had one, or, if they had one, do enough to earn the money they receive! Why is it that no one recognizes that there is a lot of sheer, unadulterated laziness and shiftlessness and that those qualities should meet their just punishment and not be supported by a government reward, for "those who toil not, neither do they spin", yet are supported in idleness.
In all of our talk about Freedom, let us be sure that we are not paying lip service to that word-that we have real Freedom--Freedom to Worship, of course -Freedom of Speech, freedom of the press and radio--Free Labor, and this means, the right of a man to join any union he chooses, to quit any union when he pleases, and to join none at all and still have the right to work and support his family.
It means free enterprise-the right of a man to dare -do-to risk-to invest, with rewards commensurate with his risks and his ability, and his industry.
Labor unions assail monopolies in business and, rightly so. It is competition we want-not monopolies; lower prices-not manipulated and controlled prices. Every intelligent man knows the greatest national prosperity comes with the highest possible wages and the lowest possible prices. That being the case, labor must also recognize that "what is sauce for the goose" is also "sauce for the gander" and that a monopoly in jobs is even more evil because people could do without any particular brand of merchandise if they felt the prices were unfair and thus rebuke the maker, but we can not do without jobs.
And, to say that a man must be a Baptist, or a Presbyterian, or a Methodist, or a Christian Scientist, or a member of the Church of England, or an Episcopalian, or a Mason, or a Knight of Columbus, or belong to the American Federation of Labor or the C.I.O., or the Epworth League-that he must belong to any organization before he can have a job and support his family is an announcement of a monopoly in one of the most precious things in a man's life-his right to work!
Labor insists upon controls, and regulations, and penalties for Business and, we accept them. Now that labor unions have, themselves, become truly "big business", they must accept the same restraints and submit to the same penalties for violation.
Please do not misunderstand me-any one arguing against the right of labor for organization and collective bargaining, to make the best possible deal for itself and to correct abuses in some industries where the management is still selfish and unenlightened, is a fool.
But equally, a man who argues that business men have no right to organize for their own interests and present them forcefully and factually to their employees and to the public, is unfair.
The man who does not accord to the great rank and file of labor, the respect and dignity they have earned, merely discloses his own stupidity.
I'm not talking about laboring men, or, Labor's right to protect itself. I am talking about labor agitators who feed and fatten and thrive on the deliberate creation of discord and discontent and strife--who live only by provoking disputes, where no reason for dispute exists--and their chief "high priest", Mr. John L. Lewis, who denied coal to our steel mills because portal-to-portal pay was more important than the lives of our sons.
Of course, we hear so much propaganda about man's "God given right to strike", and so little these days about his "right to work". I can not help but look back upon those tragic years of depression when men sought work to no avail-when long lines formed in front of every industrial establishment-when, to provide jobs was the curt demand of our Administration on every business man and firm-a demand that every business tried to meet, not out of profits because there were nothing but losses in those days, but out of accumulated surpluses that wasteful governments would now take away in taxation so that we never again could live through another depression or be kind and merciful in the retention of our employees; when the unasked question in the anxious eyes of thousands of wives when their husbands came home at night was, "Did you get the job?"
Therefore, it seems to me, to be no more than fitting that some business speaker should have the courage to talk about an even greater right than the right to strike and, that is-Man's truly God-given right to work!
And there we are. We see business, and business men, caught between the upper and the nether millstone-between Government on the top, seeking to perpetuate a bunch of wild-eyed spenders and replenish its treasury, by constantly increasing raids on the pockets of business men who are expected to meet their own losses, when losses come-and the nether millstone of Labor minorities who deal neither in truth or in fairness, under the leadership of Communistic-minded agitators, and out and out racketeers, seeking personal power, making trouble to prove that their services are needed to settle the trouble--exacting from the same business, oppressed from above by Government, a tribute of shorter hours and higher wages that might not be allowed or paid and, still keep the retail price of merchandise down to a point where it will sell to the consumer and thus, in turn, provide continuous employment for labor, and things for our needs--Business ground between two stones!
It may be that in their own protection, business men may, themselves, one day form a union of all those who have money invested in trade--not to attack--merely to defend.
Since you pay, you have a right to represent yourselves. You have a right to insist upon a return to economy and common sense and sanity in government.
Our prosperity, of course, is like a three-legged stool--one leg, Agriculture; one leg, Labor; one leg, Business. All three should be strong--fair prices for Agriculture, the highest possible wage rates for Labor but without job monopolies but, equally important, a reasonable incentive for Business and a return for its labor and its investment.
Let us correct these so-called economists who deal in fantastic billions and to whom money merely means a printing press and paper. They follow the pattern, always, of spending-of providing jobs to administer their spending-of doing it under sweet sounding names and mottoes--but they forget, when they spend money, they are spending the equivalent of labor, and sweat, and production, and that when you take from the productive man that which he earns and creates, and arbitrarily give to the man who will not produce, isn't high-minded liberalism. It isn't creating a "more abundant life" but it will create a nation of loafers who feel that their government and the world owes them a living, under a mistaken application of the "Freedom from Want" theory and it is, in fact, just plain, ordinary theft, legally perpetrated.
The business man pays for it. You pay for it, not only out of all you earn in the future, but in a slow consumption of everything you have accumulated in the past and one of these days, you may even refuse to pay for it any longer. These fellows do not seem to understand that wealth is only in production-in things grown and made for our happiness and comfort and health-not in an arbitrary division of money, with money, itself, carrying a fluctuating value at whim of an executive individual, and money cheapened by creating more debt and printing more of it.
I was in Washington a short time ago and took my new daughter-in-law to visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. She clutched my arm and gave an ecstatic squeal, as she saw an endless stream of $1 bills--$10 bills--$100 bills--coming of the presses. It is a wonderful feeling. The magic of it takes you in its grip.
As I watched it, I thought, "This sweet young girl thinks that money is wealth. Can she eat it? Can she sleep in it? Can she ride in it? Can it bring her the news of the world or, by swallowing some of it, can she cure a disease? It's still paper. It's good only for what it represents."
Samuel Pettingill, a lifetime Democrat in the States, asks, "Can the Government print a cow? Can the Government print a steak? Can the Government print a quart of milk or a loaf of bread or a ton of coal or a house to live in?"
No, you can't eat money, but you can't escape from the obligation it imposes upon us when you print it, and when you create debt and spend more money than you take in, the result is a deficit and-more printing.
What would you think of a parent who contracted a personal debt and then said to his creditors, "You can collect payment on that from the sweat of my children. I just create the debt and must hurry now to create more, but I, myself, am not going to do any worrying!"
"After all, we're all members of the human race--we're all Canadians or Americans and we just owe it to ourselves."
What's the difference between that, and the things we have been doing for the past ten years? We've been piling debt upon debt and propose to add more to it. We've been recklessly brushing aside the judgment Day--the inevitable day of payment, with the self-conscious thought that some day these magical printing presses would get us out of trouble!
We've been building up to a catastrophe and unless we face it soon, reverse our direction and spend less than we take in-spend only for the most necessary government functions--this catastrophe will be liquidated only by the sweat and sorrow and accusation of our children and grandchildren.
A man who wastes his father's inheritance-a drone who lives on the honey of the worker bee-a man who does not pull his own weight in the boat-those who vote us into earning their living for them-or a nation which charges a fictitious prosperity "on the cuff" are all of the same class.
We have no right to ask unborn generations to pay bills for things we use up now, and whenever a man consumes without, in some way, creating an equal value, he is a parasite and, if greatly multiplied, would completely eat up the national wealth we have spent so many hard years in accumulating.
For ten years now, we have heard it said that the Government can create purchasing power by borrowing against the future. Well, so you can--for a short time. You can borrow from your bank and have a great splurge on the money f or as long as it lasts and, as long as people feel pretty sure that their neighbors will sell them a cow in return for these pieces of green paper rolling off the press, but, if they begin to suspect that the presses are running overtime in an effort to overtake the debt, the paper will not purchase a cow and we'll find out for sure then, that the Government can't print, either the cow, or the milk she produces.
We can not have a free democracy unless the possessor of money can exchange it for anything whatever that suits his fancy. The free exchange of money, for any commodity, is the heart of a free system but when you create fictitious wealth which has no backing in production and is only a mortgage upon the future, then you bankrupt your country and dictators are always the receivers of bankrupt governments."
And so ends the comment of Congressman Pettingill, one of our leading Democrats. I told you parties were split down the middle.
What is my conclusion after these, up to now, pure observations? It is simple. Let us say to Labor--"We admire you. We respect you. We wish you well and will pay you high, but remember, you are only one of the three legs of our Stool."
We say to the Farmer--"You feed us and without you we would starve. You are entitled to low cost distribution-to the best of markets-and to a standard of living equal to that of anyone."
For Business--"Full speed ahead! Invent! Engineer! Develop! Grow! Expand! Give us more and better goods at lower prices"
One psychological phase of business that worries me is that just before the war, I was beginning to hear so frequently one sentense, "Well, Carney, there isn't any fun in business any longer."
There isn't any fun in business! This is the discouraged cry of a business man who reaches a point where he realizes there is no longer any incentive for improvement, for development, for expansion, or investment of capital -no triumph to be derived from successful and intelligently managed enterprises, and no reward for effort, worry, and the risk and investment of capital, and certainly no protection against losses when losses come.
Let me tell you when you take the "fun out of business", the keen edge of rivalry in competition, the happiness and satisfaction that a business man derives from a successful creative enterprise, and by waste and spending and taxation, you suck from that business virtually all the business can produce, you have then destroyed that living breath, stopped its beating heart-extinguished the very flame and force of life and trade itself.
The politician and labor agitator impugn the motives and honesty of the business man!
When it comes to honor, I would rather trust to the intelligence and fairness, generosity and unselfishness of the business man and his ability to deal fairly with his employees, than I would to any of these modern crackpot politicians who, while calling the business man hard names, demand the business man's cash.
Our Harry Hopkins for instance! What an example! What did he ever create? He has never raised a crop or made a product or produced anything that anyone else could consume. He came out of a Social Settlement licking stamps on envelopes. He has never risked or invested. What do the other fellow's earnings and savings mean to him? Mr. Hopkins has fuzzy ideas about redistributing the wealth of the nation. He doesn't care whether an unemployed man wants or can obtain a job or not. Hopkins still wants the government to support him. Evidently Mr. Hopkins does not hold with St. Paul, who wrote in his second letter to the Thessalonians, "If any would not work, neither should he eat."
Mr. Hopkins thinks it would be cruel to compel the jobless to take work that might not just exactly suit the man on relief. St. Paul was of sterner material. He added these pointed words, and I think he must have been looking down through the centuries to the day in which we live--"For we hear that there are some which walk among you, disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such, we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."
We can solve our postwar problems and provide jobs for those who return and continue the progress of the past century in only one possible way--by hard work, reward for enterprise, respect and applause for those who succeed, and common sense. That's uninteresting. That's unromantic. It's hard, if not impossible, to get elected to office on that kind of a program, but it's the only road and all of the other roads you have seen so luridly advertised by the crack-pots of the day, and that the experimenters have bid us trod--those that plow under crops and kill little pigs and calves so as to bring about artificial food shortages--those who believed that wealth was money and money was wealth--are just detours and if you follow them, you will surely lose the democracy and the liberty our sons have fought to defend.
I hold in my hand a book. It is the established guide for human living. It forms the basis for all law and human conduct. It is a business book to which business men all too seldom turn for business counsel.
I read just a line of the 19th verse of the third chapter of Genesis-one line that puts to utter rout all of the crack-pots and the social security soothsayers and the exponents of the folded hand, who would have you believe that man can live without contributing, himself, toward the support of that life.
LISTEN! I wish those in our own Government, who created our debt and, while warning us that war was coming, failed to prepare for war, and those who have been more interested in social reform and socialism, than in winning the war during this conflict, would listen, because in none of their philosophizing and in no fireside talk, does it seem they have heard of this one great law I read to you!
"By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread until thou return to the ground"!
It doesn't say by the sweat of somebody else's brow, or by the sweat of the taxpayer's brow. It doesn't even say, "By the sweat of your own brow until you're 60 years of age". It just says, "By the sweat of thy brow until you return unto the ground"!
That's law! That's Nature's law! That's God's law! It's immutable! And what makes anyone think they can change it?
You are far safer to adherence to that, perhaps stern law of Nature and of God, than in the idea that has been so widely broadcast and achieved millions of supporters, that no matter how much. a man may have drunk up and gambled away the proceeds of his earning years; no matter how lazy and shiftless and incompetent and unproductive he may have been; no matter how unwilling, as a young man, to study and fit himself toward the end of a successful business or professional career, that when he is 60 or 65 years of age a great national Santa Claus, out of an enormous grab bag filled with the earnings of those who have sacrificed and labored and saved, will give their sustenance to the man who has wasted his opportunities. We are far safer in that law of work than the heresy that is being preached today to younger minds-to work as little as possible, do it as poorly and, at the same time, black-jack the employer for all that can be obtained, with no regard for the permanent life and success of the business-the false preachment that those who have succeeded and have obtained an honoured place in the community have done so at the expense of the failure-and to enforce demands by mob organization, by sit-down strikes and by riot and murder-all of which is contrary to the sterling virtues of industry that we learned at our mother's knee and from our fathers in the woodshed and, the application of which formed the basis for growth and development of our two countries.
You can not substitute nostrums for common sense. You can not support the lazy portion of humanity at the expense of those who are willing to work. You cannot give the incapable and the unproductive equal rewards, with those of ability and industry. You can not take the life blood out of business until it throws up its hands in surrender, loses its incentive, and says, "There isn't any fun in it any longer!"
You can not let men like our John Lewis intimidate and brow-beat their way to a result which, if fair and just, could be obtained by orderly processes, pass one-sided laws that bind and gag the employer and give Labor, only, the right to speak and then administer that law, unfairly and with prejudice. You can not permit the devastating effect of doing everything for people-Government supporting people, instead of people supporting Government, thus robbing them of their character, their mental and moral fibre developed through the overcoming of obstacles and difficulties and through occasional defeat; nor under the great misnomer of being liberalists, can we substitute fanciful ideas and deny, in the financial conduct of our government, every principle of sound business. You can not do these things, gentlemen, and retain the national vigor that made our countries great.
If Labor is to be organized under intelligent and reasonable leadership, with responsibilities and penalties equal to their privileges and amenable to the same laws that govern employer and capital--well and good. Fair minded men will applaud it.
But if we are asked to substitute socialism for enterprise, equal rewards for unequal abilities and production; if the government is to place millions of people on its payrolls to guide and direct our every movement; to snoop into our affairs and to "pick the grapes when they turn purple", forgetting the years when no grapes grow; if we are to face organized attack upon the pocketbooks of Business, by those who are jealous because they have never been able to fill their own, then let business men, themselves, get up "on their hind legs", with a roar that will shake this country-organize a business man's union, if need be, and say to the many spenders and wasters, "Thus far have you gone toward bankruptcy of this nation and destruction of our form of government--no further shalt thou go!"
I'm not concerned in this selfishly, gentlemen, because most of us will be in our graves when the full effect of the reaping of the seed that has been sown, will bring about its crop and our grandchildren will be damning our cowardice and our stupidity.
But I would say we should elect some business men congressmen and business men senators in my country, and in Canada, some business men to Parliament and for once in our lives, perhaps a business man Premier or President, one who understands the worries, and problems, and the cares of business that provides all jobs for labor and markets for the farmer-who has made a dollar and consequently knows and understands its value, and I don't care to what party he belongs-so that we can at least check the forces of waste, the debauchery of those who have been taught they need never work, and the ideas that will play such havoc with our children.
It's our country and not my firm's profit and loss sheet that I think about today, and I echo, with a fervent "Amen", the utterance of a famous statesman of another day, "Who saves his country, saves all things and all things saved do bless him, but he who lets his country die, lets all things die and all things dying curse him!"
And so, while others may sing to you a siren song and extol the delights and benefits of leisure, let me recommend that greatest of forces, outside of religion, in all civilization that speaks of itself in these words
"I am the foundation of all prosperity. I am the fount from which all blessings flow. Everything that is of value in this world springs from me. I am the salt that gives life its savor. "I am the sole support of the poor, and the rich who think they can do without me, live futile lives and fill premature graves. "I have made America and Canada. I have built their matchless industries, laid their incomparable railroads, opened their minerals, reared their skyscrapers, created their cities, and established a standard of living the envy of every country in the world, and has made of us, the hope and the lodestone of every immigrant that has set foot upon our shores. "I am the friend of every worthy youth. If he makes my acquaintance when he is young and keeps me by his side throughout his life, I can do more for him than the richest parent. "I keep the bodies clean and fit, minds alert and when I am neglected, both minds and bodies grow fat and sluggish. "I am the parent even of Genius, itself. "I am represented in every paper that flies from the press, in every loaf that springs from the oven, in every train that crosses the continent, and in every ship that steams the ocean. "Fools hate me, wise men love me. The man who keeps his hand in mine throughout his life, never dies -because that which he has created with my help lives on after he is gone. The man who shirks me and scorns my aid and looks on me as something to abhor, never lives-never really lives, even though he may continue to breathe. "Who am I? What am I? I AM WORK!"
Lose this day loitering--'twill be the same story tomorrow-and the next more dilatory. Then indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over days that have been lost.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute! What you can do or dream you can, begin it-Work has genius, power and magic in it.
I am honored by your invitation today. I'm flattered by your attention. I make no claim to profundity but I do hope that the forces of common sense in our countries may be given a voice, that business men may become organized themselves, in their thinking, and determined and resolute in their action so that we may ensure to our children and our children's children, the same glorious freedom and the opportunity that we have, ourselves, enjoyed.