AMERICA FACES THE FUTURE, Edited by Charles A. Beard. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1932. $3.
WHEN the times are out of joint, it is evident that something is wrong with the structure of our present social and economic system. A situation in which millions of willing workers are without employment and destitute of the necessities of life, while close by farms and factories, throttled by over-production, are unable to dispose of surplus goods to those who are vitally in need of them, directly challenges America's economic organization.
Awareness of the necessity of planning for the future is emphasized by the fact that similar crises are liable to reoccur with rhythmic regularity. Modern civilization is founded on technology, which is essentially planned and scientific. A blue-print plan for the future would, then, bring our economic system into harmony with the technical efficiency which created it. No rule of thumb procedure is sufficient to bring the world back to a smoother running order.
Charles A. Beard in the editorship of "America Faces the Future," presents the efforts of prominent leaders in social and economic thought to grapple with the problem of organizing for the future. Many of the articles are recent magazine publications such as Mr. Beard's "Five-Year Plan for America" and "The Responsibility of Bankers" by James Truslow Adams. The "Actualities of Agricultural Planning," by Franklin D. Roosevelt, sets forth an enlightened reforestation program coupled with the creation of rural-industrial communities, which would not only bring the worker out of the crowded cities, but also afford a ready market to the farmer. Among the other writers included by the editor are Andre Maurois, Philip LaFollette, and Nicholas Murray Butler.
"America Faces the Future" is a book well-suited to the times. Each of its many chapters is characterized by constructive measures applicable to the present economic situation. Mr. Beard's skill in selecting a great diversity of opinion, which is all apparently sound and concrete, enables one to form his own conclusions. The recent failure of the Soviet Plan, however, tends to throw a shade of doubt on the feasibility of any large-scale planning.