Direct control of the American retail market by means of rationing and price cellings will have to be maintained during the re-conversion period, Seymour E. Harris '20, assistant professor of Economics told 50 people Wednesday night in Lowell House Junior Common Room. The forum was the second in a series on "The Transition to Peace," sponsored by the Harvard Liberal Union.
Answering a question from the floor, Professor Harris stressed the dangers named several weeks ago by Professor Hansen at a similar forum. In addition, he proposed solutions for several problems that will face the American economy after the war.
Rather than an immediate return of government owned production facilities to private owners, the government should take care that the economy is gradually returned to normaley and the bogey of over-production and the ensuing unemployment avoided, Harris said.
When terminating war contracts, he added, the government might find it profitable in the long run to purchase unneeded war material or cancel contracts only in part so as to prevent an immediate slump in the national economy.
Professor Harris, who is currently connected with the administration of government economic policies and is giving Economics 86b ("The Economics of Social Security") here this term, advocated a full social security program after the war. The inevitable goal of the plan would be a 12% payroll tax to be distributed for old age, sick and death benefits throughout the country.
The central argument Professor Harris invoked in support of such a program was that it would stimulate buying and cut down individual saving, thus helping to keep the "mature economy" on an even keel.
Professor Harris is the author of several books in the field of economics, the most recent being "The Economics of America at War."