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Holding the shopworn whip of next year's election over President Roosevelt's head, the National Association of Manufacturers shows a startling candour in advocating that the reform measures of the New Deal be put on the shelf once and for all. If the people of the country show a reluctance to take this royal road back to normalcy, the indictment of mulishness should not be made too loudly against them.
Even for a body so admittedly Bourbon as the Association of Manufacturers such an attitude is surprising. Through the dreariest days of the past winter, with the castles of Rooseveltism crashing down about our ears, the voices against the social reform side of the President's program have been distinctly gentle. Although the Roosevelt honeymoon may be coming to an end, the President's program for social security has met with cheering sympathy on all sides.
Painting a seductive picture of what would happen if only the measures for unemployment insurance, utility holding companies, and that particular bone of contention, the Wagner labor-disputes bill, were allowed to drop by the wayside, the Association of Manufacturers has summoned up a luxurious array of statistics. Billens are oast about like rios at a wedding. The trump card is twenty billion dollars, which we are told, would be thrown into factory expension at the drop of a hat. The hat is the Roosevelt social reform program. But if Frank Lloyd Wright is to be believed when he says that there is nothing so timid as a million dollars, the reticence of twenty billion hardly needs description!
Putting its tongue in its cheek, the same tongue it used to stick out at General Johnson, the Association of Manufacturers suggests that the reform program need be shelved only temporarily. However, it is not difficult to foresee that once reform is dropped, and prosperity returns the program will be entirely forgotten until the next economic collapse. Social legislation is a poor relation which has long been whining at the door of the United States. Following the lead of the more progressive of the European nations, the country might as well admit it into the family circle.
Even if the back of Old Man Depression can be broken at last by a signal from Congress, as the statement of the manufacturers declares, it seems hardly likely that such a signal will be given. It is possible that the roseate hopes of the Association of Manufacturers would be realized, with a new flurry of prosperity following the castration of the social security program. If there is any virtue in lessons of the past, it does not seem worth the price.
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