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If the kindling wood in the fire place in the Lowell House Common Room had been put to a match last evening when Mr. Lewis Douglas talked to the Council of Government Concentrators on recent developments in the national economy, a new meaning might have been developed for the term "fireside chat". For a meeting of minds of a high intellectual caliber on a field of common interest, where ideas are exchanged freely and no one attempts to play ringleader or bully recalcitrant thinkers into jumping through the hoops of his own individual dogma, is a refreshing change from the drama the nation has been witnessing in Washington. The Council of Government Concentrators has inaugurated a mode of informal debate peculiarly fitted to the Harvard--and the democratic --ideal of freedom of discussion.
What particularly caught the eye in Mr. Douglas's remarks was his effort to interpret the past month's developments on the financial, labor, and judicial fronts in the light of the beginnings of a serious monetary inflation. In view of the measures which the Administration has taken to promote a rise in prices, there can be little doubt that a process of inflation of a mild degree is underway. But with Governor Eccles talking about a balanced budget--a political impossibility--and clinging to rock-bottom interest rates, it will take more than mere "monetary monkey business" to stem the flood when it threatens to overflow its appointed bounds.
Whether the Government, or for that matter any government, possesses the power to control such forces once they are set loose is open to the gravest doubts. History certainly shows cases where governmental power, even to the extent of life and death, has failed to check runaway inflation. But whether or not the United States is standing on the brink of a precipice, any control, except for direct monetary efforts, "must mean a personal government of relatively unrestrained power". Backed by the dictation of closely knit labor armies and freed from restraint by a judiciary stripped of its independence, the office of President might be an enviable one in a few years --and one where angels would fear to sit.
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