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enough about the business, about the running of it, to even realize that something I might do might have serious consequences and lead to the destruction of the entire structure.
I am concerned with doing a job. And when I have opposition, someone questions what I have done, I am likely to resent the questioning of my attitude. I am likely to feel that, being a representative of the Government, I not only have the power, but that some mysterious alchemy has endowed me with powers which I did not have as a private citizen.
If we really want production, we can do nothing better than to encourage private enterprise to continue. You will find businessinen almost without exception, as you will find any other group of human beings, ready to give their bit and do their bit for their country. They are not willing, not because they have money involved, but because they are American citizens, they are not willing to see all property socialized without limitation, as is provided in this measure, under the ostensible purpose of providing for the defense of our country. The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE H. CLESS, JR., GLENS FALLS, N. Y. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Cless, give the reporter your name, your residence, what organization you are connected with, and in what capacity you represent them.
Mr. CLESS. Mr. Chairman, my name is George H. Cless, Jr., of Glens Falls, N. Y. I am speaking only for myself. I do not represent any organization or group of
Before, and for many years since my 2 years in foreign-war service, I have been engaged in industry and in commercial organization work, all of which I gave up several years ago to devote my whole time to various phases of economic research, writing, and speaking
So, through the courtesy of your distinguished chairman, I appear here only as an American citizen--a representative, average American citizen who, like the rest of my kind, is profoundly prejudiced against any and all processes, policies, proposals, and programs which would bypass Congress-double-cross the American people-bankrupt our national economy—and establish a communisiic totalitarian dictatorship here.
This bill, I believe, is part and parcel of such a policy and program.
The title of this bill, S. 1579, has been amended to read: A bill to authorize the President of the United States to requisition certain property for the purpose of equpping the armed forces of the United States.
That sounds harmless enough. In fact, it sounds like something worthy of hearty endorsement. Certainly, there is something noble and uplifting in the thought of equipping the armed forces of the United States. It is truly a great event if that thought has at last taken form in the leading minds of our Government.
It is high time, too. When we can count on the fingers of one hand all the army divisions that can be completely and modernly equipped, there is something wrong somewhere. When we put American boys to sea in submarines that are so antiquated, decrepit,
and moth-eaten that they immediately crumple, go to the bottom of the sea and stay there—there must be some colossal and criminal stupidity somewhere.
It is said that such is the fortune of war. It is not so. It is the fortune of folly and stupdity. It is the result of a criminal policy of sabotaging our own national defense by denying equipment to our own unarmed forces, and sending it all to somebody else far across the seas.
The title to this bill is misleading and deceptive, because right in the bill it is specifically stated that the President is authorized "to requisition and take over for the use of the United States or in its interest”—and it has been made perfectly clear to us by the administration that "in its interest” can cover a lot of territory, and include the armed forces of other nations from China to communistic Russia.
It is also specifically stated in the bill that the President is authorized to use on such terms as he shall deem satisfactory, or to sell or to otherwise dispose of any materials so requisitioned or taken over.'
The words of the title mean nothing when related to the text of this bill. The bill itself throws the door wide open for our whole national productive plant to be operated for the benefit of any nation from China to Russia that the President may choose, and for a complete “take-over” by Government of our whole national productive plant, thus dealing a death blow to our free American system of production.
Just the other day at his press conference, Mr. Knudsen is reported to have revealed the contents of a letter to him from the President urging that defense arsenals short of machine tools take them from factories making civilian consumption of goods; and he specifically suggested that Mr. Knudsen transfer machine tools from automobile and refrigerator plants if the defense arsenals were deficient and no new machines could be obtained.
This means that the Jones plant, manufacturing comfort goods, must turn its machines over to the Smith plant, manufacturing war materials.
The result is that Jones can no longer run his plant. He shuts his doors, throws his men out of employment, and manufactures no more of the comfort goods that we buy for our use and enjoyment.
This will happen to possibly thousands of industrial plants in the country, with the inevitable result that our people will be required to get along with an increasingly drastic reduction in the quality and quantity of food, clothing, shelter, and all the comfort goods that add to the material and physical well-being of men, women, and their children.
Now, let me use just a little different type of illustration. It is highly probable that the production of pleasure cars will be drastically reduced soon. Consequently, we will be driving fewer and fewer cars.
Then what will happen? Service stations will go out of business; garages will go out of business; automobile accessory stores will be forced to shut up shop. The hundreds of thousands of people employed in these concerns will no longer be able to buy from other retail establishments.
The vicious circle goes on and on-until what happens ? Gentlemen, we are headed for chaos in this country—and in the not far distant future. That is what our so-called defense program is doing to us now.
And all this economic tragedy for no other reason than that a small minority have doped and drugged us with a lot of abstract ideological palaver about a foreign way of life on foreign continents.
Can't we realize that there is a way of life here which includes food, shelter, clothing and those other goods which add to the comfort, enjoyment, and material well-being of the families here in the United States?
In talking of this bill now before this committee, it is as foolish to discuss it apart from the program of which it is a part as it would be to discuss a chapter in a book apart from the whole theme that runs through the entire book.
A chapter in a book may alone seem wholly innocuous, but take on an entirely different aspect when related to the whole substance of the book. A bill, per se, may superficially appear to be only an easy step toward a noble end, but again take on a very different aspect when related to the whole program of which it is an integral part.
If I were going to set up a communistic totalitarian distatorship in this country, I wouldn't announce from the house tops that such was my plan. The American people wouldn't stand for it; they would rise in a revolt that would shake the whole Western Hemisphere.
I, too, would do it by easy steps under the impact of emergency hysteria and in the holy name of national defense. A war—a real or imagined threat of war-or an emergency of some kind is essential to the successful establishment of a dictatorship.
In 1933 when Hitler had the Reichstag enact his dictator law, it was done under the condition of an emergency and in the name of national defense. In the spring of 1939 when the French Parliament enacted the dictator law of Daladier, it was done under the condition of an emergency and in the name of national defense.
Ever since March of 1933 we have been living in a state of some kind of emergency under which the Congress has been most liberal in complying with the requests for more and more legislation putting more and more and more power in the hands of one man.
Then in the fall of 1939 war broke out in Europe. In the spring of 1940 that war spread in area and intensity; and that situation then presented the opportunity of stressing the threat of war to us here at home.
In other words, to a continuing emergency was then added the threat of war, resulting in unprecedented peacetime legislation in the name of national defense.
I don't for one moment minimize the seriousness of the wars and revolutions now ranging in Europe, Africa, and Asia; but the charge of many of our elder statesmen and intellectuals that it is our war is false and unwarranted; and their policy is based on the assumption that in the name of national defense we must defend those who claim to be defending us—but can't defend themselves can be rated as nothing more than fantastic nonsense.
Under the hysteria of an emergency and in the holy name of national defense, the youth of America have been subjected to military conscription; and a sizable hunk of our Navy was given away with
out the knowledge, consent, or approval of the Congress or the people.
Constantly terrified by belligerent speeches not hostile incidents, we have been carried along step by step under constantly increasing Presidential powers toward active participation in a foreign war that is not ours, and toward a dictatorial control of the Nation, that we do not want or need.
Then came the lend-lease national bankrupting act of 1941 and its initial $7,000,000,000 appropriation.
Do you realize what $7,000,000,000, plus the fact that we are giving it away to other nations, means! It means that we are giving away the equivalent of the total combined value of all the land, buildings, and equipment of all the churches and all the universities in the whole United States.
No other nation on the face of the earth would even consider for one moment or for any purpose such a monumental piece of stupendous stupidity under which they would strip themselves of all national-defense equipment—on hand and on order—as has been done by this country under the unprecedented powers given to one man by the enactment of that law.
It is simply appalling to see how the design of one-man control in this country has been developing, and to recognize the demoralizing realities and implications in the program as it unfolds before our eyes.
Instead of promoting the free and ever-increasing production of more and better goods for the use, comfort, and physical well-being of our own people, our political leadership adopted the debilitating and devitalizing program of relief.
Individuals and families have been put on relief.
Now—all of American industry is being put on relief. The word now used is defense—but it is the same old idea of relief magnified a billion fold. American industry, now on relief, has thus been maneuvered into a position so vulnerable that the complete and final take-over will be a simple matter under this bill, S. 1579. But that is not the end of our relief program.
The British Empire has been put on our relief roll; and all the world has been told that any and all nations which will get into this fight on the side of Britain will participate in the benefits to be given to all those on our internaional relief roll.
This policy has taken us along strange and weird trails. It has shown us things more grotesque than anything little Alice ever saw in Wonderland.
· Don't you remember the passing of the hat and the knitting of sweaters in a great emotional upsurge in behalf of Finland in her brave fight against the brutal, ruthless tyranny and aggression of bloody Joe Stalin? You probably recall those exact words and terms.
Without doubt you remember the bill passed by Congress authorizthe Export-Import Bank to pass $20,000,000 over to Finland in addition to the $10,000,000 credited her in the preceding December of 1939 to encourage her in her fight against the terrors of communistic Russia.
Now what has happened? Finland has joined up with Germany in their war on Russia. Risto Ryti, president of the late-beloved Republic of Finland, has bestowed upon Marshal Goering, of Germany, Finland's highest decoration—the Grand Cross of the Finnish White Rose with chain.
And Churchill, doing the most spectacular overnight somersault in the whole world history of international diplomatic circuses, turns his back on his democratic ally, Finland, and extends his hand of friendship to dictator Joe Stalin.
To cap this incongruous climax, all we need to do now is to be honest and write a new definition of democracy in these words: Any nation, regardless of its form of government, that aids Great Britain in protecting and extending her world empire.
Churchill suggests that it would be nice for us to take on Joe. So just about a week or so after Congress passed the bill authorizing the postponement of payment of amounts payable to the United States by the Republic of Finland, it is officially announced that Joe Stalin has been put on our international relief roll, and has become the ally of Britain and the United States in their crusade to enthrone Christian freedom everywhere.
Can it be that the United States has been committed to underwrite the survival of the anti-Christ-communism?
If that is what we are out to do, then I believe that it would be wholly fitting for the Congress to pass this bill which, putting, as it does, the operation of our whole national productive plant in the hands of one man, will probably be the cornerstone in the vast foundation, already laid, of a totalitarian communistic nation.
But I also believe something else. If there is any one single cause to account for the material progress of the human race, it will be found in science and invention.
Science and invention have given us more and better tools of production. The country's total physical assets used as tools of production amount in value to approximately $188,000,000,000 of which $80,000,000,000 represents the value of those accumulated physical assets in the form of industrial and commercial property used as tools of production.
These tools of production have enabled us to better utilize our national resources with a resultant increase in the quantity, quality, and variety of food, clothing, shelter, and all other comfort goods. Our total national physical assets today used for comfort amount in value to approximately $222,000,000,000.
We have accomplished this much. This result of the operation of our national economy over the years is something not to be sneezed at.
Are we going to destroy it all—are we going to sacrifice it all on the altar of international political humbuggery?
All the political power that can be created and concentrated in one man cannot drive the material well-being of our people to a level low enough to make possible the production of enough war materials to shoot freedom into all the world.
However bad much of the world may be, American planes, ships, guns, and even an expeditionary force won't make it good again. It can't be done, no matter how many of us may have to die in the attempt, how little we may have to eat, how few comfort goods