« PreviousContinue »
REQUISITION OF PROPERTY BY THE UNITED STATES
TUESDAY, JULY 1, 1941
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee convened at 11 a. m., Senator Robert R. Reynolds, chairman of the committee, presiding:
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. Mrs. Curtis, I feel very apologetic that there are not more members of this committee present this morning. The lack of Senators here is due to the fact that this committee has a subcommittee that is studying important minerals in relation to national defense, and the members of the Military Affairs Committee who are in the city at the present time are in attendance on that subcommittee.
I might state in addition to that that a great number of the members of this committee are out of the city on official business.
We are very happy indeed to have you here. We have convened this morning for the purpose of providing you with an opportunity to make a statement in reference to this bill which we have under consideration at the present time, in view of the fact that you hold a very important position as head of one of the largest patriotic organizations in America.
In relation to Mr. Shakespeare, concerning whom you talked to me, I might add that I had a telegram from him this morning advising that unfortunately it would be impossible for him to attend in view of the fact that he was unavoidably delayed in Detroit, Mich., where he is interested in some defense matters. On receiving his telegram I advised him that you were appearing this morning, in view of the understanding that he was to appear with you at this time; and I wired him to the effect that if he would prepare a statement of his position and would mail it here to Colonel Watts, secretary of the committee, by air mail, we would be very glad to have it printed as a part of the record.
Now, if you will be good enough to provide the official reporter with your name, business address, the name of your organization, and your official capacity, we will be glad to have your statement. STATEMENT OF MRS. CATHRINE CURTIS, NEW YORK CITY,
REPRESENTING WOMEN INVESTORS IN AMERICA, INC. Mrs. CURTIS. Thank you very much, Senator Reynolds.
I realize how very busy you and the other members of the committee are at this particular time. I appreciate the opportunity to come before you.
I do know that Mr. Monroe Shakespeare tried to get here this morning; but when his official business was concluded he was unable to get plane transportation to fly in.
Mr. Tiffany, of the Small Businessmen's Association, talked with me in New York on the phone last night. At that time he intended to be here. But apparently he was unable to make it.
Mr. Chairman, members of the Military Affairs Committee, I am speaking to you today in protest of S. 1579, often referred to as the "property seizure bill."
I am here representing Women Investors in America, Inc., which is an educational non-profit-making membership organization of women formed in 1935 for the primary purpose of bringing financial education to women, defending and protecting women's property rights, and the capitalistic system, of which these rights are a basic and integral part. We do not give investment counsel.
I also represent the Women's National Committee to Keep U. S. Out of War, which is a revival of the Women's Committee for Hands Off the Supreme Court, formed in 1937, through which millions of women throughout the country voiced their views in opposition to that important issue then before the American people.
I also speak for a number of mothers' and women's groups whose antiwar and pro-United States activities are coordinated under our direction.
All of these organizations wish to see preserved our constitutional form of government and the Republic which created it.
All of these organizations and the millions of women in this membership are definitely opposed to foreign-war involvement, as evidenced by the recent direct-mail poll taken by us 2 months ago, which showed 94.9 percent of the people opposed to this country entering the foreign war.
Partly because of the high-pressure propaganda campaign for war involvement, partly because of the urgency of our national defense, and also because of our own problems of living, we seem to have forgotten that this country and its people have prospered because of our system of individual initiative, private property ownership, and management, all of which combined have given us the greatest industrial economy in the world.
Our national program has always been one of wealth-producing endeavor. We differ from Old World nations whose economy is based on military activity and operations; that is, a military economy devoted to wealth-destroying activity.
The bill before this committee has allegedly been introduced in the interest of national defense. But women know that the cornerstone of a national-defense program of any country is the morale of its people, their confidence in its government, and their love of their own country. No defense program can be successful without these vital essentials.
For the last several months much of my time has been spent traveling in various parts of the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts. I have talked to men and women in all walks of life. The morale of our people is not what it should be; neither is their confidence in the Government. Their love of country-well, that love is there in millions of hearts; but what a sinister program is
being advanced to kill it and implant instead another love and interest for another country.
I found countless people who are alert to this far-flung program of alien direction, domination, and control of our national economy, and even of our Government; people who resent this Union Now program and its world government, its new flag, and its international program of world politics put forward to supplant Old Glory and our constitutional Republic.
All of these organizations of women whom I represent have been opposed to every step which Congress has taken to lead us closer and closer to open warfare. These steps include among others the lifting of the embargo, the compulsory Draft Act, and the lend-lease bill. Each piece of legislation has taken from us vital constitutional rights; and now with S. 1579 it appears to us that this committee and Congress is on the verge of making it possible to completely socialize this Government and our people.
I believe this committee has a grave responsibility in the recommendations which it makes to the Senate, for this bill provides the machinery to make possible the complete destruction of all we hold dear.
I have listened to much of the testimony given before this committee by proponents of the bill, but it did not seem to be convincing as to the need for this measure.
We disapprove of this bill for the following reasons:
1. It is not essential to our national-defense program and is not a national-defense bill.
2. It takes from our people the basic and constitutional rights of private property ownership.
3. It completes the President's power to take all or any part of any manufacturing plant or all or any part of real or personal property, including stocks, bonds, insurance policies, or even savings and bank accounts, and to dispose of these to any other person, corporation, bureau, or foreign country.
4. It permits the President to take over the entire stock of any corporation, operate the corporation, or dispose of the stock in any way
he 5. It completely changes our industrial eceonomy to a military economy under absolute control of military personnel or Governinent bureaucrats.
6. It hits hardest the small manufacturers, their employees, and the communities dependent upon these enterprises.
7. It gives the President power to deprive investors in all private enterprise of any assurance or security of either capital or earnings.
8. It supplants individual initiative, private enterprise, and the profit system, which have built this country, with an indifferent. bureaucracy wholly free from either ownership or trusteeship.
9. It makes all “labor subservient to and dependent upon Government.
10. The bill provides the President with a grant of power to set aside our constitutional rights and give us instead a Nazi socialist regime.
Considering the bill now before this committee, it would appear those who drafted it believe that, as Congress has acquired the
habit of granting blank-check requests on practically all of our money, it will now grant this blank check on all of our wealth and wealth-producing machinery. For that is exactly what this bill will do.
Its proponents claim this bill now before you greatly differs from the one originally introduced. We contend that a study of the wording of the committee print reveals that, while the phrasing is different, the intent and powers remain the same.
Let me call your attention to a passage in the printed record of these hearings, a discussion between Senator Lodge and Under Secretary of War Patterson. Senator Lodge asked the Under Secretary:
Now, take those words, "of any kind or character,” at the beginning, what is the need of that phrase there?
The Senator was referring to the phrase in line 7, page 1, of the original print. Under Secretary Patterson replied:
Well, that is supposed to make it broad enough for patents, contracts, shares of stock, if you like, or anything like that which might be most convenient; but it all has to do with national defense.
If someone can think of a happier form of wording that will accomplish what we are after and at the same time limit operations, it is all right with ine.
Consider the phrasing of subsection (a) starting with line 9, page 4, of the committee print, and then also consider subsection (b), lines 15 to 18, on the same page. How can anyone say that the intent to grant the power to seize anything and everything that might be interpreted as being necessary to the so-called defense program is not covered under those sections?
Indeed, a study of the wording of those sections and comparison with the original wording convinces one that someone found that "happier form of wording that will accomplish what we want,” as Mr. Patterson put it.
As has been pointed out to this committee by Senator Downey and by many witnesses, this bill is so drawn that it will permit the President to seize not only an entire plant, but any part thereof. One or two or more pieces of important machinery may be seized, removed from the plant and turned over to someone else, as the President may elect.
In many instances, as has been pointed out by other witnesses, the removal of a few pieces of important machinery from a plant may well cause a complete shut-down. The owner would be offered the appraised value of only the machinery seized. If he refused, he could accept 75 percent of what was offered, then sue the Government for the value of the ruined plant.
Considering the experiences outlined to this committee by Mr. Barlow, and realizing that his experiences may well be the example rather than the exception of what we may expect to occur should this bill become law, how can anyone deny that this bill does not violate the entire Bill of Rights of the Constitution?
Having crippled the plant owner by removing a few pieces of machinery, what of the wage earners dependent upon that plant for their livelihood? Close the plant and you take away their jobs. In the smaller machine, machine-tool, and allied plants, I am reliably informed that many of these wage earners enter the plant as apprentices, following in the footsteps of their father, and probably
grandfather, and leave only on retirement or death. If this bill takes away their jobs as it threatens to do, what becomes of them?
According to reliable surveys, little communities have been built up around these smaller plants. These plants are the main source of income for the butcher, the baker, and the many other retail stores that go to make up a community. What of them, and their employees, when their main source of income is shut off ?
What of the homes that now are entirely dependent upon these plants for their source of income? What is to happen to them? You and I both know what will happen. Home life will be ruined, the morale of the family broken, lives destroyed. Is that the way of life we are seeking to protect by this measure?
We all realize the backbone of American industry is the hundreds of thousands of small enterprises and the millions of pobs they provide. These are the plants and the jobs that will be jeopardized by the passage of this measure.
How many such plants, how many such wage earners, what proportion of our entire population will have their very existence threatened by this bill should it become law?
An examination of the survey of manufacturers conducted by the Bureau of Census, Department of Commerce, in 1939, reveals there were at that time a total of 9,335 machine and machine-tool plants in this country enjoying an average of only 50 wage earners or less.
Altogether these plants employed a total of 451,593 wage earners during that year, who were paid $642,101,816 in wages. Truly a sizable figure, even if it may sound small in these Halls of Congress, where one now is accustomed to hear figures quoted only in the billions of dollars.
These 451,593 wage earners, working during 1939 in the 9,335 machine and machine-tool plants mentioned, added $1,714,440,590 to the value of raw materials through manufacture.
This may sound small if one is thinking only of all the people everywhere in the world except in these United States. However, the total number of wage earners employed in these little plants was equal to 44 percent of the total number of wage earners employed by all of the railroads in this country during that same year. It was more than all the wage earners employed in our wide-flung telephone and telegraph systems throughout the country; twice the number of wage earners employed in producing motor vehicles in this country in 1938, and 94 percent of the wage earners employed in producing motor vehicles, motor-vehicle bodies, and motor-vehicle parts here in that same year. You will note I am only speaking now of the machine and machine-tool industry.
And, since we are told we must have legislation like this in order to prevent totalitarian nations from seizing our foreign, our export trade, we should realize that the value added to goods by manufacture by these 451.593 wage earners working in these small machine and machine-tool plants was equal to 53 percent of the total value of our entire export business for the year 1939.
That is only one side of the picture, gentlemen. Close these small machine and machine-tool plants and where will remaining manufacturing plants, using machinery, obtain the parts and new machinery necessary for repairs, replacements, and expansion which