I am not a professional writer. I am not a practicing economist or a forecaster of future events. I am an American citizen deeply concerned, like many another, with my country and its welfare, and anxious to contribute what I can to the solution of its problems.
During more than four years of wartime government service I have had a unique opportunity to learn at first hand what millions of us Americans are thinking and worrying about. At times OPA has received as many as 2.5 million telephone calls a week—from businessmen, from farmers, from industrial workers, from doctors and teachers and lawyers, from the housewives who buy the goods that make our factories go. Every week nearly half a million people have visited OPA boards all over the country—in Back Bay, Butte, the Bronx, and 5500 other places. Every day tens of thousands of letters have tumbled in upon us.
In addition we have shared the knowledge of 640 OPA Industrial Advisory Committees, nearly 100 OPA Labor Advisory Committees, 68 OPA Farm Advisory Committees, and Consumer and Trade Committees in the thousands.
All the people who have come to see us, who have called us, written us letters or sent us wires, have had some very specific problems relating to rent control, price control, or rationing.
But almost always these people, in addition to their specific problems, have raised general questions that open the door on tomorrow.
The nearer we came to the end of the war, the more persistent became these questions which had no direct connection with problems OPA was supposed to solve. Since V-J Day the public concern about the future has risen even more sharply.
Thousands of businessmen have asked us again and again: What conditions will face my business after the war? What about prices, profits, taxes? Is depression avoidable? Or is it as inevitable as it was after World War I?
Thousands of wage earners have asked us again and again: What are my chances for a job? What about the cost of living? What are my chances for a decent wage? Will booming postwar production take up the slack that made for prewar unemployment? Will millions of jobs again be scrapped when the boom is over?
Thousands of farmers have asked us again and again: What lies ahead for us? After the boom period is over, will prices for farm products slump disastrously as they did after the last war?
Thousands upon thousands of returning servicemen have asked and are still asking, this most persistent question of all: How will we veterans find our places in the civilian economy? Will there be jobs enough, and good jobs enough, to go around both for us and. for everybody else? Will there be apple-sellers this time on American street corners?
Each of these groups has its own special problems to face in the future. But clearly the solution of those problems can only come from an objective study of the needs of our economy as a whole, and the development of a positive course of action to satisfy the broad interests of us all.
In the course of time and after many long talks with all kinds of people from all walks of life, I began to put together many parts of the problem and its solution like so many pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Gradually an understandable pattern seemed to evolve.
The facts and ideas I have gathered are not startlingly new. Over a period of eighteen months I have put them down solely in the hope that they will provoke interest and thought in solving the economic difficulties which confront us.