Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1949

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Author: Harry S Truman  | Date: February 1, 1949

25
Remarks to the National Planning Association.
February 1, 1949

I KNOW I have missed an excellent dinner by being late, but I had to have dinner at least one night this week with the "boss" at home, in the Blair House.

I remember about 6 years ago, I was present at a meeting of this organization, when you were discussing postwar plans. That was in 1943. You were worried about what was going to happen to the country after hostilities ceased. You were wondering how many people were going to be out of work, and you were wondering how many businesses were going to go to the wall be. cause they didn’t have any Government contracts.

And it turned out that most of those worries were not necessary. We had to find that out by experience.

I have been interested in planning all my life. I said all my life—ever since I was old enough to understand what the word meant. You know, we plan our day’s work. We plan the houses in which we are going to live—if we can afford to build one, and we can’t these days. And then we plan our public buildings and our private buildings. We plan cities now—and towns.

But, when we talk about planning the things we want to do economically, we are charged with being Communists and fellow travelers.

I think that the difficulty is that, instead of the word "planning," the people who find fault with us when we talk about planning for economic purposes are thinking about controlled economy, not planned economy.The distinction is different, if you analyze it closely.

And I think that we have started out on a program of trying to plan our economic future so we won’t have the difficulties that we have had after other situations, such as we have been through in the last 10 years.

We have an Economic Council now, and we have a legislative committee in the Congress, known as the Economic Committee. And those people are trying to analyze the situations with which we are faced, to see if we can meet those situations before they cause us difficulties.

You remember after the Jackson administration, from 1828 to 8 years later, they had a tremendous panic in the administration of Martin Van Buren, who followed Jackson. And after the War Between the States, 1873 came along; and then in 1893—for no good reason at all that anybody could ever understand—we had another one. Then in 1907 we had a bankers’ panic, which was one of the funniest ones we ever had in the history of the country; and at that time I was working in a bank out in Kansas City. And they had the most difficult time in 1907 that I ever heard of. And nobody understood the cause—the why or wherefore of it.

And then after World War I, in 1921, we had a very difficult situation. I was in that one, too. That was when the businessman got into politics—ran on a platform in my county, a busted merchant against a very able and distinguished banker—and the busted merchant won the election. Then in 1929, and 1930, 1931 and 1932, you all remember the situation with which we were faced at that time.

And some of the people in Government and in business decided that maybe we might be able to head off a situation of that sort, after this terrible war which we have just been through. And we have been endeavoring to the best of our ability to stave off the situation with which we were faced in 1921, and in 1931. And to some extent I think we are succeeding.

And I am of the opinion that this organization can make a very great contribution to the efforts which are being put forth by the economic advisers to the President and by the Economic Committee of the Congress of the United States, and probably meet the situations before they really develop into disaster for the economy of this great Nation.

It is absolutely essential that the economic structure of the United States of America remain absolutely sound and prosperous, for the simple reason that we are in a different position now than we have ever been in our history. Due to events, over most of which we had not much control, we have become the symbol of what governments should stand for—the welfare of the people. We have become actually the international leaders in the welfare of the world as a whole.

I tried to set that out as clearly as I could in the Inaugural Address, as to what our responsibilities are under the United Nations setup, and in order to meet those responsibilities, we must ourselves be in a position to meet them; and in order to be in a position to meet them, we must be economically sound.

I think that the Employment Act, under which these measures have been taken and are being taken, is one of the most forward looking pieces of legislation that we have had in the history of this great Nation of ours. And I think that before any disaster with which we may be faced comes about, we will be in a position to meet it.

We have some of the ablest economists, and some of the ablest and most practical men working on this situation. We are nowfaced with some governmental planning, on which former President of the United States Mr. Hoover has been working with great effort, and who I am sure is coming forward with a great program for the economic operation of the Government of the United States.

I am sure that when that program is presented to the Congress, we will have all sorts of cries and wails from people who are anxious to have certain special pets of their own left in the same position in which they are now. I have already had a stack of mail that high [indicating] about this bureau and that bureau, this organization and that organization which ought not to be disturbed. And I imagine that unless the people are fully informed as to what the efforts are we ought to put forth for that sort of planning, we will have the usual result of nothing accomplished.

I have sent a great many reorganization plans to the Congress of the United States, while I had the power to do that, and I think only one of them was approved. The others were all disapproved, because some pet organization had a lot of ability to put out propaganda to prevent the reorganization of the Government on an economic basis.

Now, this organization can be of great assistance in getting an efficient setup for the Government. There are an immense number of boards and bureaus that have the authority to report to the President of the United States. If I spent my time talking to every one of those organizations, I wouldn’t do anything else but talk to them, and probably not get much more done than is done without talking to them.

You know, they talk about the powers of the President of the United States. You know what those powers are, principally? Trying to get people to do what they ought to do without being asked to do it. The President spends most of his time kissing people first on one cheek and then on the other in order to get them to do what they ought to do without getting kissed.

And if we can get into operation this efficient organization with which Mr. Hoover has been working, then maybe we can get it to operate without any persuasion on the part of the President, and he can do the job that he is employed to do. He has had a raise in salary and ought to work a little harder. I work only 18 hours a day now; maybe I can put in 20 now.

I can’t tell you how very much I appreciate the privilege of coming over here. I am very much interested in this organization, and what you are trying to accomplish. I have been interested in county and city planning, and now I am interested in world planning—for the welfare of the whole world.

And that is the job that is ahead of the United States of America, to meet the responsibilities which God gave us in 1918, and which we did not assume. We have it now again given to us. We must assume it. We must carry it out.

And we are going to do just that, I am sure, because it is necessary that we do it or else go back to the ninth century. And we can’t afford to do that. I don’t want to see that happen.

I want to thank you very much for asking me to come over here. I wish I could have been with you for the dinner, and I wish I could stay longer, but I have got to go back and put in 4 more hours to make up my 18 hours.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:15 p.m. at the annual dinner meeting of the National Planning Association in the Statler Hotel in Washington.During his remarks he referred to former President Herbert Hoover, chairman of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government.

The Association, an independent, nonpolitical, nonprofit organization, was established in 1934 to bring together leaders from agriculture, business, labor, and the professions to develop plans for dealing with national problems. The Association held its annual joint meeting in Washington from January 30 through February 1.

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Chicago: Harry S Truman, "25 Remarks to the National Planning Association.," Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1949 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1949 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.592-593 122–124. Original Sources, accessed February 4, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PPB4JES2QZWQ54.

MLA: Truman, Harry S. "25 Remarks to the National Planning Association." Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1949, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1949 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.592-593, pp. 122–124. Original Sources. 4 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PPB4JES2QZWQ54.

Harvard: Truman, HS, '25 Remarks to the National Planning Association.' in Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1949. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1949 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.592-593, pp.122–124. Original Sources, retrieved 4 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PPB4JES2QZWQ54.