Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from a Press Conference for Business Paper Editors

June 11, 1943

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly I think all of us feel a lot better about the progress of the war than we did the last time we were together in this room. On the whole, things are going pretty well.

I am always appalled, of course- I am just as impatient as you are—by the difficulties of staging another operation in the war, either in the Pacific or in the Atlantic, without spending the tremendous amount of time that is necessary in preparation- even a minor operation- that takes weeks and months to get it so organized that there is a reasonable chance for its success on the "D" Day. That is why we all have to remember that things can't end in a military way in any short period of time. The only quick ending to a war of this kind, of course, will be the collapse of the enemy; and as Mr. Churchill has said so often, that is something we can't put our faith in, or base our plans on. In all probability it is going to take a long time before the Axis powers collapse—Pacific and Atlantic.

In the meantime we have, of course, an awful lot of problems at home. But every time I go through the country, or go to North Africa- (laughter) and come back here, I have a perfectly natural feeling about the futility of so many of the things that one has to spend an awful lot of time on in Washington, D. C. The people of the country are all right. Well, we have been going through the most awful growing pains in Washington, as you know. And we are going to keep on, because we are growing all the time; we certainly haven't reached maturity in waging war. There are always new problems that keep coming up.

The problem of the last year that seemed of importance in Washington today is of relatively minor importance. Oh, we have all talked—I have too—and printed—I have too(laughter) columns and columns, for example, about the question of manpower. Well, a lot of people got completely panicky about manpower. And both last September's trip, and last April's trip, where I went out through the country, I came back to Washington, and I said to a lot of friends, "Don't talk to me about manpower any more, because the manpower question has been solved by womanpower." Now that is a simple fact. You go into plant after plant—aviation plants and tank plants—and you will find women who are in those plants up to a very high percentage, in some cases over 50 percent. It is working out extraordinarily well.

And some of the impressions of a neophyte as I was, going around, are interesting.

I said to one of the old West Pointers in one of the places where they had a lot of WAACs, "How are you getting on with all these 'gals' around here?"

And he said, "We have put in 750 more. We not only need them, we can use them very usefully to release manpower as opposed to womanpower for the various fronts."

And he said, "Incidentally, we old West Pointers, they have taught us something. We were sloppy. They salute better than we do. (Laughter) They are snappier in every way. They have improved the morale of this post 50 percent."

And then I went into one of the plane factories in Omaha, and I said to one of the old-type foremen, "You have been in this business for a long time; how do you like having all these 'gals' around here, in places 50 percent of them?"

"Well," he said, "it has done something to us. I don't know what it is," he says, patting his chin. "Look at my face."

I said, "What's the matter?

"He said, "I used to shave twice or three times a week, but I have to shave every day now." (Laughter) He says, "My wife is kicking about it."

I said, "Why? Because there are so many girls around?"

He said, "No, not that, but I wear a clean shirt every day, and it means more wash back home." (Laughter)

Well, there are all sorts of little human touches, and a great many other things, to show that we are solving things in ways that we hadn't planned for. . . .

I take it that you are all more or less interested in finance. Well, the money is coming in pretty well. We have got to keep it going at the same speed of that last War Loan, oversubscribed about five billion dollars- a little thing like that. (Laughter) It was a tremendous success, and of course, obviously, the more money we can raise in the process of war, keeping values down as far as we can, the less we will have to pay after the war is over, not just ourselves but our children and grandchildren.

And it is terribly important of course, in my judgment, to prevent inflation. We know what has happened to those countries which have gone into inflation. Their future is not very bright. In some other countries, however, they have had a pretty firm grip on inflation. There have been all kinds of protests by people who really don't think it through, on the Hill and in some of the papers, which in effect are policies in favor of inflation.

We have this unexpended gap at the top of national income. Well, if people want something they will pay any old price for it, and therefore the more that that gap can be absorbed in various ways the less danger of inflation there is. However, some people are pursuing the policy on the Hill of why shouldn't we go ahead and increase the price to the farmers and then increase wages, the old vicious spiral. . . .

I think some of you will remember that back in 1932 and 1933 the purchasing power of the dollar was in a very serious situation, and we wanted to turn it in the opposite direction; and with the enthusiastic help of business in 1933 and 1934, we did raise the index figure from about- I think it was 68 to about 84 in those two years.

Well, immediately that restored confidence. We weren't afraid of what would happen to the buying power of our dollar if we put it into business or anything else.

And what I hope is that we can get through this war without materially changing the buying power of the dollar that we get in our pay checks. That is why on taxes, for example, I hope that we will be able to continue just the way we have been going, with some increases in taxes, but also in the continuation of what has been so far a great success, in the sale of war bonds. And we have had perfectly wonderful cooperation from business as a whole, every kind of association and individual business, in carrying that out.

And I don't have to tell you that I am awfully happy the way the relationship between business as a whole and the Government has been going on. We have had complete cooperation. . . .

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from a Press Conference for Business Paper Editors Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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