The sudden ending of the war with Japan changed the reconversion picture over night. Now business and government can concentrate upon the change-over to civilian production and the disposal of surplus war goods and plants. We all know there are billions of dollars worth of plants and machinery to think about. For example, there are more than 13,000 manufacturing plants which must be converted and millions of workers shifted to new jobs. In addition, there are millions of servicemen who should have the first priority in civilian jobs. Labor, management and government will have many vital decisions to make.
We know that one of the biggest headaches confronting business is the transplanting of thousands of machine tools and other kinds of factory equipment. The surplus disposal agencies have made some progress in this direction, but are handicapped because of the lack of experienced personnel.
The average taxpayer who is anxious to see that the government receives the “greatest dollar return” for the surplus goods must not overlook the impact which the mishandling of these capital goods will have upon the industries which manufactured them if they are allowed to flow from government warehouses and plants promiscuously. Fortunately, Congress in studying the surplus problem seems to be cognizant of this point.
Congress and the government agencies should consult with business to a greater degree than heretofore because of the far-reaching effect that this situation can have upon the national economy. The intelligent handling of surplus machine tools is probably the most important for consideration. These tools are implements of manufacture, which ultimately produce consumer goods. In other words, the machinery for processing food and the equipment for making clothing, shoes and a thousand and one other perishable items are all produced with machine tools.
The tools that are available will offer an excellent opportunity for the average manufacturer or small shop operator to replace many of his obsolete machines with a minimum of capital investment.
The quick redistribution of these tools is the means of a rapid conversion program and the most effective method of getting men back to work in peacetime pursuits. Putting these tools back to work is the best insurance for the preservation of private enterprise.