WAA in Reverse?
The editorial policy of SURPLUS RECORD has always been predicated upon impartial opinion. If, after due consideration and substantial evidence, we feel that criticism is justified, we never pull our punches.
Take for example the case of the surplus disposal program. The evidence against the succeeding governmental agencies handling war surplus was so strong that we could not stand by idly and accept this series of fiascos as just another situation to be expected of and tolerated in government bureaus. We reported the rights and the wrongs of war surplus disposal with the hope that something could be done to straighten out a sorry mess.
Nothing much happened.
Since the inauguration of the European Recovery Program we have been following rather closely the policies adopted by the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) which is the guiding hand in procurement and allocation for the European Recovery Program (ERP). We have been dumbfounded to learn that no substantial provision has been made for utilizing surplus machinery and equipment.
We have been wondering whether or not ECA will turn out to be a WAA in reverse. WAA is a disposal agency and practically gave away billions of dollars worth of surplus equipment. ECA is a procurement agency and seems destined to allocate the best in mechanical goods to Europe—to the detriment of the American manufacturer at home.
The latest report to come to our attention is that ECA is encouraging foreign purchasing missions to negotiate their own purchases. Naturally, these foreign agencies are going to request the latest in everything. It is true that this will be advantageous to the builders of machinery and equipment. But it appears ECA has overlooked the excellent opportunity thus presented of using the situation to up-grade machinery and equipment in American industrial plants by specifying surplus goods wherever possible.
There are surplus machines of all types and description in the warehouses of dealers and rebuilders . . . not to speak of the less modern machines in every industrial plant in our country which could be replaced by the new machines which will be scheduled for shipment to foreign countries under the present program.
And, anyway, what happens when we send our finest tools?
Recently U. S. manufacturers shipped a number of high-production machines to England only to have British workers go on a sit-down strike because they feared unemployment would result from the fact that the new machines turned out such a large number of pieces in such a short time. They are not accustomed to great speed, and in many instances, actually are better off without our latest-type high-production machines.
If the recipients of this machinery should feel that we are getting rid of a lot of old stuff by shipping it to them, their argument could be exploded by pointing out the large volume of sales consummated each year in this country by dealers and rebuilders of industrial plant equipment. This fact should demonstrate beyond a doubt that we would not be asking them to accept equipment we would not use ourselves.
Should a plan calling for shipment of surplus equipment instead of new be pursued, there is very little question but that the whole procurement program would be expedited. It takes less time to recondition a machine than it does to build one.