Profits and People

I suppose all of us are familiar with the old fairy tale about the goose which had the delightful ability to lay nothing but golden eggs. Each day this goose would supply its owner with a solid gold egg, and all its owner had to do for this find income was to take good care of it. Being human, however, the owner got greedy, and — well, you know the story. He killed the goose, and his supply of golden eggs shut off forever.

In the United States, you can find an interesting parallel to this old fairy tale. In our case, let us call the goose “industry,” and for all these years it has been laying golden eggs for the American people. However, just like the fairy tale, after a while, we start taking it for granted.

We expect more and more, and bigger and bigger golden eggs, but somehow, we forget the goose.

All industry wants for its golden eggs, and what it must have to continue to lay them, is a thing called “profit.” It’s right here that most people do not have the faintest idea of what’s necessary for the care and feeding of a goose. Profit, too far too many people, has become a bad word, not to be used in mixed company. These people don’t know that profits are the lifeblood of our free economy. Their level and trend determine future capital investment and outlays for research. So, profits are the key to the rate of our long-term economic growth.

It’s here that most people are again misinformed. They think the so-called “big business” makes enormous profits. Well, let’s take a look at the facts. In 1950, profits were 9.4 percent of national income, but they declined to 6.1 percent in 1959. In the same span, compensation of employees (including fringes) rose from 63.7 percent to about 70 percent of national income. Current indications are that the trend will worsen.

Now, what we’re doing is squeezing the goose. We’re shutting off its only means of growth.

The answer to this problem is to raise the productivity of people. If we want more, we have to produce more individually. If we don’t, we threaten the very existence of our free enterprise. The communists have declared, a long time ago, economic war on the United States. Soviet industrial production could surpass ours during the lifetime of most people listening to this broadcast if both countries maintain their present rate of growth. The U.S. industry can win the economic war and prove the superiority of the free enterprise system through better use of human resources. The greatest enemy of the communists is American Industry.

The way to do this is to do the best work of which you’re capable in the least amount of time.

The American worker makes six times as much money as his counterpart overseas. This is something to be grateful for; but unless we earn what we are getting, there’s no way on earth for it to come to last.

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