Now we should be studying and planning for a safer industrial life, one in which there will be fewer waves, a safer and more even sea. That we can have, if we are willing to be less greedy now, less venturesome and predatory.
The only people who have done much in the way of substantial thinking as to cooperative action, collective action, are those who think in terms of immediate and large fortunes for themselves, through plans of capitalizing combined brains and money. Their example is a good one to follow in lesser things, where the object is not great wealth but a more even measure of good living. Insurance is the right word for it, business life insurance through honest cooperation. You mark my word, that is the next big move in business affairs. Nationalization of things is not their socialization. Not at all. It may mean their deserialization, their withdrawal from the use of society altogether, or their more imperfect use. Calling things by nice names, popular alluring names, does not solve problems. Nevertheless such names evidence our social dreams. We all feel that there must be more of justice in the economic world. But we don’t want it at the expense of society, that is at our own expense, for that means Bolshevism and Bolshevism is paralysis. ...
Oil is one of the fine forms of Power that we know, for many purposes the handiest. Industrially it is as indispensable and staple as the soil itself. To lose faith in the future of oil— why, that’s as unthinkable as to lose faith in your hands. Oil, coal, electricity, what are these but multiplied and more adaptable, super-serviceable hands? They may temporarily be unemployed but the world can’t go round without them.
A slack time is always one of fear, never of confidence. And no policies should be adopted in such an atmosphere. For the man who can afford to take the long view these are great days. He can take up what others cannot carry. Better still he can prepare for the demand of to-morrow, or the day after to-morrow—find more oil, if you please, plan for its fuller use, as we are talking of oil, but the principle applies to everything. Take the railroads. Their car shortage is mounting and their out-of-order equipment is way up. This has always been so in hard times. But this is the very time when they should have plenty of money, to get road bed and equipment in perfect shape for to-morrow’s rush. No, the nation would do no better if it had the roads. Congress doesn’t think ahead two years. It is a reflector, not a generator. The fault is ours.
Right now the call in national affairs of every kind is for the long view; we have use for the men who can see this nation in its relation to other nations, next year and next generation, and for men in business who can think in terms of 1922, and 1925, and 1945. That’s what really big business can do—hold its breath under water and watch the waves.