First let us ask whether our wealth-creating agencies, particular that of industry, are to be based upon private enterprise of policy management. I can not see how any intelligent observer can have any possible faith in the capacity of political management to provide either stability or progress if it should set out to operate the agencies of wealth creation, particularly industry. It is my firm conviction that any form of 'Government Regulation of Business' is bound to result in an ever-increasing interference with the broad exercise of initiative — the very foundation of the American system. That is the natural evolution of bureaucracy. If that be so, might not the ultimate logical result be the necessity for the socialization of industry through the break down of the profit system induced by the accumulative effect of the ever-increasing political management. We do not need to go far afield to see definite evidences of that possibility
There has to be this pioneer, the individual who has the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worth while, especially when it is new and different.
Competition is the final price determinant and competitive prices may result in profits which force you to accept a rate of return less than you hoped for, or for that matter to accept temporary losses. And, in times of inflation, the rate-of-return concept comes up against the problem of assets undervalued in terms of replacement. Nevertheless, no other financial principle with which I am acquainted serves better than rate of return as an objective aid to business judgment. This principle had governed the thinking of the Finance Committee of General Motors since 1917.
Industry's responsibilities broaden. Its leaders must develop an enlightened and militant statesmanship, for progress in the solution of these problems is vital. If this responsibility is not assumed and discharged from within industry, it is bound to be superimposed from without.