PRESIDENT COOLIDGE'S tight-lipped comment on the war debts owed the United States by its former allies was: "They hired the money." The lend-lease policy adopted by the present Administration sought to establish a basis for the most effective possible prosecution of the Second World War and also to avoid the sort of wartime financial errors which contributed so much to the economic and political troubles of the twenties and thirties. Article VII of the lend-lease master agreements provides that the conditions of the settlement "shall be such as not to burden commerce between the two countries, but to promote mutually advantageous economic relations between them and the betterment of world-wide economic relations." If this formula can be implemented, no serious economic problems will result from the American part in financing the joint war effort of the United Nations. But political dangers remain. As things stand today, certain aspects of the lend-lease program may well induce serious disputes with our present allies when the time for settlement comes.
When the President proposed the lend-lease idea he told his press conference, on December 17, 1940, "What I am trying to do is to eliminate the dollar sign . . . get rid of the silly, foolish old dollar sign." There should be no financial debt, only repayment in kind. "Suppose my neighbor's house catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire. Now, what do I do? I don't say to him before that operation, 'Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have to pay me $15 for it.' . . . I don't want $15 -- I want my garden hose back after the fire is over."
The lend-lease master agreements carried the concept a step further. Goods that have not been destroyed shall be returned if the President wishes it; "full cognizance shall be taken" of reciprocal lend-lease aid; the
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