When it comes to long run planning for the Valleyor for
the United States as a wholeincrease of production is
not enough. We do not want merely to duplicate here on the Tennessee
the industrial set-up that has broken down in Detroit and Pittsburgh
and the other cities that have sent back penniless the quotas
they were at such pains to draw from these parts during post-war
prosperity. We must try to get another picture of what to do
about the two million people in this watershedof what
they can do for themselves.
for TVA by Lewis Hine
Week-end at Norris damsite on Clinch
River where 2000 men are at work on preliminary construction.
Nowhere in America, says Mr. Morgan, has he found a superior
labor force in adaptability, intelligence or workmanship.
The nascent talent that is hidden
away in the hills is as important as the potential energy
of the stream flow. Here is a typical farm boy who has
a place near Piney Flats and who has mastered the craftsmanship
of casting and finishing plates at the Kingsport Press
ECONOMIC surplus does not necessarily
result in a prosperous and happy people. In many other regions
and epochs the world has seen such a surplus produce, not freedom
and leisure and well-being, but tyranny, servitude and oppression.
Take, for example, the case of ancient Egypt. During the time
of the Pharaohs there was a great surplus of food and of men.
That surplus might have been used to build wholesome and sanitary
dwellings for the whole people. It might have been used for
public hygiene, for public education, for research, for useful
public works. It actually was used to build up the greatest
piles of stones on earththe Pyramids; to create heartless
the long centuries that story of surplus bringing misery has
been repeated again and again. In America today we do not build
pyramids. We go in for competitive social expenditures. Our
big houses are too large and our little houses are too small.
A few years ago I was visiting in one of the mountain districts
of the Tennessee watershed and spent the night in a little cabin
in the hills. There were the father and mother and six children.
I suppose the entire family did not see a hundred dollars a
year in cash. Yet all were neat, courteous and intelligent.
On leaving I wondered how I might express my appreciation. It
would have been an offense to offer money to my hosts, but I
sent $25 to a wise mutual friend in the mountains. That $25
produced the following: one child had tonsils removed by a publicspirited
surgeon, one girl had her eyes fitted with glasses, and one
child got six weeks in a boarding-school (there was no school
A member of the faculty of
a southern university has recently made a study of the cash
incomes from farms in a mountain county. The average total cash
income this last year was $45 for each farm in the county$10
from relief and the balance from the farm. In North Carolina,
two hundred mountain farms in four counties were similarly studied.
Taking out taxes and the cost of fertilizer they had left, on
an average, $86 in cash. Such low levels of income do not indicate
low levels of innate capacity. There is a good breed in the
hills that drain into the Tennessee. It deserves a good chance.
Many lives are rusting away, many hopes are fading, because
there has been no chance. This is not primarily a problem of
economic theory. The South's greatest poet, Sidney Lanier, put
for the Poor to have some part
yon sweet living lands of art
Makes problems not for head, but heart.
Vainly might Plato's brain revolve it:
Plainly the heart of a child could solve it.
need social-economic planning in the Tennessee Valley. We need
kilowatts of electric power and tons of potash, phosphates and
ammonia. We need forest policy and production policy. But we
need something more than all thcse. We need the desire and the
will that this productiveness shall not be segregated so that
a few compete in ostentation while the many strive hopelessly
against fate. We need a greater sharing here and in America
in June the Congress and the President set up the Tennessee
Valley Authority, the general purpose of the act comprehended
such a social goal, but it was but generally defined and only
slightly provided for. Most of the present appropriation is
for specific work, to build dams, transmission lines and fertilizer
plants. The law provides that the President may from time to
time outline his plans to Congress and request further funds.
In the meantime our board of three directors, under the direction
of the President, as provided in the law, must discover means
for working out its purpose. The chief means must be cooperation
with the people of the Tennessee River region and of the nation.
Only as they have hopes and desires can much be accomplished.
The Tennessee Valley Authority must chiefly be an instrument
which can be used by the people of the region and of the United