1945 Burden Memo on Postwar Civil Aviation Policy
This is a “white paper” dated April 25, 1945 written by William A.M. Burden, an aviation consultant and the special assistant to the Secretary of War for Air. It appears to be a response to March 22, 1945 memo from the new Secretary of Commerce, Henry Wallace, regarding the future of post-war civil aviation in the United States.
The paper states that:
…a good case can be made for such expenditure on the part of the Federal government. Our past government expenditures on civil aviation have proved a good investment. The accumulate deficit on domestic air mail since 1917 (which at one time reached $200 million) has been wiped out and the Post Office Department is currently reaping an annual profit of $70 million on the service. It is believed that over the long term the necessary additional “seed corn” expenditures on civil aviation – for airports, airways, and civil pilot training – will be returned through taxation on the growing new industry. On the intangible side it is certain that more rapid transportation will bring important if less exactly measurable benefits to the country by quickening our channels of distribution and by facilitating the social intercourse and recreational activities of our citizens.
(The paper also mentions, as an aside, that “The creation of a Department of Transportation perhaps 10 to 20 years hence should be considered” which is probably why we found this copy of the paper as the first item in the Bureau of the Budget’s subject files on federal government transportation reorganization at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.)