Point Four

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Point Four was the fourth of Truman's Four Points, laid out in his inaugural address in 1949.[1] Truman's Fourth Point reflected a prevailing philosophy at the time, that overpopulation and hunger would lead to political instability, Communism, and war.[2] It was the basis for the U.S. government joining in the Green Revolution. In the speech he said:

"Fourth, we must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.
"More than half the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery. Their food is inadequate. They are victims of disease. Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and to more prosperous areas.
"For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and the skill to relieve the suffering of these people.
"The United States is pre-eminent among nations in the development of industrial and scientific techniques. The material resources which we can afford to use for the assistance of other peoples are limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible.
"I believe that we should make available to peace-loving peoples the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better life. And, in cooperation with other nations, we should foster capital investment in areas needing development.
"Our aim should be to help the free peoples of the world, through their own efforts, to produce more food, more clothing, more materials for housing, and more mechanical power to lighten their burdens.
"We invite other countries to pool their technological resources in this undertaking. Their contributions will be warmly welcomed. This should be a cooperative enterprise in which all nations work together through the United Nations and its specialized agencies wherever practicable. It must be a worldwide effort for the achievement of peace, plenty, and freedom.
"With the cooperation of business, private capital, agriculture, and labor in this country, this program can greatly increase the industrial activity in other nations and can raise substantially their standards of living."

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  1. Harry S. Truman: Inaugural Address, Accessed April 19, 2011.
  2. John H. Perkins, Geopolitics and the Green Revolution: Wheat, Genes, and the Cold War, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997

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