New England is ready to move forward. Our problems are serious - and they have been with us for a long time. Our hard-hit textile and fish industries - the pockets of chronic unemployment and poverty - the problems of failing transportation - of unfair competition - of economic "old age." But these are problems which leadership and vision - and faith in the people of New England - can conquer. Their solution lies just across the boundaries of the new frontier.
It is true that we cannot rely on our natural resources - our coal mines or oil wells or abundance of waterpower - to solve our problems. We cannot rely upon the stability of the industrial giants - or the advantages of cheap fuel, cheap labor, or cheap transportation costs. For we do not have them.
But we do have our own resources - human resources - the skill and experience and determination of our people - the New Englanders who have conquered the obstacles of the last 300 years and who are ready to meet the challenges of the decade ahead.
If we are to put these human resources to work - if we are to give New Englanders the chance to revive their economy and restore their prosperity - then we need vigorous leadership and understanding, coupled with an effective, workable program for action.
Such a program is not a program for New England - it is a program for America. By building New England we build America. By helping the New England economy we strengthen the American economy. By working toward a brighter future for the people of New England we help assure a brighter future for the people of New England, we help assure a brighter future for all Americans.
First, we must assist New England's efforts for industrial development and diversification. This means an expansion of credit, incentive to modernize, the development of our resources, cleaning up our polluted rivers, ending unfair freight rates, expanding transportation, and reversing the discriminatory Government policies which have led to the highest rate of small business failures in our history. The Federal Government cannot do for us what we must do for ourselves, but it can, with more progressive leadership, set the atmosphere in which our economy can be revitalized, introducing a new era that will bring new business and new jobs and new income to New England.
Second, we must reverse the serious decline in New England's textile industry. Through a program of plant modernization, full use of valuable weapons against excessive imports, and expansion of markets through research, the highly developed skills that made our textile industry great can once again lead the way to greatness.
Third, we must work to establish decent, adequate and fair national standards of unemployment compensation and minimum wages. The raising of the minimum wage and its extension to cover millions of unprotected American workers must be one of the first items on the agenda of the next administration. Our unemployment benefits, too, must be standardized and extended. By assuring working Americans of a living wage, by assuring unemployed Americans that they will be able to have the basic necessities of life, we help not only New England against substandard competition; we help the entire Nation.
Fourth, we must pass an adequate program of area redevelopment to help our distressed areas. The area redevelopment act which was passed by the Congress and twice vetoed by the President is such a program. It would provide areas of chronic unemployment with the tools which can bring new industry and new jobs to men who want to work, have the capacity to work but are unable to find work. I will continue to fight for this program in whatever capacity I am serving next year to help our distressed areas help themselves.
Finally, New England shares in the urgent economic needs of the entire Nation - the need to provide a decent life for our older citizens and a decent education for our young - the need to provide adequate housing for middle and low income groups - the need to eliminate the slums and the congestion which are strangling our great cities - the need to provide equal opportunities for all Americans of all races and beliefs. These are programs for the Nation - they meet national needs - and they will bring new hope and new progress to all Americans.
This is a program for New England - and New England's program for America. Its fulfillment will require effort and sacrifice and dedication. But it is a program of hope and of faith in New England's future - and we can have faith in New England's future - if we only have faith in our country and ourselves.