Ladies and gentlemen:
From reading the agenda, I think you have had a pretty full plate on the domestic issues. I gather from looking at the people here at the head table that you have been briefed.
I heard the answer to the last question on the economy. I understand there were other questions on that, and on our health program, also on our environment, on our revenue sharing, reorganization programs, on our crime programs, particularly with regard to the control of dangerous drugs, and also programs that may be in related fields that Mr. MacGregor1 may have covered.
1 Clark MacGregor, Counsel to the President for Congressional Relations.
I think perhaps for this kind of meeting, what I could best do is to put all of these domestic programs into a broader context, to indicate the relationship between these programs and the problems that America has in the world.
Sometimes that seems very, very hard to do. I realize that it is quite the approach these days to suggest that we either ought to look at our foreign policy and put that as priority number one--in other words, the security of America must come first--or we must put our priority on domestic problems, and turn away from our problems in the world.
Of course, the answer is to that: We must do both. Because it would not make any sense to have the best environment with clean air and clean water and good jobs and all the rest if we were not around to enjoy it. On the other side of the coin, we are not going to be able to play an effective role in the world unless we have a healthy environment, economically and in every other way.
So what I would like to do is to, for a few moments, discuss the world position that we find ourselves in today, and then indicate why I believe these domestic programs--a program of reform which goes far beyond any program of reform that has been submitted to the American people in over 50 years, or 40 years I should say--why that program is so essential at this particular time; why it is that America now cannot be satisfied domestically, we can't rest on our laurels; why we have to make a critical examination of everything we are doing in this country to see whether we are doing it with the most efficiency possible.
Now, in terms of our world situation, the tendency is--and this has been the case for the last 5 to 6 years--for us to obscure our vision, almost totally, of the world because of Vietnam. That is understandable. We are always concerned about the war in which we are currently involved. That was true at the time of Korea; it is now true of Vietnam.
The difficulty is that as we obscure our vision with Vietnam, we do not see very significant changes that have occurred in the world over the past 25 years, the period since World War II, and changes that have occurred even more dramatically, perhaps, over the past 5 to 10 years, and ones that may be in the offing. So I would like to take Vietnam very briefly.
I have nothing new to say on Vietnam. It seems to me, however, that since so much has been written and said in recent weeks about how we got in, it might be well to reiterate what we are doing to get out.
On Vietnam, what we find is that 300,000 Americans have left Vietnam since this Administration came in. A division a month are coming home each month at this time. As far as casualties are concerned, it is interesting to note that the casualties in the month of June were less on a monthly basis than the weekly casualties we were having a year ago. When we came into office, they were 15 times as great per month or per week or per day, take the index, whatever it is. One is too many, but that does indicate the winding down of the war.
As far as the ending of the war is concerned, as far as American involvement, we find that we are proceeding on two tracks. We are actively pursuing the negotiating channel. We also, regardless of what happens on the negotiating front, are pursuing our program of Vietnamization in which all Americans will be withdrawn from Vietnam consistent with two objectives: first, of course, the release of our prisoners of war; and second, in a way that will contribute to a permanent and lasting peace, we hope, in Southeast Asia and in the Pacific rather than in a way that might increase the danger of another war.
I will simply conclude this section by saying this: Vietnam is an issue which, of course, concerns us. It is an issue, however, to which we have an answer. The American involvement is being ended. It will be ended certainly. The question is only a matter of time and only a matter of how. So consequently, it seems to me that a group of editors, opinion makers like yourselves, should, and I think will, appreciate the opportunity to look beyond Vietnam.
For example, a year from now, what is the world going to look like as Vietnam moves from our vision, or at least recedes from it, and what will America's role in the world be at that time?
As I came into the room I noticed Martin Hayden,2 shook hands with him, and I perhaps can put my remarks on the world scene in context by pointing out that he first came to see me when I was a freshman Congressman. It was 24 years ago. I was thinking how much had happened in those 24 years. Many of you, a few of you, are old enough to remember what America was 24 years ago.
2 Martin S. Hayden, editor in chief, Detroit News.
We were number one in the world militarily, with no one who even challenged us because we had a monopoly on atomic weapons. We also at that point, of course, were number one economically by all odds. In fact, the United States of America was producing more than 50 percent of all the world's goods.
That was just 25 years ago. Now, 25 years having passed, let's look at the situation today and what it may be 5 years from now or 10 years from now. I will not try to limit myself to 5 or 10 years except to say that in the next decade we are going to see changes that may be even greater than what have occurred in the last 25 years, and very great ones have occurred in that respect.
First, instead of just America being number one in the world from an economic standpoint, the preeminent world power, and instead of there being just two super powers, when we think in economic terms and economic potentialities, there are five great power centers in the world today. Let's look at them very briefly.
There is, of course, the United States of America. There is, second, Western Europe--Western Europe with Britain in the Common Market. That means 300 million of the most advanced people in the world, with all the productivity and all the capacity that those people will have and, of course, with the clout that they have when they will act together, as they certainly will. That is a new factor in the world scene that will come, and come very soon, as we all know.
Then in the Pacific, looking also at free world countries, we have a resurgent Japan. I met with steel leaders this morning-leaders of industry and leaders of unions.3 I pointed out what had happened to Japan in terms of their business: Just 20 years ago Japan produced 5 million tons of steel a year; this year they produced 100 million tons of steel; 2 years from now Japan will produce more steel than the United States of America.
3The President met with union and management leaders of the steel industry to urge a constructive wage settlement which would help the industry become more competitive in world markets. The transcript of a news briefing on the meeting by George P. Shultz, Director, Office of Management and Budget, was released by the White House on July 6, 1971.
That is what has happened. It has happened in the case of Japan, in the case of Germany, our two major enemies in World War II, partly as a result of our help in getting them on their feet. But it has happened since that time as a result of their own energy and their own ability.
So now we have three power centers-the United States, Western Europe, Japan, noting that both Western Europe and Japan are very potent competitors of the United States--friends, yes; allies, yes--but competing and competing very hard with us throughout the world for economic leadership.
Now we turn to the other two super powers, economic super powers I will say for the moment. The Soviet Union, of course, first comes to mind. Looking at the Soviet Union, we are entering a period which only time will tell may be successful in terms of creating a very new relationship or a very different relationship than we have had previously.
I referred to the need for an era of negotiation rather than confrontation when I made my inaugural speech. We have been negotiating; we have made some progress in negotiating. The important thing is that we are negotiating rather than confronting in many areas of the world where confrontation could lead to explosion. Whether it is on the limitation of nuclear arms, whether it is on the central issue of Europe, or whether it is on the Mideast, negotiations are going on.
I am not suggesting that these negotiations are going to lead to instant peace and instant relationships with the Soviet Union such as we presently have with our friends in Western Europe and with our friends in Asia who may be allied with us, or who may have systems of government that are more closely aligned to ours. What we have to recognize is that even as we limit arms, if we do reach an agreement in that field, and even if we find ways to avoid confrontation in other areas, and perhaps work out negotiated settlements for mutual force reductions in Europe, the problem of Berlin, all the others that come to mind, we must recognize that the Soviet Union will continue to be a very potent, powerful, and aggressive competitor of the United States of America. And, ironically---and this is also true of Mainland China, as I will point out in a moment--as we have more and more success on the negotiation front, as for example the Soviet Union, like the United States, may be able if we have a limitation in nuclear arms, if we are able to turn our eyes more toward our economic development and our economic problems, it simply means that the competition changes and becomes much more challenging in the economic area than it has been previously.
So what we find, in other words, is that the success, and we do want success, of a policy of negotiation rather than confrontation will lead to infinitely more economic competition from the Soviet Union.
Mainland China is, of course, a very different situation. First in terms of its economic capacity at the present time, a pretty good indication of where it is is that Japan, with 100 million people, produces more than Mainland China, with 800 million people. But that should not mislead us, and it gives us, and should give none of the potential competitors in world markets of Mainland China, any sense of satisfaction that it will always be that way. Because when we see the Chinese as people--and I have seen them all over the world, and some of you have, too, whether in Hong Kong, or whether in Taiwan, or whether they are in Singapore or Bangkok, any of the great cities, Manila, where Chinese are there--they are creative, they are productive, they are one of the most capable people in the world. And 800 million Chinese are going to be, inevitably, an enormous economic power, with all that that means in terms of what they could be in other areas if they move in that direction.
That is the reason why I felt that it was essential that this Administration take the first steps toward ending the isolation of Mainland China from the world community. We had to take those steps because the Soviet Union could not, because of differences that they have that at the present time seem to be irreconcilable. We were the only other power that could take those steps.
Let me be very, shall I say, limited in what I would discuss on this particular issue, because we should not consider that more has happened than has happened. What we have done is simply opened the door--opened the door for travel, opened the door for trade.
Now the question is whether there will be other doors opened on their part. But at least the doors must be opened and the goal of U.S. policy must be, in the long term, ending the isolation of Mainland China and a normalization of our relations with Mainland China because, looking down the road--and let's just look ahead 15 to 20 years--the United States could have a perfectly effective agreement with the Soviet Union for limitation of arms; the danger of any confrontation there might have been almost totally removed.
But Mainland China, outside the world community, completely isolated, with its leaders not in communication with world leaders, would be a danger to the whole world that would be unacceptable, unacceptable to us and unacceptable to others as well.
So consequently, this step must be taken now. Others must be taken, very precisely, very deliberately, as there is reciprocation on the other side.
But now let's see how this all fits into the economic program that I mentioned a moment ago, and the economic challenge. The very success of our policy of ending the isolation of Mainland China will mean an immense escalation of their economic challenge not only to us but to others in the world.
I again come back to the fundamental point: 800 million Chinese, open to the world, with all the communication and the interchange of ideas that inevitably will occur as a result of that opening, will become an economic force in the world of enormous potential.
So, in sum, what do we see? What we see as we look ahead 5 years, 10 years, perhaps it is 15, but in any event, within our time, we see five great economic super powers: the United States, Western Europe, the Soviet Union, Mainland China, and, of course, Japan.
Now, I do not suggest, in mentioning these five, that Latin America is not important, that Africa is not important, that South Asia is not important. All nations are important, and all peoples in underdeveloped or less developed countries will play their role. But these are the five that will determine the economic future and, because economic power will be the key to other kinds of power, the future of the world in other ways in the last third of this century.
Now let's see what this means to the United States. It means that the United States, as compared with that position we found ourselves in immediately after World War II, has a challenge such as we did not even dream of. Then we were talking about the dollar gap; then we were talking about the necessity of--putting it in terms of a poker game--that the United States had all the chips and we had to spread a few of the chips around so that others could play.
We did it. One hundred billion dollars worth to Western Europe, for example, to rebuild them, and billions of others to other countries, and it was the correct policy as it turned out. But now when we see the world in which we are about to move, the United States no longer is in the position of complete preeminence or predominance. That is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it can be a constructive thing. The United States, let us understand, is still the strongest nation in the world; it is still the richest nation in the world. But now we face a situation where four other potential economic powers have the capacity, have the kind of people--if not the kind of government, but at least the kind of people--who can challenge us on every front.
That brings us back home, and it brings us back home for a hard look at what America needs to do if we are going to run this race economically and run it effectively and maintain the position of world leadership, a position that can only be maintained if the United States retains its preeminent position in the economic field.
I could sum it up briefly this way: First, in personal terms, we need a healthy people. Mr. Richardson has, of course, directed his comments to the need for programs ,that will make us a more healthy people in a very physical sense.
We need a healthy environment. And Mr. Ruckelshaus has directed his remarks to the need for programs that will make the environment in this country more healthy.
We need, also, a healthy economy. Mr. Stein has been talking about the economy, and I think it is only relevant to mention the fact that in terms of the economy that we have a situation here that at the moment, again, obscures our vision because of temporary problems which will change once the problems move along. For example, when we consider the problem of unemployment, it must be noted that if the 1,200,000 who have been let out of defense plants and out of the Armed Forces since this Administration came in were still in the Armed Forces and in Vietnam and in defense plants, unemployment would be less than 5 percent today. But the cost would be too high. What we want is high employment, and full employment to the extent that we can get full employment, but without the cost of war. And we can have it. That is what our policy is directed to achieve.
When we speak of a healthy economy, we are also speaking, as Mr. Stein mentioned--I heard his answer to that last question--of an economy in which the fires of inflation have been cooled. We are moving on that. We have made some progress, not enough, but we have made some.
At this particular point, it is essential that whether it is in having to make the hard decision to veto a public works bill which would not speak to the problem of unemployment now, but would enormously escalate the problem of inflation a year from now, and 2 years and 3 years and 4 years from now, or whether it is in speaking to the leaders of labor and management and calling upon them to be responsive and responsible in their wage price decisions in seeing that they were not inflationary, the United States, of course, if it is going to have a healthy economy, must move in those particular areas, as well as in others.
Also, when we speak in terms of our health, we must speak in terms of how we accomplish some of these goals. Let me now speak quite directly about a problem that I know has been the subject of many editorials, editorials of newspapers, and, of course, on television and radio to the extent that you are permitted to do so.
First, it has become rather common practice to berate the American system. Now, without being a bit jingoistic, and being totally objective, let us examine this system of ours, examine it in terms of the problems that I have just mentioned.
Health: It would be very easy at the time that we are looking at the problems of the distribution of health care to throw the baby out with the bath water and to fail to recognize that at the present time, while we have enormous problems which need to be dealt with---of distributing health care fairly so that everybody who needs medical care can get it--we must handle that problem without destroying what we also enjoy: the best medical care in the world in terms of quality. That is why our medical program, and our health program, is not one that throws out the present medical care system. It builds on it. It reforms it. It corrects it.
Let's look at the environment for a moment. Here one is tempted, as he goes into a place like Los Angeles--and I will be there in a few hours--and you see the smog, that yellow ugly smog hanging over the city or when you go down the Potomac and you see the filth in that river, to say: Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have automobiles? Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have all these factories? Wouldn't it be great if we could go back to the way it was in the beginning?
The answer is: not at all. I have been, and you have been, to countries that do not have the problems of the environment created by an industrial society. Those countries and those peoples, of course, would very much like to have those problems if that was the cost of-raising their standard of living.
That is why Mr. Ruckelshaus--and this Administration--has emphasized, and will continue to emphasize an attack on the problem of the environment, but recognizing that the genius that created the industrial might of the United States, that created the problems in the environment, can be put to the task of cleaning it up. This we will do, and this we believe we can accomplish, consistent with maintaining our system.
In terms of our economy, when we talk about how we can change it and how we can deal, for example, with problems like the wage-price escalation, it, of .course, has not gone unnoticed that many at this time tend to throw up their hands and conclude that the only answer to the problem is to go to wage and price controls. Some nibble at it at the edges and say, well, we ought to have a wage-price board, or others go all the way and say, why not wage and price controls. When you talk to management, however, they want wage controls. When you talk to labor, they want price controls. When you talk to Government, they recognize, as we recognize, you cannot have wage controls without price controls, and--any of us, as I was--I was in the OPA for a few months before I went into the service in 1942--you cannot have wage and price controls without rationing.
It would help us on the unemployment problem. I just checked and I found that we had 47,000 in the OPA at the end of World War II enforcing all the regulations of wage and price controls across this country. And it wasn't working because it will not and it cannot work in peacetime.
That is why, despite the fact that even a majority of the American people, when they are asked, "Do you believe there should be wage and price controls?" say, "Yes." If they had them for a while they would say no with a vengeance, because one, they would not work in peacetime in controlling the problem; and two, because the cost in terms of snuffing out the dynamism and strength of the American economy would be a cost much too high to pay.
What I am simply suggesting is this: I am suggesting that as we talk about our system, that we must take the necessary steps to correct the problems that are wrong about it, but we must recognize that it is a system that has nevertheless produced today more jobs, higher wages, greater opportunity than any system in the world. And before lightly changing it or reforming it in a way that changes its character, let us also have this in mind.
I looked, for example, at the Soviet Union, and those of you who have traveled in the Soviet Union several times, as I have--my first trip in '59, my last in 1967--have noted the significant change that has occurred there. There we find that they have moved more and more to a system of rewards rather than every man according to his ability and receiving according to his needs, because the other will not work.
At a time that we find them moving-and, may I say, others who are trying the total socialist approach--moving our way, we could make no greater mistake than to move their way.
What are the economic miracles in the world today? Japan: a different system from ours in terms of government, but relying very, very heavily on private enterprise, private incentives. Germany: a different system from ours in terms of government, but again, private enterprise oriented, private incentives.
And here is the United States of America. At this particular time, as we look around the world, we should not turn away from what is really the great source of our strength.
Now, I have mentioned the personal health that is very important, the health of our environment, the health of our economy; I should also touch upon the health of government. Government in this country needs some major surgery; it is too fat. It has in many cases too many useless limbs; some need to be chopped off. Certainly it needs to be reduced in size. And most of all, of course, it needs an infusion of leadership and responsibility at local and State levels which is going to be essential if you are going to have improvement of government in this country.
That is why revenue sharing, that is why government reorganization are very high on our agenda. There is not much sex appeal in these programs unless you talk to mayors or Governors or county officials who say, "Please give us the money or we cannot pay our payrolls."
But on the other hand, they are enormously important because the United States cannot go into this last third of a century of competition, when we are going to have to be at our best, with an unhealthy government structure. We have got to thin it down; we have got to get it ready for the race. It is not ready for the race. That is why at the present time we are strongly advocating these changes.
There is one other kind of health that the Nation needs. I don't want to sound here like a moralist or a preacher, although I have great respect for preachers and moralists. This Nation needs moral health. By moral health, I use the term in a very broad sense.
Don Rumsfeld, I know, has addressed himself to the problem of drugs and, I assume, law enforcement. I have stated categorically, and I state it again here today, that in this Administration the era of permissiveness in law enforcement has come to an end. We are going to continue to support strong laws dealing with criminal elements; we are going to continue to support law enforcement officials up and down this land; and we are going to continue to have a program that will reduce the rise in crime and eventually reverse it.
One of our most substantial achievements has been that in cities over 100,000, that in 61 of them the crime rate went down in the last quarter, and in the city of Washington it went down for the first time in almost 20 years. Now this kind of progress is, of course, significant--more needs to be made.
Let me now address myself to the narrow, but in a sense, decisive issue of drug control. I will not elaborate on what Don Rumsfeld said, except to say that we are dealing very effectively with the problem at its source. Our arrangement with the Government of Turkey: to the great credit of the Turkish Prime Minister and his Government, we have, of course, stopped that source, and it will be totally stopped by June of next year. We are dealing with it through a better law enforcement; we are dealing with it also in terms of rehabilitation.
But the fundamental problem in terms of drugs goes far beyond that. You can stop the source of supply in one country, and if there is enough demand they will grow it someplace else. You can have the strongest laws possible, and if there is enough demand and enough use, you are just going to have to add more officials.
So what we really need here in this instance is to get at the fundamental cause, and the fundamental cause has to do, as all of you know, has to do with basically a problem in our society. This we must recognize: The problem is no longer a black problem, it is no longer a ghetto problem; it never was, as a matter of fact, although it was predominant in many of these areas. It is one that has moved now to the suburbs; it has moved to the upper middle class and the upper class as well. It is particularly a problem among younger people. It is not limited to veterans. It is one which goes far beyond that. All these things we know.
The real problem, fundamentally, gets down to why; why do people take them? And there we find the fundamental challenge of our time, a challenge that opinion leaders have to meet. If individuals have something to live for, if individuals have something to believe in, then the tendency to throw up their hands, to retreat, to give up on life, is substantially reduced.
But as a society comes to the point where there is negativism, defeatism, a sense of alienation, it is inevitable that younger people will give up. They will turn to drugs, to any other kind of activity that is, of course, disruptive of the society.
I address myself at this point to this particular question for a reason that I think is quite relevant in view of the announcement that I made on July 3. I said then that the United States was entering its Bicentennial Era, because 5 years from July 4 of this year we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the United States of America.
We wonder what kind of a nation we are going to be then. Well, I will flatly predict that 5 years from now we will still be the richest nation in the world. If we want to be--and this will depend upon the American people--and need to be, we will still be the strongest nation in the world. But the critical question is whether the United States will be a healthy nation, a healthy nation not simply with a healthy government and a healthy economy and a healthy environment and a healthy physical system insofar as we personally are concerned, but healthy in terms of its moral strength.
On that, there is a question. That question is raised often in your editorial columns, as I have noted because I read many of them. It should be raised. But I would only suggest that part of the reason for raising it is that again we tend to allow the problems of the moment to obscure our vision of the future. We tend to allow our faults--and we have many-to obscure the many virtues of our society.
I will not list them. Let us simply say this world leadership--oh, I know all the criticisms: the United States can't be trusted with power; the United States should recede from the world scene and take care of its own problems and leave world leadership to somebody else, because we engage in immorality in the conduct of our foreign policy. Let's take a look.
We have been in four wars in this century, and four times young Americans have gone abroad. We have done so without any idea of conquest or domination. We have lost hundreds of thousands of lives and we have not gotten a thing out of any of it. And we have helped each of our enemies, after each of the wars, get on his feet again.
Oh, we have made our mistakes. We make them now, for example, as we have made them in previous wars. But let me say this: Think for a moment. What other nation in the world would you like to have in the position of preeminent power? What other nation in the world that has what it takes would have the attitude that the United States has, as far as its foreign policy is concerned?
Here is a nation that did not seek the preeminent world position. It came to us because of what had happened in World War II. But here is a nation that has helped its former enemies, that is generous now to those that might be its opponents, a nation that, it seems to me, is one that the world is very fortunate, in a way, to have in a position of world leadership.
In terms of our domestic policies, I think we can truly say we have some problems. They are quite significant, and we like to look at those problems; not only look at them but we must work on them, and constantly see that America is revitalized, reinvigorated.
But as we look at those problems, the enormous strengths of this country can only be appreciated once you have seen other countries, great as they are, much as they have to offer, and come back and see what we have in America. I am not speaking of wealth, but I am speaking of freedom. I am speaking of opportunity. I am speaking of concern--concern that people have not only for people here but for people in other places.
When we presented the program on July 3, some of you who may have heard it will note that it was in the Archives Building. I am often asked, as I am sure many of you are who are in Washington, what is your favorite building? My usual answer is the Lincoln Memorial, particularly at night with the light shirting on the statue of Lincoln. But I would say that in terms of the most impressive building, impressive because it has the appearance of the ages there, it has to be the Archives--more impressive than the Capitol or the Lincoln Memorial or the Jefferson or the Washington or the White House itself.
These great marble columns give you the feeling of the past and also of what the Nation stands for, and you know that all the building is, is simply one that holds the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the great documents that started the Nation at the beginning.
Sometimes when I see those pillars I think of seeing them on the Acropolis in Greece. I think of seeing them also in the Forum in Rome, great, stark pillars--and I have walked in both at night, as I have walked down by the Archives at night from time to time.
I think of what happened to Greece and to Rome and, as you see, what is left-only the pillars. What has happened, of course, is that great civilizations of the past, as they have become wealthy, as they have lost their will to live, to improve, they then have become subject to the decadence which eventually destroys a civilization.
The United States is now reaching that period. I am convinced, however, that we have the vitality, I believe we have the courage, I believe we have the strength out through this heartland and across this Nation that will see to it that America not only is rich and strong, but that it is healthy in terms of moral strength and spiritual strength. I am convinced it is there. I am convinced as I talk to crowds of people. I am convinced as I see a group of young people, 500 of them, going off to Europe, as I saw them yesterday, from 50 States.
But I also know that people' need to be reassured. The people that can reassure them are opinion leaders, editors, television, radio commentators, teachers, even perhaps Presidents and politicians. At the present time, I will simply say in raising these problems, I don't raise them in any sense of defeatism; I don't raise them in the usual sense of pointing out that the United States is a country torn by division, alienation, that this is truly an ugly country, because I don't believe that.
I honestly believe that the United States, in its preeminent position of world leadership, has in its hands the future of peace in the world this last third of the century. I honestly believe that the United States has the destiny to play a great role, but I also know we cannot play it unless this is a healthy land, with a healthy government, a healthy citizenry, a healthy economy, and above all, the moral and spiritual health that can only come from the hearts of people and their minds, and that will only come as people are reassured from time to time, as we discuss our faults and as we correct our faults, reassured.
Keep them in balance. Don't let the problem of the moment obscure the great things that are going on in this country and the goodness of this country. It is that that I would suggest to the editors and the other opinion makers here: that from time to time, maybe once a month, that message might come through.