What has happened here in Amsterdam is typical of what has happened in many parts of the Nation - particularly in our older communities - including my own area of New England. It can be called the result of old age - economic old age - economic hardening of the arteries. It affects older cities with older industries, older neighborhoods, older people. But like most illnesses, it should have been prevented; and it can be cured.
Economic arteriosclerosis has been allowed to slow down and cripple scores of communities that once ranked as economic pacesetters in the Nation. These communities pioneered in textile production, in railway development, in better education, and in better working conditions. Now they are being made to pay the price.
Company after company has been drawn away. Worker after worker has found himself jobless. Town after town has seen its buildings decay, its revenues dwindle, its public services decline, its water polluted.
The loser is the whole Nation. For in these communities are bottled up some of our most skillful hands and fertile brains - undoubted assets in the struggle now facing the Nation.
For 8 years the Republicans have turned a deaf ear to the crying need to revitalize these areas. Twice the President has vetoed depressed area bills that would have given them an important lift. Programs to renew our cities, to replace dilapidated schools, to encourage new business to train new skills have all been blocked or downgraded. Every area suffers. But our older areas suffer most of all.
The next Democratic administration must make revitalization of these declining areas an urgent order of business.
First, we will repass, and I will sign, the depressed areas bill making available special funds to areas of long-term unemployment.
Second, we will pass, and I will sign, a bill raising the minimum wage to $1.25 an hour, to make certain that areas with a longer history of industrial development will not be unjustly penalized in their effort to hold on to existing businesses.
Third, we will pass, and I will sign, legislation to help cities and towns combat water pollution - to enable these stricken communities to reclaim a resource precious for both industrial use and better living conditions.
Fourth, we will enact new programs for the construction of new schools, new hospitals, and new highways, for urban renewal and for other measures to enable these communities to begin the physical rebuilding job that must precede rebirth.