The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Butler, PA
October 15, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Congressman Frank Clark, who has served this district well and also served the United States; Senator Joseph Clark, my friend and colleague in the U.S. Senate; your distinguished Governor, Gov. David Lawrence, members of the Pirates baseball team [laughter], ladies and gentlemen, the Pirates have the biggest squad in the United States, about 10 million people. [Laughter.]

I come here today as the Democratic candidate - can you hear? Can you hear the word "Democratic" out there? [Response from the audience.] Then we are all tuned in. I shouldn't really make a Democratic speech outside of that wonderful hotel. [Laughter.]

I run as the Democratic candidate and I know that it seems to me that in this election all of us as Americans face two different sets of opportunities and two different sets of problems. One, I believe, is the responsibility of all of us, those of us who serve in the Congress, those of us who may serve in the Presidency or in the executive branch, to bring up to date, to make modern, those programs which have been part of our political life, part of our national life, for 20 or 25 or 30 years. In other words, to pass a minimum wage bill which brings wages up to date. The first minimum wage bill in 1935 was 25 cents an hour. So you cannot say that everything that had to be done was done in the Roosevelt administration or in the Truman administration or in the Eisenhower administration. Every administration and every 3 or 4 years, this country has to recognize that we must move ahead. So there is one set of opportunities which will be open to the next President and the next Congress, minimum wage of $1.25 an hour, medical care for the aged tied to social security, aid to education, stimulation of housing, urban renewal. These are all programs which have been part of our life for a great many years, really since Franklin Roosevelt's first administration. But there are a second set of opportunities and a second set of problems which are entirely new, which are new to our time, which were never thought of in the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, or President Eisenhower, and it is to these problems that I think we should devote particular attention now.

One is the problem of automation. It is going to be a problem for every citizen of the country, as it has been a problem for every citizen of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania relies on two industries basically: coal mining and steelmaking. Both of these industries have experienced automation, and it is the reason that there is unemployment of 9 percent in this general area of these counties in western Pennsylvania, 9 percent. You have not really recovered in a very real way in the State of Pennsylvania from the recession of 1958. Your steel mills in this State are working at 50 percent of capacity, and yet they produce almost as much steel as they did in 1952 and 1951. The reason is automation. And what is true of steel is true of coal. There are literally a half million people, 750,000, in the State of Pennsylvania that get food packages from the Government every month. They amount to 5 cents a day per person to keep them alive, and many of them are people who worked in the coal mines. Those coal mines are mining more coal than they ever mined before in history. But they don't need the people because 1 machine has taken the job of 10 men.

So I would say of the new problems which were not problems years ago, but which are going to be problems in the sixties, I would say one is automation. The second problem is economic growth, which we talk about so much but which means whether your children are going to get jobs. We have to get 25,000 new jobs a week every week for the next 10 years in order to have full employment in the United States, and we do that at a time when machines are taking the jobs of men.

Therefore, my criticism of this administration in this area has been that for the last 8 years we have moved ahead each year, growing at about 2.5 percent each year. The Soviet Union grows at about 7.5 percent each year. Western Germany grows at about 5 to 6 percent a year. Italy grows from 4 to 5 percent a year. France about 4 percent a year. We had the lowest rate of economic growth last year, 1959, not a depression year, of any major industrialized society in the world. And unless we move ahead, unless we can stimulate our economic growth, there are not going to be jobs. There are going to be more and more machines and fewer and fewer jobs. That is why I believe that this is an entirely new time that is coming out in 1961, 1962, 1963. The problems are entirely changing.

The old slogans, the old battles still have to be fought but the problems in many ways are going to be new. The third problem, of course is the kind of image which we present abroard. I criticized this administration as a citizen and as the standard bearer of the opposition party, because I believe in the last few years the United States has ceased to present an image of an advancing and vigorous society to a watching world. You know for the last 8 years we have not had in the Voice of America a single Spanish-speaking program to all of Latin America, for the last 8 years. Do you know we brought more foreign students to study here 10 years ago, by the U.S. Government, than study here today.

At the time of the Congo crisis in June, in the whole of the Congo there were only 12 college graduates and 7 or 8 million people. We offered them 300 scholarships. That is more scholarships than we offered to all of Africa the year before.

Do you know that with the Voice of America, our radio broadcasts, we are fourth in the world now? Moscow is ahead of us, China, Peiping is ahead of us, Radio Cairo in Egypt - more broadcasts come from Radio Cairo than from the Voice of America. We had in 1959 last year - in 1957, we had more of our foreign service personnel stationed in Western Germany than in all of Africa. We did not even have a Bureau of African Affairs until 1957, and Africa contains one-fourth of all the votes in the General Assembly now. So I don't believe that this administration and our country has recognized its responsibilities that the world is changing as fast as it is.

Mr. Castro is only a symptom. He is not a freak. He is the kind of problem we are going to face in country after country in the next 10 years. Ghana and Guinea in Africa, newly independent 2 years ago, both vote with the Soviet Union in the United Nations.

It isn't going to be just Guinea and Ghana and Cuba, but we are going to meet that problem in every country in the world in the future. Unless young leaders in those countries feel that we are on the move, that the future belongs to the free world, that the Communist system which is as old as Egypt is finally going to collapse. If they feel that they are moving, that they have the solutions to the future, and we are standing still, then they would decide that there is the direction they ought to go and not with us.

Let me make it clear. I think this is a great country. I have served it for 14 years in the Congress and in the service 4 years before that. But I believe that if we are going to maintain our strength, if we are going to maintain not only our freedom but the freedom of all those who look to us, we are going to have to do better, and that is the issue of this campaign. [Applause.]

And it is serious. Those of you who are Republicans, those of you who are Democrats, and those of you who are independent should understand this is not a personal controversy between Mr. Nixon and myself. We represent two political views of the direction our country should take, two different views of the needs of our time. You have to decide as voters which is your view, with which philosophy do you wish to be associated, which comes closest to meeting your decisions as to what your needs are. Those who run for office on the slogans that we never had it so good, who say our prestige has never been higher, who say that our strength is growing, who say that the balance of power is moving with us, if you decide that then you should vote for Mr. Nixon. But if you take the view which I take, and I take it as a dedicated citizen of this country, that the balance of power is not shifting in our direction, that our economy is not growing as fast as it must, that we are not catching the imagination of the people around the world, that we do not give the appearance of a society on the move, then I ask your help in this campaign. That is the issue. Thank you. [Applause.]

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Butler, PA", October 15, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74040.
 
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