Remarks at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland
Thank you very much, Mr. President. Let me say how glad I am to be here at Johns Hopkins. I had a chance today to meet with some of the leaders in the Urban Studies Center and to meet downtown with some political leaders and then to meet with editors of the Baltimore Sun Newspapers and now to come here and be with you.
If it is suitable, I would like to speak for awhile, maybe 20 minutes at the most, about the matters that are important to me, and express, in general terms, the title of my talk, and then to answer your questions about the issues that I raise or others that might be of interest to you concerning political tactics or the nation's self—what it is or what it ought to be—or specific issues, domestic or foreign. I don't know the answers to all the questions, but I'll try to answer those that I do know clearly and without trepidation.
Sometimes it is hard for a speaker to overcome an introduction that is very good. When I was running for governor about 5 years ago, I visited the Wesleyan College campus. Wesleyan is the oldest women's college in the country. The campus is not used during the summertime, and we send to the campus the 400 brightest and most intelligent high school students that we can select each year by competitive examination for advanced study. The program consists of about 8 weeks. We call it die Governor's Honors Program, and it was a program that I devised as a Senator, and I've been there every year. One day out of each 8 week course we set aside for career training. We bring onto the college campus engineers, nuclear physicists, and scientists of all kinds, doctors, lawyers, nurses, airplane stewardesses, businessmen from different elements of our society to meet with small groups of the students to tell them about the future that they can expect, and to try to plan for them in their own minds, an orderly progress in their educational lives, so they won't shift from one course of study to another and waste their own brilliant minds and their parents' and the public's funds. I was invited to give the main address of the evening to encapsulate what they had learned that day about orderly planning of a life's career. I went to this banquet hall, and the young man who introduced me had done a great deal of research work on my background; and he got up and said how proud they were to have at that time Senator Jimmy Carter to come and tell them how to plan their life's career. He pointed out that I was born and raised in Plains, Georgia, that I had gone to Georgia Southwestern College where I had studied chemistry; then he pointed out that I had gone to Georgia Tech where I studied engineering, and then that I went to the U.S. Naval Academy where I was graduated with a degree in naval science, and then I did my graduate work in nuclear physics at Union College of Schenectady, New York; "And now," he said, "He grows peanuts for a living, and he is here to tell us how to plan our life's career." Well, my speech was over before I got the audience back.
In the last 2 years, I have visited all the states of the country except five; and I have talked to people, and I have listened to people, and I've been impressed with the diversity of interests and abilities and backgrounds and experience and educational achievements of the American people. Our country has been wounded, and we at this time are quite vulnerable in the national consciousness. I don't think the diversity of interests is the reason for our vulnerable state. I think each one of us individually has within us a wide range of interests and background. I have spelled out mine, and you have the same. Our responsibilities vary from one aspect of our lives to another. I happen to be a Christian and a father and a husband and an engineer and a planner, a businessman, and so forth. I know all of you have similar widely ranging interests. The things that bother our country right now are a few basic concerns.
One is that our federal government has lost its basic integrity, that there is no cohesive purpose to our national existence and that the standards of ethics and morality and openness and commitment to principle within our government doesn't measure up to that that exists in the individual citizens of this nation. I see no inherent reason why that should be the case. Our hope and our dream, our purpose in establishing this country, almost 200 years ago, was to create a governmental entity that expressed in the most effective degree the highest common ideals of a free people. And I see no inherent reason why a government should be less honest or less decent or less open or less understanding or less competent or less compassionate or less filled with love than the people it represents. But at this time there is that feeling among our people, a feeling of consternation, a feeling of disappointment, a feeling of trepidation about the future, a feeling sometimes of Shame and embarrassment.
There is another concern that is generic in scope but almost all pervasive and that is that our federal government doesn't have the competence or the ability to deal with the complicated and ever-changing problems and opportunities that confront our people. Is government competent, or can our federal government be efficient or economical? I think the answer to those questions are yes, government can be. Let me give an example from Georgia about why I say yes.
When I was elected governor, I entered that office, not as a politician but as a businessman and a long-range planner, as a farmer, as a scientist. The Georgia people were ready for a change. We had a hopelessly disorganized government. We were flailing around with trying to stress the purpose of our state. We had traumatic experiences immediately behind us and around us in establishing proper interrelationships between our black and-white citizens, between the rural and the urban areas of Georgia, the same kind of traumatic confrontations and concerns that exist now in the nation—very parallel.
We had 300 departments and agencies in our Georgia government. We abolished 278 of them, and we did that over the opposition of entrenched selfish interest groups who thrived on confusion and who over a period of years had carved out for themselves special niches of favoritism or privilege which couldn't be detected or changed by a generally apathetic public. We initiated for the first time in the history of the world, as far as I know, a new budgeting technique called zero-base budgeting, where for the last 4 years we have stripped down the Georgia government to zero each year; and we analyze very carefully every service delivery program in our state. The persons who do the analysis are the ones responsible for the actual delivery of service to the Georgia people at the local level, deep within a department; and on a one sheet, one page fold, with a ball-point pen they describe how many people work on that project, how many they would like to see working on it the next 2 years, how much money might be spent over that period of time, what their job is supposed to accomplish. Quite often embarrassing questions. How to measure the effectiveness of that service. Just to make them think, I require that they let me know how they would perform that function with a 15 percent cut in their budget, and then we ask them to say how they could perform their function better with no change in the budget, and then we take those analyses and arrange them in an order of priority and budget accordingly. This puts every program on an equal basis, regardless of whether it is 50 years old or 5 year old or just proposed for the first time next year. And, in effect, it turns the Georgia government upside-down and let's us see everything within it. We have a performance auditing group, inspectors-general of Nader's Raiders types, who go into our departments without being announced ahead of time and an analyze not how money is spent—that's an auditor's job—but how the service is delivered; and they make their 30 day or 3 month analysis of the interworkings of those departments and then make their report available to me, to the department head, and to the public simultaneously. It is a great inspiration for the departments to keep their own structures in order.
The last thing that we did, among others, is to establish specific written programs or purposes or goals in every realm of Georgian's lives so that we might know 2 years, 5 years, sometimes 20 or 25 years in the future what we hope to accomplish in transportation, mental health, physical health, alcoholism, drug treatment programs, education, prison reform, tax reform. In many instances, we put those 8-year programs or 5-year programs in law so that they can be implemented by the allocation of funds in succeeding years; but at least the people in our state now, the legislators, the academic personnel, the business leaders, know what we hope to do in Georgia.
The economy and efficiency of our state has been transformed. We cut administrative cost more than 50 percent. We passed a sunshine law that requires that every public deliberation or decision making meeting be open to the public; even conference committees between our House and Senate are now open to the news media. So that the people themselves have a feeling—and it is an accurate feeling—that they know what is going cm in their own government
So far as competence is concerned, government can work. It can be economical. It can be efficient. But I would like to remind you that nowhere in the Constitution of the United States nor in the Bill of Rights nor in the Declaration of Independence nor in the Old Testament or the New Testament do you find the words "economy" or "efficiency." You find other words that are much more important, words that describe the characteristics of a human being. Words like integrity and commitment and self-reliance. Words like decency and patriotism. Words like idealism. Words like compassion and love. And those are exactly die kinds of words that ought to describe government of people, who exemplify those characteristics. There oughtn't to be a lowering of standards for our government compared to the standards that we set in our own lives. And we obviously ought not to be more honest in Sunday school class than we are when we are delivering services to a customer, as a businessman. We ought not to be more compassionate as a governor of a state than we are in our own homes, dealing with our wives and children who we love. So the mediocrity comes in as kind of a dormant acquiescence in the slow lowering of standards. I don't , believe that these kinds of standards are acceptable to the American people; and with the shame of Watergate upon us, with deep economic concern about unemployment and inflation, the confusion of government, and with the advent of the 2OOth birthday of our country, I think there is going to be a reassessment by us individual Americans of what our government is and what it ought to be.
All of the things I have described to you in Georgia can be implemented in Washington. We ought to strip away secrecy. There is no reason to have deliberation of regulatory agencies or the House Appropriations Committee conducted in secret. There is no reason for our foreign policy to be concealed from the American people. There is no reason for the law to be broken or circumvented as the President makes a secret decision that the CIA can overthrow a foreign government against the law or can investigate American citizens against the law.
There is no reason for us to bomb a country like Cambodia, a complete deviation from what the American people want, with a decision made by a Secretary of State or of a President and deliberately misleading statements made even to the Congress.
Every time our nation has been in serious trouble internationally, it has been because the leaders of our nation have departed in secret from the policies the American people would have preferred had they known what was going on. I would favor the passage of a sunshine law in Washington, similar to what we have in Georgia and what Florida has there, requiring that, within narrowly defined rules and exceptions, all deliberations be made public.
There is another aspect of our government that concerns me and which we cannot accept as a permanently mediocre or below average achievement, and that is an effectuation of understandable policies. What is our nation's policy on energy? Acquisition, storage, processing, distribution? There is no policy. What is our nation's policy on agriculture or transportation or welfare or tax reform or national health? There are no policies. And this makes it almost impossible for governors, legislators, mayors, city councilmen, educators, private citizens, business leaders to join in a mutual effort to overcome a difficulty, to meet a need, to be inspired to make a sacrifice because we don't know the purpose of our sacrifice and we don't know the consequences or benefits to be derived from national sacrifice. There are no policies or goals to establish, no long-range planning techniques as an integral part of our society.
I'll answer questions on specific issues in a few minutes, if you have them.
Another point that I want to make as a scientist—in years gone by trends, environmental concerns, population explosions, food shortages, environmental deterioration, international trade concepts, could be dealt with in a slow and methodical way. Now, they can't. Things move too fast. They are too tightly interrelated. And we are approaching a crisis state in almost every one of those aspects of life.
In the past, leaders in politics have made decisions; and quite often they have called in the scientists or the engineers and said, "We have this problem, relating to war or space. Give me the answer to the problem." That's not the circumstance anymore. The future is pressing on us in such an inexorable way, in such a complicated interrelated way, that we need for political leaders to have an understanding of what is going to occur, inexorably and inevitably, on the one hand, and what options we still have open to us. We need to have analyses made by complicated procedures using electronic data processing, computer models, so that we can see what is the interrelationship between foreign trade, the quality of the ocean, environmental deterioration, utilization of energy, the wasting of commodities, food shortages—how can these be understood and assessed at the very time when the scientific community needs to have its energy harnessed just in the comprehension of possibilities of the future. At that very moment, President Nixon severed any ongoing relationship with the scientific community within the environs of the White House where basic decisions are made. We can't afford to have the scientific and academic communities removed from the long-range studies and the delineations of policies on which political leaders make decisions.
A couple more points I'd like to make.
There is only one nation in this world that has the stature and the ability to be the leader, and that is this country. If we don't assume a posture of leadership within the community of nations, there is no alternative to us. And other diplomatic and national leaders look to us with anticipation rapidly waning for a demonstration of leadership. We've lost the stature that we used to occupy in the community of nations. In some strange way that I don't understand we have modified our posture of antagonism and friendship. Formerly, we were struggling on the one hand, with Russia on the other, and the less developed countries were standing on the sidelines, benefiting from the advances of both us and Russia. Now we are on one side, the less developed countries on the other, struggling against us. Russia is standing on the sidelines, observing and benefiting from the advances of us both. How we got ourselves in this posture, I do not know; but it is true, and it grieves me to know that in a showdown in the United Nations we could possibly not get more than 10 percent of the votes. We can bypass the United Nations for awhile because we are strong enough to ignore it We have a veto in the Security Council. We can block any action against us, but still I don't like the proposition of knowing that the more weak and backward and defenseless and new a foreign nation is, the less likely their people are to say, "I want my future to be tied with the destiny of the American people." And that's the attitude we have. We have very few new countries to say, "I want my future tied with the future of the people of the United States."
There are some ways to restore this leadership, not based on military might, not based on economic force or political power, but based on one proposition; and that is that our country is right and fair and honest and decent and that we have a posture as a nation that warrants pride. I would like to see our nation take a position that the ultimate goal of the American people is a complete reduction of nuclear weapons for all nations to zero and work toward that ultimate goal in an open way, not secretly, but calling on Russia and other nuclear powers to join us in mutual, step-by-step, definitive reductions, not artificially lowering ultimate escalations. The Vladivostok agreement, for instance, is looked on as a kind of triumph for nuclear control. We now have 10,000 strategic nuclear weapons, not counting tactical nuclear weapons. The Vladivostok agreement lets us go to 18,000 so we are madly building four nuclear weapons a day, roughly, designed almost exclusively to kill civilian populations. We have 800 MIRV weapons. .Russia has zero. We can go to 1,320 something, so we are building toward that ultimate goal. I don't believe that accurately expresses what the American people are or want to be. We have, in addition to strategic weapons, tactical weapons, 7,000 in Europe alone, as a so-called nuclear deterrent, some of those very powerful, 500,000 tons of TNT in a tactical nuclear weapon. We have about 3,500 in other parts of the world and more than 200 military bases. Well, these things concern me; and the point is that in every one there has been a deviation, in my opinion, from the standards that American people would like to maintain. Who's responsible for it? The people in this country who have been blessed by God with superior capabilities or natural talent for opportunity to assume leadership roles, to shape opinion, to make decisions for other people, to establish a tone of ethics and morality—people like you and me in this room. The point is again that mediocrity is not an inherent part of American life, and a high standard can be restored to our government and to our own personal lives.
In order to illustrate the point, in closing, let me recount to you an episode that happened in my own life which I have adopted as a theme of my campaign. It involves a man I consider to be the most accomplished engineer of our nation, a man named Admiral Hyman Rickover. I worked for him for the last few years I was in the Navy. He is a man of great ability, great talent, great intelligence, great commitment—tactless, in some cases abusive. I worked for him for a long time, and he never said a decent word to me. He would come around to inspect my work at the Atomic Power Laboratory. If I had done a perfect job—not often, but every now and then—he never said a word. Never once in all the time I knew him did he say, "That was a good job, Jimmy," or "Congratulations, Lieutenant Carter." He'd just walk on. But if I had made the slightest mistake, which was most often the case, in one of the loudest and most obnoxious voices I have ever heard, he would announce what a terrible disgrace I was to the Navy, and I ought to be back on the oldest and slowest submarine, from which I had come. I remember the first time I met Rickover to be interviewed for the job. We met in a room about this size. There was a table in the middle and a chair on both sides, and it lasted 3% hours; and he never smiled, and he looked right between my eyes the whole time. And he let me choose any subject I wanted to talk about And I very carefully chose the subjects that at that time I knew the most about, music and literature and seamanship and navigation and so forth; and he would ask me questions of increasing difficulty until he proved in every instance that I didn't know anything about the subject I had chosen; and toward the end of the interview he asked me another question, and I finally felt I could redeem myself. He said, "How did you stand in your class at Annapolis?" And I swelled up my chest with pride—I had been to Georgia Tech 2 years before I went to Annapolis as a freshman, so I had done very well—and said, "Sir, I stood so-and-so in a class of 765." And I sat back to wait for the congratulations, which didn't come. I found out later he stood No. 1 in his class, and then he asked me another question He said "Did you do your best?" And I started to say, "Yes sir." But I remembered that part of the time I was at Annapolis was during the war, and I was just human. There were a lot of times when I could have learned a little more about our allies or our enemies or our weapons; and I finally gulped and told him the truth. I said, "No, sir, I didn't always do my best." And he looked at me for a long time, and he turned his chair around to end the interview. And he asked me one more question. I never have been able to forget it or think of a good answer. He said, "Why not?" I sat there for a few minutes, and then I got up and walked out of the room.
Well, mediocrity. As we reassess the problems we detect in our own life and in our own society and in our own government, as we approach the 200th birthday of our country, as we face another election on a national basis where issues can be discussed and where reaffirmations of principle and commitment might be possible, I think it is important for us to ask ourselves the question, that Rickover still asks every single officer who goes into an atomic submarine, and that question is for ourselves, for our nation, "Why not the best?" [applause]
I kind of skipped over some issues; but if you have any questions you want to ask me about politics or issues, I will be glad to try and answer them just briefly.
Q. At the club we went through, looking for various Presidential candidates to ask on campus and ran into different organizations and their efficiency or nonefficiency. You don't have, as far as I know right now, an office in Washington. Are you going to start one, are you going to start functioning in this area at all, are you getting organized in an effective way?
Governor Carter. Can you all hear the questions? Can you hear the question? OK. I don't intend to open an office in Washington at any time soon, not this calendar year. We have a campaign office open in Atlanta that we established December 12, 1974, when I announced for President. I have asked my staff, the same staff basically who worked with me the last 2 years as a national campaign chairman for the Democratic Party itself. During that time, I worked directly or indirectly—mostly directly—with more than 1,000 candidates who ran for Congress and for governor and for the U.S. Senate. My staff is young. We have six men and five women, and they are very experienced in politics. We have got a lot to learn. We've grown very quickly. I began to campaign full time on January 20, and I have already been in, I think, 24 states. I consider the Presidency of this country—I'm sure you would agree—to be the most important political office in the world. I think it is important enough to deserve my full-time commitment, and I have gotten my business in such a condition—it's a very profitable business— that I can leave and work full-time around this country. We will be growing in our staff capabilities as time goes on. I put a great burden on my staff because of my own travels. We have an enormous mail load to carry and a very difficult scheduling problem. For instance, this year, in 1975, I have scheduled 250 days outside of Georgia. This is a load for a staff back home. So I think our staff is learning. I would put it up in political competence against almost anybody else's, but it is always inherent in a campaign which is growing for the staff to b? inadequate. If a campaign has peaked and is going downhill, you've got more staff members than you need; and so far ours has been overworked, which I think is encouraging.
I look forward to the campaign. My intention is to enter all the primaries. You may or may not realize it, but at this time next year four of the primaries will have already been completed; and the election will be more than half over, in my opinion. The first campaign primary will be in New Hampshire the first week in March, the next week Florida, the next week Illinois, then we skip a week, then Wisconsin, and so on. One, two, three primaries a week until we have about 25, 26, or 27 primaries. And I want— I like this, I like this kind of campaigning. I think it is important that any Presidential candidate—I'll refer to myself only—be tested in the most severe way to let the American people assess my character, my strength, my weaknesses, my abilities, my stand on issues, so that they might make a judgment about me; and if I can measure up to what the American people expect or what they would like their government to be, as exemplified by the President, I will be elected. If I can't measure up—and I hope the standards are very high and not mediocre—then I don't deserve to be President. But at the present time I feel very confident. The other candidates who have announced don't frighten me. I intend to seek delegate votes in all the states. I'm going to enter the primaries, for instance, in Texas, which is the home of Lloyd Bentson. I will enter the primary in Alabama, which is the home of George Wallace. All of us will be in the Florida primary because you can't get your name off the list unless you take an oath that you are not a candidate, or don't intend to run for President in 1976. So Florida, the second week in April as presently scheduled, will be a very severe testing. But I think this personal contact with the people and the personal testing of the Presidential character of candidates is very important. And our staff will grow, and it will get more and more competent, but it will probably always be behind.if I keep moving fast enough.
Q. Governor Carter, in your concern about nuclear weapons across the world and the Russians? concern about the growth of American seapower, as our first step in moral leadership across the world, if you become President, would you then, for example, cut down on------
Governor Carter. No. I wouldn't. I think that we have got to assess in every instance how the expenditure of our public funds contributes to the effectuation of our domestic and international politics. One of the crucial vulnerabilities that our nation presently has is in keeping the sealanes open. As you probably know, during the October War or the Yom Kippur War in Israel, we had almost an impossible task in reaching Israel; and we also have a very vulnerable sealane maintenance capability as confronted by Russia. Six years ago, we had about 1,000 ships, Russia had about 600. Now we have 514 ships, and Russia has over 1,000. I think we are beginning to get ourselves in a vulnerable condition as compared to Russia just in the maintenance of our option to use the seas. So I would not cut back on those. I think the building of atomic submarines in a very slow evolutionary way is the best approach. I think one submarine per year is adequate. But I think that ultimately our major route of protecting this nation's existence has got to be the nuclear submarine program where, with a submerged platform, we can remain invulnerable to attack, even detection almost. I can't see any technological breakthroughs if we let the Russians detect the presence of our submarines in deep water. And this would be an adequate deterrent, in my opinion. But the escalation of vast quantities of nuclear weapons, to me, is counterproductive to the will of the American people. So I would keep a strong Navy because of the peaceful effectuation of our purposes.
Q. You spoke of the role of America you'd like to see in developing leadership capabilities, but yet you also speak of the bombing of Cambodia and the situation in Vietnam—I was wondering how you propose that this leadership role come about without inflicting any kind of harm on the stability of Third World governments? How would you propose that this leadership of America come about under your administration, as President?
Governor Carter. I'm not sure that I can give you adequate answers to any questions, but I'll do the best I can. I think it is counter to the American will and counter to a proper foreign policy of this nation to inject ourselves militarily into the internal affairs of other countries. I think it was a mistake for us to get involved in Vietnam at all. I think it was a mistake for us to get involved in Cambodia at all. In my judgment, Lon Nol does not have the support of the Cambodian people. If we put $1 billion into Cambodia, we would only continue to escalate the hardship and heartache and devastation of the country. I would provide, as President, if I were in office now, humanitarian allocation of funds for food and for drugs and for medicine and for some evacuation although I don't think evacuation would be a major role to be played in Cambodia. They are not a bloodthirsty or a murderous kind of people.
In South Vietnam—it was a mistake to get involved in Vietnam as was the case in Cambodia. We became involved so deeply there with the deliberate misleading of the American people about our prospects for victory and with the actual reports from Vietnam being modified or doctored substantially and deliberately. It was contrary to the American people's inclination, I think, to spend $150 billion in South Vietnam or to have 50,000 American young people lose their lives there. I would not at all increase the allocation of funds to South Vietnam. To my mind, that did not contribute to the leadership capability or the leadership status of our country around the world. It probably did more to damage the aspect of leadership for the United States than anything we have ever done in the history of our country.
[At this point the tape was garbled, then resumed as follows:]
I think that there is a strong need then for us to be reluctant to almost an extreme point to become involved in a military action within the boundaries of another country. We have many things that we can work on in a positive way—the alleviation of hunger. Our country is able to produce and also to join with other productive nations in the effectuation of adequate food supplies around the world. We can tell the truth about it. There are so many misconceptions that have been foisted upon the American people that is almost pitiful. Many, for instance, think that the importers of food are the poor countries. That is not true at all. The major importers of food are the rich countries.
Japan, to give you one statistical illustration, imports more food than China and India combined and has historically imported more food. I'm not criticizing Japan, but that just shows how distorted a subject can be. So food, population problems, environmental problems, freedom of trade, mutual support of the developing countries—these kinds of contributions, plus those toward world peace, toward the implementation of the humanitarian purposes of the United Nations, the sharing of responsibility for energy sources—these kinds of things are all open to us for leadership roles; and I think that this is the kind of thing that would be acceptable to the American people. I have great confidence in the judgment of our own people in this country; and if our foreign policy is effectuated publicly and if it can be the subject of public debate and if it has the support of the American people, I would pretty well trust that it is the proper foreign policy. But in my judgment, those two examples that you gave, very wisely, are completely different from what the American people wanted to see accomplished and is completely contrary to the national character of American people.
Q. On the domestic scene, in regard to the urban crisis, several representatives of the Ford Administration said that the urban crisis was largely passé based on the fact that we don't have any more serious racial problems as characterized by the riots of the sixties. First, Do you share the view that the urban crisis is passé and, second, if not, what do you see as some of the policies [to follow] . . .
Governor Carter. Good. I don't agree with that statement, of course. Sometimes it is forgotten that the public officials who are responsible for implementing and understanding the detailed mechanisms of federal programs are governors and mayors and city and county officials. The Members of Congress, once they pass a law 50 years ago or 45 years ago or whatever—they launch it on the sea of society like a ship without a rudder, and it bucks around and interferes with the normal effectuation of service delivery, and it is never monitored and it is never correlated with the new programs that are pushed out either for political expediency or to meet a legitimate current and transient need. We still have a very serious problem in urban affairs. The primary problem can be attributed to several things, but I'll give you just one economic problem. Whenever our nation's gross national product changes, a certain amount, let's just say 100 percent—it might take 10 years, it might take 50 years, it might taken or 3 or 4 years, a long time—100 percent—the federal government income with a stable tax base goes up 136 percent because of the progressive nature of our tax structure. The state income goes up about 100 percent, 96 to be exact Local government income, cities and counties, primarily cities, goes up only 72 percent; so there is a constantly growing chronic problem in local government's ability to finance their needed programs and service delivery systems. The federal government takes in twice as much new money as the local governments under any sort of economic growth circumstances. We don't need revenue sharing, in my opinion, from the federal government to states. What we need is revenue sharing from the federal government to the local government to deal with questions like crime control, recreation, health, welfare, environmental deterioration, and so forth, transportation.
These needs are not being met, and cities quite often, even well managed cities, and there are a few of them around the country, are getting in very serious financial circumstances. New York City is bankrupt. They are borrowing money now without any prospects for repayment, not just for capital construction projects but for operating expenses. Other cities are better managed, but there are some smaller cities that are in a very serious condition. One thing that is needed is a comprehensive policy on these various local responsibilities.
Let's just take transportation, for instance. There is no federal policy that any governor or mayor or urban studies group can comprehend or understand or help to effectuate because it doesn't exist.
What is the proper way to approach the shift from the use of coal, from the use of oil to the use of coal or the utilization of solar energy? We don't know in this country. A few scientists have studied it and analyzed it; but the only energy policy that our country has, for instance, is one that is being evolved in secret by the oil companies. They know . . . essence of a publicly expressed policy, the oil companies' policy ultimately becomes our nation's policy. For instance, they have leased, at a very low cost to them, massive areas of public lands, recreation lands, grazing lands, Indian lands, in the far West where the low quality coal deposits are. Now they want the federal government to orient all of our research and development funds into how to extract synthetic oil or gas from that low quality coal, lignite, and so forth. I think we ought to put it into thermal energy. But we don't have any policy that you can understand or toward which a local or state official can work.
Housing has been absolutely devastated, first of all by President Nixon's preemptory impoundment of all federal funds allocated for housing. Secondly, there is no comprehensive land use planning going on in this country; and a lot of it has been blocked by direct intervention of the White House itself.
So we do need to have comprehensive future policies and plans that local governments can utilize, allocations of federal funds in much more massive quantities to local governments to deal with urban crises; and we need to have some mechanism by which the business community, locating a future shopping center, the academic community with an input of brains and advice, can cooperate with local and state officials to plan for the future. None of those things do exist, and the urban problems do become more and more exaggerated.
There is one other point I want to make on that because it is a human problem, and that is that the best investment of federal money or state and local money, as far as returns on investment are concerned and also as far as stimulating the economy is concerned with new job opportunities, is when those investments are made in enhancing the quality of life of our people. In social programs, educational programs, health programs, environment improvement, recreation programs—that's when you get an immediate return and also enhance tremendously the number of people employed for $1 million expended. The interrelationships among our people are sometimes exacerbated by a lack of planning and a lack of intelligent federal action.
We have made great strides in the South, including Maryland, of course, in the proper interrelationships between our black and white citizens. Our schools where I live are absolutely and completely integrated, and we faced dire predictions of catastrophe, as you well know; and we've reaped great benefits. Our black citizens have been liberated, as they sing about it in their songs, but the people who have been liberated the most are the white leaden and the white citizens of those communities who were saddled for years with an albatross around our neck of preoccupation with the race issue. I live in a little town that only has 600 people in it, about 250 of us are white, about 350 of us are black. The name of it is Plains, Georgia, about 135 miles south of Atlanta. My daughter, Amy, who is 7 yeas old, who came to me and my wife after we had been married 21 yeas—she's our only daughter—goes to the second grade at Plains Grammar School. She has a black teacher and she has a white principal. She has 8 white classmates and 22 black classmates. She is getting an excellent education. She can read the New York Times [laughter], or die Baltimore Sun, excuse me; so, you know, we have made great strides socially, but there are some aspects of our service delivery program that are still devastating in their impact on the poor people and particularly those that are both poor and belong to a minority group. In health planning, in die welfare systems, we find disgraceful circumstances.
I'd like to make one more point I'm over answering your question. But one thing we ought to remember is that the people like you and me at the peer group level who make governmental decisions very rarely have a personal experience with government programs concerning public health, welfare, or mental retardation, unemployment compensation, prison reform, and others, even education. We can avoid the public school system if we want to because we probably are financially able to take our kids out of a public schools system, if we choose, and put them in a private school system. So we need to make sure that as we devise a comprehensive welfare system, which will be done, if I am elected, that we abolish the—we've got more than 100 different existing federal welfare programs. We've got a welfare worker for every five recipients of welfare payments. I think of all the people I know the welfare workers are my favorite. They are compassionate and idealistic and they devote their lives to social programs and the alleviation of affliction. But they don't deal with the alleviation of affliction. They are bogged down in an office shuffling papers, trying to determine the technical or legal eligibility of varying kinds of recipients to draw benefits from those 100 different programs. So there is a possibility of our country devising a fair welfare program, filled with love and respect and concern and also fair to the taxpayer. I think this country is strong enough, able enough to do it, and the same in health. I wish you could go where I live and see the problems there. The county where I am from doesn't have a doctor or a dentist, and there are some things that need to be done.
I'll answer the rest of the questions very briefly, I promise you. Yes.
Q. Any more Rickover stories?
Governor Carter. No. Yeah, I've got plenty of them. It would take me all day to tell stories about Rickover. Yes, sir.
Q. When you succeeded so spectacularly in reducing the [government] in the Georgia administration, what was the ratio of the personnel?
Governor Carter. Ratio of personnel. Well, in the first place, in order to overcome the inherent opposition that existed among the heads of those 278 agencies and among many of the legislators and among the special interest groups, I had to go directly to the people; and after we got our plan devised, I said, "This is the horrible mess we have now," and it was very embarrassing—not as bad as it is in Washington, but bad. "This is what we can have, a very simple, clear, workable organization. These are the steps to get there and the benefits to be derived." And I marshalled the support of the Georgia people. One obstacle that I did not have to overcome was among our merit system employees. All the Georgia employees in our state government are under the merit system, with very, very minor exceptions. So I promised the merit system employees—and I would promise the federal career employees also—that I wouldn't fire anybody as a result of reorganization. We simply did not replace vacancies. If we had two vacancies in a department, we would rehire one person; or sometimes when a person retired or transferred, they didn't leave any vacancy. So what we did was try to assess where people were needed. In our Transportation Department, for instance—I happen to be an engineer—we could see some very clear ways to save personnel.
Two years ago, we had 9,600 people in our Transportation Department, 9,600. Now we have 7,500. So we have had a 25 percent reduction in that department over a 2 year period, and the department is working much better, much more efficiently; and the engineers are doing engineers' work, and so forth. In another department—I'll give you one more example—we had a slight increase in personnel in our Human Resources Department. When I was elected, it was the standard procedure to put all our mental health patients in institutions and lock them up there and to keep them there the rest of their lives at an enormous cost to our taxpayers. We had over 12,000 patients in our Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. Now we have less than 5,000, and we have taken those, retarded children and others out of Milledgeville's hospital and put them in 136 mental health centers around the state that my wife helped set up. We've employed there some registered nurses, LPN's, retired school teachers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, volunteers, and welfare mothers, who bring their kids to the retardation center; and if they show an interest, we teach them how to teach their children to go to the bathroom, put on their clothes, to feed themselves, to sweep the floor, make up beds, put gasoline in the car if their daddy runs a service station, and so forth. So in some areas, we have increased personnel. In others, we have decreased it. But the administrative cost of government has been cut more than 50 percent; and if I am elected, I'll do the same thing in Washington.
It'll be easier to do it in Washington than it was in the state for several reasons, which I won't go into now; but if you think about it, you'll see that the President has a much clearer voice, much more authority; and the people are hungrier for it now on a nationwide basis even than they were in Georgia 4 years ago, on a state basis.
Q. What role do you think the United States should play in the Mideast?
Governor Carter. In the Mideast, our nation should play a major role. I've been there. I have a personal and deep commitment to Israel. I'm familiar with the Israeli leaders. Mr. Rabin is a personal friend of mine and my wife. He has visited us in Atlanta. I've visited him in Israel. Mrs. Meir, and Mr. Eban and others know me very well, and I know them. I've traveled around Israel to learn about the circumstances there. I may be somewhat biased, but I try not to be. I've talked with others recently, and I think we have a good chance of eventually achieving peace in the Mideast. I think that we ought to have—and I expressed this on the day that I announced—a profession to the world that we have a bipartisan, national commitment to the preserving of the integrity of Israel as a nation, so that everybody understands this interrelationship and so there is no doubt about it There are many elements of the Middle Eastern circumstance that will be elements of an eventual solution, and I'll explain it in very broad brush terms.
First of all, Israel has got to withdraw from most of their occupied territories. If I were the head of Israel, I would not relinquish the Golan Heights, and I wouldn't give up old Jerusalem; but I'm not going to try to write the terms here now. We do have to have an access for the Moslem worshippers to their holy places in old Jerusalem without crossing Israeli territory, either with a route from the Jordan River from the east or because of partial retention of old Jerusalem by the Israelis. We have to have a recognition of the Palestinian people and their right to exist as an independent people, occupying territories that will be laid out later, mostly on the west bank of the Jordan. The Prime Minister himself proposed this before he was Foreign Minister, back in 1973, as you may remember. There has to be in return for all this a recognition of Israel's right to exist as a free and peaceful nation, by us, by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, hopefully Syria, the NATO countries, and hopefully Russia, so that Israel can start again to prepare their country and just to live as a free country. And I think those are roughly the boundaries that have to be spelled out in the future in the Middle East. I might say that at the ambassadorial level, some of the Arab countries that I have mentioned to you agree; and at the higher level, a good many of the officials of Israel agree that that is roughly the outline of what will occur in the Middle East in the future.
Let me say that I think we have a very good working relationship with the OPEC nations. I would certainly not go to war as a preemptive strike if they cut off our oil supply. I think we have now gotten to the point where they recognize that they must cast their lot jointly, at least, with us and Russia. They have fiddled around with Russia, and they have seen the insidious nature of Russia's coming into the OPEC nations individually as a major power.
So I think they are going to be very careful to retain their friendship with us. I think we ought to be very careful to keep our friendship with Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, all of them who will meet us halfway.
They tell me that our time is up. I don't have any objection to answering one more question, but that would be all I have. Is that all right? One question.
Q. Yes, Governor, On the word that you use, understanding, do you think the failure—regardless of whether the decision was correct or whatever you go into—do you think the decision to not honor whatever commitments we have made will create some kind of vacuum in world relationships and the understanding or the misunderstanding of American foreign policy in relationship to possibly increasing the tension or increasing the possibility of war?
Governor Carter. I don't think so. You know, that would depend upon whether or not we ever evoke for world understanding a clear delineation of what our foreign policy is. I know Secretary Kissinger very well personally. I think he is a brilliant man. I won't go into all the details of it, but he and his wife are both good friends of ours. I've had long discussions with him. I've seen his actions in a very effective way, for instance, among all the foreign ministers of the Organization of American States; and I've met with him at length to discuss things like the Vladivostok Agreement and the Middle East treaties and the OPEC nations' investment of funds in our country. He depends too much on secrecy. I think he sometimes goes to extremes and fails to tell even official inquisitors about the full aspects of our foreign policy commitments. I think he has certainly been a part of the concealing of the bombing of Cambodia. I think he is much too inclined to get involved in the internal affairs of foreign countries, and I think he spends too much time outside of this country. I think, with the exception of the Middle East, it would be better for us if Secretary Kissinger stayed here.
But I'd like to say this in his defense. He's had placed on his shoulders more responsibility than ought to be on the shoulders of any Secretary of State; because for all practical purposes the last 2 or perhaps 3 years he has had to act as both President and Secretary of State in foreign affairs. He's had to devise in his own mind what our foreign policy ought to be, either correctly or incorrectly. He's had to negotiate with foreign governments a mutual understanding about their foreign policy, and then he's had to effectuate it And that's too much to put on any person. And now he's reaping the harvest. He took on that responsibility very willingly, knowing his nature, as you can well imagine; but now everything that goes wrong in the Middle East is suddenly being blamed on Kissinger. And I just expressed my disaffection with some of the things he has done, but I think that, if, after we withdraw our participation from Cambodia and Vietnam, we could spell out to the world what our policies are, as has been done often in the past— it is not an incomprehensible thing to do—then I think it would not result in any blow to our country to its prestige or otherwise. I think if our country could restore its basic character, as a nation, to exemplify, as I said before, the character of the American people, then we could again retain a position as the leader in the community of nations with the respect and appreciation of other countries. But right now we are looked on as a warmonger. We are looked on as a liar. We are looked on as an intervener in the internal affairs of other countries. And those things are much more serious than any consequences of our withdrawal now from a fallen government in Cambodia...
Jimmy Carter, Remarks at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347744