A Call to Economic Arms
By Paul Tsongas
Paul Tsongas should have been the Democratic nominee in 1992, but due to the unethical politics of DNC chairman Ron Brown and his chosen candidate it is was not to be. The later likely led to the ethical lapses of the late 90’s and the early 21st century in the business world because people are a product of their environment. Paul passed away in 1997. I post the text of this book in the hope that his ideas and legacy can survive and eventually be implemented by a candidate who is thoughtful, compassionate and an agent of change. I hope that day can happen soon so that Paul can smile down on us all!
Paul E. Tsongas
Foley, Hoag & Eliot
One Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109
I. Economic Survival – The Creation of National Wealth………. 4
II. Education – The Meeting House of Our Society…………….. 26
III. The Environment – Equilibrium With Earth………………… 31
IV. Energy, Fossil Fuels – Someday There Won’t Be Any………… 39
V. Foreign Policy – Time to Heal Thyself…………………… 49
VI. The Culture of America – The Essential Need……………… 59
VII. Return to Purpose…………………………………….. 72
America is greatness. It is the pursuit of excellence and the
fulfillment of human capacity. America is not the casual acceptance of
economic decline and social disintegration. Yet, that is what some are
prepared to endure. We are better than what we are being asked to be by
our leaders. We are a nation of goals, not a nation of limits. We must
have leadership that is committed to world pre-eminence in the strength
of our economy, in the cohesion of our society, and in the quality of
our environment. To accept anything less is to do violence to the two
centuries of our history.
America is not just another country. It is not just another
place. It is the embrace of fundamental human values that define what
man can become. America is “We The People” as respectful keepers of the
sacred trust that was forged by the blood and hardships of those who
came before us. America has been bequeathed to us. It is a living
heritage meant for us to preserve and then bequeath to other Americans,
yet unborn and yet proven to be worthy.
Today, that heritage is under attack.
Its restoration is the great challenge of our generation.
This is the mandate to which we must now attend.
America faces great economic peril as our standard of living is
threatened by Europe 1992 and the Pacific Rim. Once the world’s
greatest economic power, we are selling off our national patrimony as we
sink ever deeper into national debt. The Reagan-Bush years have seen us
become the world’s greatest debtor nation. America is also witnessing
the weakening of its social fabric as more and more families dissolve
under the onslaught of a culture that glorifies the immediate and the
shallow. As our historic values are disregarded by today’s
society-in-a-hurry, the civility of America has been lessened. Finally,
America is adrift as our leaders flinch from the difficult decisions
that will safeguard us from the energy and environmental threats that
confront us. This nation’s will is not being called upon on the home
front because of a fear that our people are not ready for an honest and
forceful response to these threats. I strongly disagree.
The purposeful avoidance of difficult issues caused serious
erosion to our society in the eighties. The eighties, fortunately, are
over. The icon of indulgence that we worshipped during that decade has
proven to be a false god. However, it has left behind a legacy of
comfort and ease and the pursuit of self. That legacy is not what
America is all about. That legacy contravenes the values of our
ancestors. These forebearers created a nation with an enduring work
ethic, a sense of personal discipline, and an acute appreciation of the
common good. They had a sense of purpose that gave meaning to their
lives and strengthened their nation. They defined patriotism as what
they did, not what they avoided doing.
They left that sense of purpose and that patriotism to our
keeping. We have set it aside.
America is asking us to return to that purpose. The time has
come for a New American Mandate, based on the precious values of the
past but focused on a vision of the future. The New American Mandate is
a positive response to America under siege. Saddam Hussein is an
acknowledged threat, but he is not the only one. Just as we deploy our
men and women in the Persian Gulf, we must deploy every American to stop
our economic bleeding, to restore our social fabric, and to meet head on
the environmental and energy threats to our well being.
We must all be soldiers – everyone of us. Our men and women in
the armed forces demonstrate their love of country by facing possible
death in the sands of the Arabian peninsula. We must be prepared to
love our country as well in our every day deeds and our every day
America in 1991 needs our total devotion. This paper is meant
to provide the battle plan to deploy that devotion in a way that will
strengthen the nation we love.
The 1992 Democratic Mission
The mission of the Democratic Party in 1992 would normally be to
put one of its own in the White House. But these are not normal times.
What our country needs is not just a President – but a President
with the necessary mandate. In many respects the mandate to correctly
change our course is more critical than which party will oversee that
change from the White House.
One thing is clear. Democrats must avoid, at all costs,
emulating the “Pledge of Allegiance/Willie Horton/Read My Lips” campaign
of George Bush. That campaign was designed to win in November, not
govern in January. There was no attempt to seek a mandate except, of
course, the one on taxes which everyone knew was a cynical ruse. The
rest was all hot button politics. It was philosophy by polling data.
So George Bush rules, and the nation is without a sense of
direction. His media consultants patted themselves on the back, pleased
with a victory that would enhance their professional reputations.
Having had no interest in creating a prevailing wind, the White House
now acts as a spinning weathervane. The Persian Gulf is addressed but
all else remains set aside. The country looks for some sign of the
“vision thing,” but to no avail.
We Democrats, of course, could do the same thing.
Winning would be thrilling as all victories are. But on January
20th the issues would be no less real. Perhaps our Democrat could be
fortunate like Ronald Reagan and escape before the consequences of his
policies were fully realized. But if that is our offering, why would
the American people substitute one army of “feel-good” salesmen for
Let us use 1992 to articulate the cold challenges and the real
threats to America that came before Saddam Hussein and will remain after
Saddam Hussein. Let us seek to rally our nation to forcefully address
these issues. Let us create a mandate, a mandate that will allow
purposeful and effective governance.
Without such a mandate, the White House will be a prison. And
the President will be captive to economic and social forces he cannot
control. With a mandate, the fortunes of America will truly brighten
because the people will be deployed with purpose.
This is the New American Mandate we must create.
It requires the re-emergence of America as the world’s
pre-eminent economic power. It calls upon America to lead the fight for
world environmental equilibrium. It demands that, once and for all, we
achieve energy sufficiency. It seeks the repairing of the American
social fabric so that we are spiritually one community. It positions
America as the critical partner in achieving world peace but based upon
the principles of true burden sharing.
If we Democrats cause that to happen, we will have truly served
our country, no matter who wins the election.
The White House and a mandate. Both or neither. Let’s get on
This paper will address six of the issues around which the
strength of our nation revolves. They are:
* Economic Survival
* Foreign Policy
* Our Cultural Fabric
My views reflect my ten years on Capitol Hill, my observations
these past six years in the private sector, and my earlier experiences
living outside the United States.
I. Economic Survival: The Creation of National Wealth
There is no reason why the United States should not be the
pre-eminent economic power on earth. No reason whatsoever. We have the
land, the resources and the people. What we lack is the leadership.
Our political leadership has chosen to ignore difficult economic
realities. It has, instead, decided to finance short-term avoidance by
placing the nation under crushing and unsustainable debt. As a result,
America is facing great economic peril. We are daily witnessing this
ever-mounting national debt, the inexorable sale of America to foreign
interests, and the steady deterioration of our capacity to compete in
the global marketplace.
Yet, the alarm remains unsounded. Washington is recession
proof. The rest of the country, however, is not. Washington talk about
“it’s morning in America” rings hollow in communities devastated by
failing industries. To them it’s high noon. Bravado talk about “we can
out-compete, out-produce and out-sell” any country in the world without
change in our national economic policies is a self-serving delusion.
Washington politicians should experience service on corporate
boards of companies that are trying to compete internationally. They
should have their financial survival riding on a startup business
struggling under the burden of the high costs of American capital. They
should have close relatives seeking to manage companies under the
quarterly gaze of Wall Street vultures and getting battered by foreign
companies whose investors think in terms of years. They should watch a
son or daughter sell off technological genius to the Japanese or Germans
or Swiss because no American company is interested.
This is what is happening outside the Beltway.
America’s manufacturing base is under attack and Washington
treats it as just another issue.
It is not just another issue. It is the issue. This problem is
our collective kryptonite. An ever less competitive manufacturing base
inevitably means cataclysmic erosion of our standard of living. If we
are reduced to just flipping hamburgers and exploiting our raw
materials, we will have an economy, but it will be a diminished economy
of decline and defeat. The American people would never stand for such a
prospect. As the recent MIT report on competitiveness put it, “In order
to live well, a country must produce well.” This is the slogan which
should sit on the President’s desk.
It would perhaps be useful to put numbers on this concern.
There are three major indices that tell the tale – the number of persons
employed in manufacturing, our balance of trade and the federal budget
Manufacturing employment: The United States today has only 17% of its
total workforce in manufacturing, down from 26% in 1970. If defense
industries are removed, we have only 15%. The Germans have 33% of their
companies in manufacturing and the Japanese have 28%.
During the 1970’s, the United States paid its production workers
the highest wages in the world and still maintained a positive balance
of trade. Today, nine other nations pay higher wages, yet our trade
balance is chronically negative.
Over the past five years, our average trade balance has been
$133 billion negative while the Germans have averaged $61 billion
positive. Yet, the Germany average production wage and benefits is
$18.02 per hour compared with $13.92 in the United States.
Overall productivity in this country grew at over 3% per year
from 1960 to 1973 but has risen by only 1% per year since then.
The average weekly earnings of the private nonagricultural
workforce grew (in 1984 dollars) from $262 in 1949 to $336 in 1959 to
$387 in 1969. Since then, it has declined to $376 in 179 and $335 in
Balance of Trade: Hard as it may be to believe, the United States used
to be a net exporter. In 1960 we had a net balance of trade surplus of
$2.8 billion. In 1970 it was a surplus of $2.3 billion. In 1980 it
stood at a surplus of $1.1 billion. The 1980’s have seen deficits
steadily grow. In 1990 our trade deficit totalled over $95 billion.
This deficit accumulation totals some $910 billion since 1980.
What does this mean? It means that $910 billion of our wealth has been
transferred to someone else – either by resources leaving this country
or by foreigners buying up America. At the current rate we will either
be in total hock to the outside world or the outside world will own us.
In contrast, the same timeframe saw Japan net a balance of trade
surplus of $57 billion in 1989. (And this despite the fact that it is
far more dependent on imported oil than we are.) Germany enjoyed a
surplus in 1989 of $55 billion. These two countries lost World War II
but they are the clear victors in the global economic wars of the
Again, this massive bleeding of America’s economic base should
galvanize a fierce collective response with Washington in the lead.
Check your local newspapers to see when it was last mentioned and on
which page it was printed. This is avoidance politics at its most
Federal budget deficit: Someday, teachers of political history will
relate the rhetoric and reality of the Reagan-Bush economic era. They
will talk of two Republican conservatives who successfully bashed
Democrats as wild spenders. They will speak of these two leaders
adamantly calling for a Constitutional Amendment to force a balanced
federal budget. They will recall the constant rhetoric of the need for
the federal government to match expenditures with incomes “like every
American household.” The students will readily understand the sheer
power of this political approach.
Then the teacher will provide numbers.
All forty presidents before Reagan ran up a combined national
debt of $994.3 billion. Reagan-Bush alone added another $2,623.5
The much criticized Jimmy Carter ran an average budget deficit
of $57 billion. George Bush has averaged $245 billion.
George Bush in the FY 1990 budget alone ran a deficit greater
than the deficits of Democratic Presidents Carter, Johnson, Kennedy and
The students will not believe the teacher. How could this be,
they will ask? How could Reagan and Bush have gotten away with
balanced-budget rhetoric at a time of massive budget deficit realities?
How could they lull the American people into accepting such staggering
debt without widespread revolt?
More pointedly, they will ask, why did people allow this
enormous accumulation of debt which now burdens their generation? This,
of course, raises the pointed question of generational morality.
In FY 1991 the interest on the federal debt is $197 billion. By
the year 2000, it is expected to reach 25% of the entire federal budget.
This reality is morally reprehensible. It is the record of the
The Democratic response must, above all, seek to reestablish our
manufacturing capability at, or above, that of the Japanese. The
Republicans, of course, have carefully avoided the articulation of any
Some of them argue that the decline in our manufacturing base is
acceptable because it will be replaced by a service-based economy. This
is the avoidance politicians’ drug of choice. There is no such thing as
being a major financial center in the world without a vibrant
competitive manufacturing sector. Again, numbers tell the story. The
largest American bank is Citicorp. In 1970 it ranked 2nd worldwide.
Chase Manhattan Bank was ranked 3rd. In 1980 they ranked 5th and 11th,
respectively. Today, they rank 24th and 54th. Sixteen Japanese banks
rank ahead of our biggest. In major financial transactions we are, in
effect, dropping from the radar screen. It is no accident that the
world’s six largest banks are now Japanese. The Germans and French also
have major banking entities and they are resolute in emphasizing
manufacturing. A nation without a manufacturing base is a nation
heading toward third world status. So much for morning in America.
This economic silent spring is a disgrace. Yet, no word of
alarm escapes from George Bush. “Read my lips, add more debt.”
Our forefathers labored mightily to establish America as the
pre-eminent economic power on earth. We have allowed the fruits of
their labors to be sold off to foreign buyers, one national treasure
after another. We accept enormous trade deficits month after month,
year after year, with hardly a murmur. We treat the staggering federal
deficits as inevitable results of political gridlock. It’s time we
faced up to our peril.
This is where democracies rely upon the courage of their elected
leaders. The normal political instinct is to always engage in happy
talk. It is courage which allows a politician to take a people beyond
that. It takes toughness to lead a people toward their preservation no
matter how disquieting the journey may be. For avoidance of unpleasant
reality is simply part of human nature.
I learned that lesson once more in the aftermath of my cancer
diagnosis in 1983. I found myself wishing for soothing reassurance, but
what I needed was tough love. Not feeling ill, I wanted to just go home
and live a normal life and not deal with the disease until I absolutely
had to. For a while that’s what I did. And it was possible to push
away the awareness of the realities inside of me.
By 1985, however, I was put on mild oral chemotherapy. This was
done in hopes of avoiding the more toxic intravenous drugs. And I knew
that after that would come radiation. And after that, perhaps, would
come the still experimental bone marrow transplant. I even put myself
on a macrobiotic diet in search of an effortless deliverance. My doctor
was not impressed.
When the time came for my late fall checkup my doctor was
shocked at my deteriorated condition and upset with me for not seeking
him out earlier than my scheduled appointment. The disease was
voluminous in my body and was about to consume me.
The next ten months contained no happy talk. Monthly sessions
of intravenous chemotherapy were followed by target radiation. In late
August, I was undergoing the bone marrow transplant with its massive
chemotherapy and whole body radiation. For the next six weeks I was
confined to a sterile hospital room, attempting to recover from these
assaults to my body. These were weeks of fear and discomfort, of
course, but they were also weeks of slowly realizing that I was now able
to look at the monster full face. In early October I was released from
that room. I was back to work by mid-November, thin as a rail, bald as
a billiard ball and wonderous of my survival.
I have often reflected back upon those ten months. I know that
my hard-nosed, no-margin-for-error doctors saved my life. But I also
know that I resented their tough approach during that period.
My story is my own but there are millions of Americans who have
had to learn the same lesson in countless other personal crises.
Avoidance of hard truths makes the inevitable dealing with them all the
more difficult. And what is true for individuals is also true for
In 1991 there is a need for us to acknowledge that we must get
our financial house in order. The New American Mandate is, above all,
an economic imperative. It is committing ourselves to the actions
necessary to achieve full economic recovery and unassailable competitive
strength. This involves what we do every day in the workplace and every
day in the marketplace. It is thinking about these daily events as
expressions of economic patriotism – as necessary prerequisites for the
preservation of our standard of living.
Through the New American Mandate we will demand that our leaders
articulate the policies for this economic regeneration. Not just the
comfortable policies, but the difficult ones as well. Not at some
distant time when it will be politically easier, but now, while we still
have the capacity to control our destiny.
We need a national economic policy. What we have today is a
naive faith that our companies can compete without any public sector
help as they struggle against foreign companies linked to governments
with resolute industrial policies. Our companies are going forth to do
one-on-one battle and are being mugged. Their competitors are aided by
governments that aggressively seek out the advantages of uneven playing
fields whenever possible.
The Reagan-Bush response to all this has been benign neglect on
a global basis. And the muggings continued unabated. We Democrats must
do better. We must level the playing field.
There are many components to a national economic policy. Let me
list a few.
Democratic and Republican Shibboleths
Both political parties are going to have to abandon the rusty
core elements of their economic philosophies and head off in new
directions. These archaic old saws are much embraced by party
chieftains. The affection for them expressed by party ideologues is
matched only by our trading competitors’ fervent hope that they will
never disappear. These nations benefit by our politics of
Democrats have always believed that their essential mission is
social and economic justice. And so it is. Look for such advancements
in the twentieth century and in almost every instance a Democrat’s hand
has been at work. It is a noble tradition.
That tradition must never be abandoned.
Underlying that mission, however, has been a rarely acknowledged
but enduring notion. Wealth would be created by others and after its
creation we Democrats would intervene to preserve fairness by the
equitable redistribution of that wealth. During most of this century
that may have been a logical battle plan. Not so any more.
There is today one glaring truth. You cannot redistribute
wealth that is never created. A party devoted to the purpose of carving
up the economic pie should be alarmed by the reality that the pie is
shrinking. Witness the devastation being visited upon critical social
programs by the shortfall in tax revenues in most states in the country.
Democrats are going to have to go back to the original act – the
creation of national wealth. They are going to have to sit down with
the business community and jointly establish policies of wealth
creation. It means giving up comfortable political nuclear weapons –
such as the marvelous boost gained from routinely attacking corporate
America and big business. Some recent Democratic rhetoric presents
itself as traditional populism, an “us-them” view of the world where the
“them” is anyone in the manufacturing, service or banking industries.
Wake up, Democrats. Without viable manufacturing, service and banking
sectors, there is no country. A marriage – note the word is marriage,
not liaison – with corporate America is essential. Corporate America
must survive, indeed thrive, if our Democratic social agenda is to have
any hope of implementation.
This does not mean that we put aside our concern about social
and economic justice. That standard must remain in the forefront of our
consciousness. But it must coexist with a resolute determination that
America must create wealth in order to provide a decent standard of
living for our people.
To effectively deal with the problems of homelessness, of AIDS,
of affordable housing, of catastrophic health care for everyone, of
college scholarships, of all the human needs we care about there must be
revenue flow from which to secure the necessary funds. The more we want
to solve the great human injustices in our society, the more we are
going to need a full throttle economic engine. One cannot exist without
Pro-business, some would call it. And so it is. Aggressively
so. But commonwealth is what it is as well. There is a real political
opening here for our party. Many in the business community are quite
alarmed by the economic decline of America and want to fight back. They
see an administration that has always devoted its energies elsewhere and
offers no real hope that its disinterest will ever end. These business
leaders, however, view the Democrats with deep skepticism. They do
truly see us as “tax and spend” advocates who are instinctively hostile
to business interests. Our task is to convince them that we really
understand one simple reality. America’s standard of living is totally
dependent upon their capacity to compete and be profitable. It’s about
time we said so and acted accordingly.
To me this is not an abstraction. My childhood was spent
experiencing the economic decline of my home city, Lowell,
Massachusetts. My father (a Republican) owned a dry cleaners and the
entire family worked in the business. My father worked from 6:30 a.m.
to 6:30 p.m., six days a week, 51 weeks a year. Sundays were spent
doing the books and repairing the machinery. By any fair standard, this
staggering workload should have resulted in just rewards for him. It
didn’t. No matter how hard he worked, no matter how conscientious he
was, the forces of Lowell’s economic decline were too much to overcome.
The remembrance of those days has left me with an inability to
view economic dislocation casually. Perhaps I have too good a memory.
But when I see our nation’s economic indices, I have a foreboding sense
of not wanting these trends to run their course. I want to determine my
own fate. I believe the business world is full of people who share this
deep concern. We Democrats must reach out to them.
Whereas the Democrats must learn to embrace the world of
industrialists, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, Republicans are
going to have to alter their views as well.
At the Republican core is the almost religious belief that an
unfettered free market is the best of all worlds.
Industrial policy is seen as equivalent to child pornography.
It is seen as the domain of such reprobates as Castro, the Sandinistas
and the now discredited Communist planners.
This view is unschooled. Industrial policies presuppose a
market system. They show how to improve the competitiveness of private
firms through public policies. Since Communist central planning systems
have neither markets nor private companies, it is by definition a
contradiction in terms to refer to them as having industrial policies.
Republicans are going to have to refine their perspectives to
realize that to embrace any component of an industrial policy is not to
immediately be guilty of Soviet-style central planning activities.
Industrial policy is what Japan has. It is what Germany has.
It is what we must have as well.
When I was involved with the Chrysler bill some eleven years
ago, the attitude of the purist laissez faire proponents was, basically,
“let it die.” To argue the case for sustaining a company with a viable
future product line was difficult because some felt it was government
intervention. And it was. But if the company had gone under would
America have been better off? Of course not. The government even made
money on the deal when it was all over. But I never heard anyone say
that they would have voted differently. An America with just two major
auto manufacturers is not an industrial policy. Saving Chrysler was
industrial policy. It worked and we should not be so quick to forget
Republicans are well trained to look at potential military
adversaries and demand weapon equivalence in defense of the nation. If
these adversaries have a particular military capability, then by
definition, we must put aside all other considerations to make our
military capability even bigger and better.
Today our economic enemies are our political friends. The war
they wage is in the marketplace, not on the battlefield. America can be
done away with by economic decay just as assuredly as by foreign
invasion. The implosion of the Warsaw Pact was economic, political and
social. It collapsed from its own internal weaknesses, not by the force
of outside military attack. An ever diminishing standard of living in
the United States will cause us to battle each other over diminishing
resources. We will cease to be a major factor in world affairs as we
focus only upon our downward spiral.
For the Republicans as well there should be one glaring truth.
American companies need the United States government as a full partner
if they are to have any hope of competing internationally. That means
an industrial policy. Take a deep breath, my Republican friends. It’s
a brave new world out there. Adam Smith was a marvelous man but he
wouldn’t know a superconductor or memory chip if he tripped over one.
Take another deep breath. The threat to America today is not
only a diminished Soviet Union. It is not just Saddam Hussein. It is
the threat of a different dimension. It is Japanese, German, Taiwanese,
Swiss, French, South Korean, etc. Friends all. But just as capable of
reducing us to impotence. They have already begun. The adrenalin that
Republicans would call up at will to confront Soviets or Cubans or
Sandinistas or East Germans or North Koreans or the Iraqi Republican
Guard must be called up to confront our friends.
This is war by another playwright. But it’s still war.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand the post-Gulf War era.
The Japanese and Germans will have emerged as even more formidable
economic competitors. They chose to bypass the conflict while we made
it our foremost national purpose. It is no accident that CNN and
network coverage of the war was viewed by Americans on Japanese TV sets
and was interspersed with ads from Japanese manufactured products.
Republicans must acknowledge this and begin to mobilize
accordingly. This means opening up to aggressive and resolute policies
which will put the government in the foxhole with our beleaguered
American companies. Republicans who focus on “defense strength” must be
made to understand that such capabilities come from government funds.
Government funds come from taxes. And taxes come from a vibrant
economy. Kill the economy and you have no “defense strength.”
If the New American Mandate requires Democrats to embrace the
creation of wealth, it also requires Republicans to see honor in asking
the question “what works” and to see dishonor in slavish adherence to
past economic dogma.
For Democrats the political opportunity lies in the likelihood
that George Bush will not act any differently about this than Ronald
Reagan did. There are three reasons for this.
First, the politics are an impediment. Avoidance politics have
always been, and will always be, powerfully seductive. “Read my lips,
no new taxes” was just the latest in a long line of homage to false
gods. The Reagan-Bush line has been to gloss over the dangers (“morning
in America”) and simply ignore fundamental economic trends. Their
concern is the immediate judgment of their electoral contemporaries not
the judgment of historians – even if that history is rapidly coming upon
us. It is my contention that the accumulation of hard data as to our
economic dilemma has provided a base for electoral realism in 1992.
That base can only expand. The 1992 Democratic campaign must take it on
faith that Americans are prepared to wage this economic battle
ferociously. The Republicans will presume the opposite and will
continue their avoidance politics.
Second, there is no sense of urgency. Most of the key economic
decision makers in the administration come from circumstances of
affluence. For them there will be financial insulation no matter what
happens. Their economic safety nets are made of steel cables. There is
no foreboding. There is no perception that the economic ground beneath
them can tremble. It is just too removed from their own personal
histories and circumstances. This is not meant to suggest venality. It
is meant to suggest that perception of a particular threat is more acute
in those who have faced it before.
Third, the trade deficit, the budget deficits and manufacturing
employment numbers listed above are all Reagan-Bush. They occurred
during their watch. They are the party of record.
To reverse course would be to acknowledge that their unaided
free market policies have been dysfunctional as we confront trade
competitors who have their public and private sectors in resolute
harmony. To reverse course is to admit error. It will never happen.
At best they will work around the margins. A full blown frontal assault
on the economic threat would require a self-analysis of the past eleven
years that will inevitably sully the Reagan-Bush record. George Bush
cannot, and will not, do this. His course was set more than a decade
ago when he retreated from his declaration that Reagan’s policies were
“voodoo economics.” Once he capitulated to that Republican realpolitik,
his options were narrowed forever.
We Democrats must insure that George Bush’s dilemma is not
Recognize the Peril
This is step one. This is where America and George Bush must
part company. No one ever solved a problem he refused to acknowledge.
Yes, we are losing ground, particularly in high technology,
basic manufacturing, and financial services.
Yes, it is the national crisis of the highest priority.
Yes, it threatens to seriously reduce the American standard of
Yes, it will destroy the economic foundation of our military
Yes, it will severely compromise our capability to play a
peacekeeping role in world affairs.
Yes, we now believe that government must be an active partner in
this great challenge.
Yes, America should be the pre-eminent manufacturing nation on
Yes, Americans are the equal of any workforce in the world.
Good. Now let’s get on with it.
Be Prepared to Make Strategic Investments
The notion of investing in the technologies necessary to create
the Star Wars program was hotly debated. But it became national policy
and billions were allocated to that purpose.
Why? National security.
What about investments in technologies that could impact our
economic national security? Horrors. That’s central planning.
In the long run would America be better off with hundreds of
billions invested in an improbable Star Wars system arrayed only against
an imploding Soviet Union or by developing an insurmountable lead in
ceramic engines, supercomputers and memory chips? Indeed, without a
thriving manufacturing capability in these industries the economic base
to fund military research can not exist. Many anti-industrial policy
Republicans would say that the non-functionality of Star Wars against
the Soviet Union is an unfortunate but necessary price of eternal
vigilance against a foreign military threat. These people would also
argue against major governmental investments in strategic technologies
because, unlike the Japanese, “we can’t pick winners and losers.” What
about the economic foreign threat?
Again, it’s a matter of mindset.
Washington has been focused on the Soviet challenge for the
entire adult years of most of its leaders. It rebels at the notion that
in the 1990’s there are real dangers that do not emanate from missiles
or tanks or fighter aircraft.
It must rethink threat. Threat can be venal such as a Saddam
Hussein. But threat can come from people who are friendly and have no
The threat to America is economic as well. We must think of
government and industry as partners with the same level of enthusiasm,
indeed patriotism, that the military-industrial complex generates for
its joint mission. Strategic investments in emerging technologies is
part of an industrial policy which will result in some losers, yes, but
will also result in some critical winners as well. These winners will
be a major part of our economic future. Particularly now that American
venture capital has shrunk dramatically, government has a contributing
role to play in insuring that our push for technological competitiveness
has a fair chance at success.
Promotion of Science and Research
This is one area where the rhetoric is in place but not the
reality. The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of
Health, NASA, the Departments of Energy and Agriculture among others,
are the mothers’ milk of cutting edge research investigations. We
should not be satisfied with marginal increases in these budgets.
Again, its a matter of mindset. The Manhattan Project. The Apollo
program. The war in the Persian Gulf. It’s just a matter of
recognizing the threat and responding to it. There will be no
manufacturing sector without a powerful basic and applied research
capability. Put these agencies at the top of our funding priorities.
In addition to the traditional areas of basic and applied
research, we must devote more attention to applied engineering and
The economic war that we are losing is centered on process
technologies. The taking of new ideas, indeed, even old ideas, and
converting them to manufactured goods is the great trade battle ground.
The winners here are those who can take high and low tech products and
simply manufacture them better. It is the process of manufacturing that
should also be the recipient of research monies since it is only the
production of a technology which creates wealth. The initial discovery
and development of a product are the stuff of Nobel Prizes and prideful
articles in trade journals. But that is not enough.
The prior definition of success embraced those who could
conceive new product ideas. Today the definition of success embraces
those who can take those ideas, wherever they may originate, and turn
them into products quickly, efficiently, and with great quality control.
The Japanese takeover of the American-originated VCR market is an
obvious example. These are the cash cows. These are the providers of
employment for a nation’s people. They are equally worthy of
intellectual inquiry and investigation.
The need here is to exalt science in all its dimensions. There
must be a White House effort to create an environment wherein young
Americans choose science (and engineering) as a career. The society as
a whole needs to acknowledge that we will survive as a viable economy
only by the fruits of the minds of young American scientists. To have
our best and brightest heading to law schools and Wall Street is a gross
misallocation of resources. The best and the brightest should be in the
laboratories and in the production facilities. The best and the
brightest should be deployed to reinvigorate our manufacturing sector.
This will require a sea change away from the values of the 1980’s that
drove our young away from occupations of production and into the
occupations of the paper chase.
A society which pays its 29 year old science researchers $25,000
a year and its 29 year old lawyers $100,000 a year and its 29 year old
investment bankers $200,000 a year and its 29 year old left fielders $2
million a year is sending all the wrong messages. It is a formula for
unrelenting decline. The young American scientist must be recognized as
the fuel of any viable economic engine.
Change Anti-Trust Laws
Current anti-trust laws prevent American companies from joint
venturing in almost any area including such critical ones as research
and development. The rationale for this policy is rooted in America of
years past, long before our companies faced foreign corporate behemoths.
We need to pool our resources to be equal with our competition. We have
to allow our companies to muscle up. Joint venturing is the sine qua
non of that capability. It must become an everyday occurrence in order
to equip these companies to compete in the global marketplace.
American companies should be released from anti-trust
constraints in areas which impact on their capabilities in international
This is one area where our Japanese and German competitors view
us with great mirth. To them the concept of group strategies is an
obvious way of maximizing your strengths. Seeing America hobbled by her
own hand must seem to be a heaven- sent advantage.
Current American law pays homage to a period when all the
producers were American and thus cooperation between them was clearly
dangerous to the consuming public. Today most of the producers are
foreign and they threaten to eradicate American producers. There must
be a serious rethinking. The fact that our anti-trust laws were not
changed years ago speaks to the absolute neglect of the cutting edge
issues of competitiveness while we engage endlessly in the rhetoric of
promoting competitiveness. Democrats are particularly vulnerable to
this criticism. We must give our companies a more level playing field
through policy changes that don’t require massive federal expenditures.
Increase Our Savings Rate
Congress should pass laws which encourage savings over
consumption. This will create a capital pool which will begin to match
the resource base that countries with high savings rates enjoy. The
lack of a capital pool is the economic equivalent of unilateral
The numbers here are staggering. Compare the United States,
Japan and Germany in years 1980, 1984 and 1988. Our national savings as
a percentage of GNP went from 18.8 to 17.0 to 15.1.
Germany had rates of 21.7 to 21.7 to 24.5.
Japan, of course, was in a class by itself. It had rates of
31.1 to 30.7 to 33.3.
We need a dramatic improvement in our rate of savings in order
to provide the much needed capital base for investment.
A much greater abundance of capital will serve two purposes.
First, it will reduce the cost of capital to U.S. companies. Currently
the cost of capital in America far exceeds that of Japan and Germany.
It renders corporate decision makers unable to make investments whose
payout is long term. This financial barrier is lethal to the kinds of
corporate strategies that are necessary in order to compete.
Second, it will reduce our current hazardous dependence on
outside sources of capital. These are sources which can quickly
evaporate when these nations decide they have other more pressing uses
for these funds: i.e. West Germany’s current interest in investing in
the restoration of former East Germany. Being dependent on foreign
capital is not unlike being dependent on foreign oil. You don’t control
your own destiny. Various I.R.A.s for retirement, college expenses,
home ownership are examples of pro-savings incentives. Other ideas
should be aggressively explored.
Finally, the savings ethic must be fully ingrained in the
American culture forever, not just to get us through this difficult
period. That means our children must be part of it. Schools should
work with banks to give each child a savings account or some equivalent.
No matter how small, such accounts establish a thought process. Efforts
should be made to allow the pooling of funds into Childrens Mutual
Funds, wherein school groups could invest minor amounts of money at
reduced service fees. This would have the additional benefit of
directly involving children in learning about and caring about the
American economic system. These would be latter day Economic Liberty
Bonds. Young people would be taking a personal step in helping to
provide the capital necessary in America’s battle for economic survival.
The secondary value of such participation by the young is the
early awareness of how dependent America is upon the actions of
individuals. Hopefully, this sense of personal relevance will be
reinforced by other actions and lead to a more contributory attitude
towards citizenship. Our people must perceive America’s economic
vulnerability and see their own essential role in safeguarding their
Investment Over Consumption
There are a lot of indices that show the inevitable decline of
American economic fortunes compared to those of the Japanese and
Germans. Inevitable, that is, if these numbers are not changed.
Probably the most significant are the numbers which reflect the
differences in mindset relative to investment and consumption.
Consumption is today.
Investment is tomorrow.
It is seed corn consumed versus seed corn planted. Nothing is
Yet relative to our competitors, we are devoted to consumption,
and they are devoted to investment.
Again raw numbers. The investment rates of the United States,
Japan and Germany. Public and private. Years 1970, 1980 and 1988.
1970 1980 1988
—- —- —-
United States: public 15.1 15.6 15.5
private 2.5 1.8 1.6
Germany: public 20.9 19.1 17.5
private 4.6 3.6 2.4
Japan: public 31.0 25.5 25.3
private 4.5 6.1 5.2
The reasons for this are historical. Japan and Germany were
ravaged during World War II. Their leadership and their populations had
known the horrors of economic disequilibrium – from runaway inflation to
personal deprivation. Out of this adversity came the intense Post-War
determination to create patterns of economic behavior that value future
stability and security over present day consumption. We saw the
Post-War period as the time to reap the fruits of our victory. Present
day consumption was seen as an earned reward eclipsing any widespread
sense of providing for the future. The 1980’s were the epitome of that
mindset. It was assumed the future would always be economically secure.
That assumption was wrong. The result of these national patterns if
allowed to persist will be a much lesser America. Fewer good jobs.
More foreign ownership. More social dislocation. Less world influence.
More crushing debt, both personal and national. The savers will
dominate the spenders. The investors will eclipse the consumers. The
lean and hungry will always prevail over the comfortable and complacent.
The problem here is not that all of this is not understood. The
problem is that being understood by economists is one thing. Being
understood by politicians is quite another. And transforming
understanding into action is more difficult still.
The economists will say that investment and consumption are like
a seesaw. In order for investment to go up, consumption must come down.
Herein lies the political dilemma. But herein also lies the opportunity
for political leadership.
Through the New American Mandate, our people will affirm their
commitment to a policy that defines the common good as the promotion of
investment over consumption. We need to create in ourselves the kind of
steely will to survive economically that our Japanese and German
counterparts still have. We must fashion a political environment
wherein a drumbeat for necessary economic policies allows our elected
officials to do what is right without fear of immediate ouster. Voting
for needed economic reform must be demanded by the electorate.
Continued avoidance of such reform must be clearly identified as
unacceptable pandering by politicians who are putting their own
re-election concerns above the national interest.
This involves choices, few of which will be easy. Yet relative
to the economic decisions being faced by countries like Poland and the
Soviet Union they are far less onerous. Far less. It means looking at
the entitlement programs, heretofore a political never-never land in
American politics. Would the Congress support a policy of reducing the
yearly increase in entitlements by one percent below the cost of living?
It’s not a great deal but it would establish a policy of economic
response. But politically it will not pass, even for those above a
certain income level, in the absence of a clear understanding as to the
nation’s need for such a measure. It must be seen as patriotic to rally
all of us to this cause. The principle of shared sacrifice for the
common good must be advanced. This is the “vision thing” that George
Bush finds so hard to come to grips with.
The policy must be made clear to every American. We must make
the transition from a high consumption/low investment country to a
lesser consumption/high investment country. Japan and Germany did so
decades ago because adversity gave them no choice. Can America do the
same without having experienced such deprivation? Can we act in time to
lessen the impact of far more painful decisions in the future?
I believe we can if the political leadership is prepared to show
Reduce the capital gains tax for investments in appropriate securities
held for a long period of time
The current capital gains tax debate would only happen in a
political environment far removed from the pressures faced by American
companies. We don’t need an across the board capital gains reduction as
President Bush fought so desperately for last year. Encouraging people
to invest in raw land or commercial buildings or art collections adds
nothing to our competitiveness. They are simply less critical
recipients of our capital. Providing capital gains advantages to people
who speculate in the stock market is equally counterproductive since it
rewards short-term corporate horizons at the expense of long-term
corporate strategies. It also encourages our most talented to seek
their fortunes by speculative and manipulative paper shuffling as
opposed to production oriented careers. Michael Milken at $500 million
a year is very powerful career counseling of the worse kind.
We need to limit capital gains incentives to long-term
investments in corporate America. This signals that such investments
are our nation’s top investment priority. To be effective, this signal
cannot be rhetoric, but must be pure marketplace. Invest here and your
returns will be maximized. Very simple. Invest in an American
company, hold that stock rather than speculate with it, and you get a
significantly lower capital gains tax rate. The longer the stock is
held, the lower the tax rate.
In addition, efforts should be made to define new enterprises.
While the focus of the capital gains tax differential must be on
corporate investments, it makes obvious sense to give an added incentive
to such new enterprises. The growth of the American industrial base has
always come from small and emerging businesses. These are the
entrepreneurs with the greatest maneuverability. But they also have the
greatest vulnerabilty. Today with the shrinking of the venture capital
markets they are at even greater risk. There should be differentials
here large enough to attract serious investment into those new ventures
which will provide sources of fresh employment in the years ahead. It
is time for paying attention to sunrise enterprises as well as sunset
It is this combination of criteria that should make the capital
gains reduction a central part of creating an America in economic
rebound. Such a program would channel capital towards our
industrial/manufacturing sector and would stretch out the time horizons
The obstacle here is party politics. Some Democrats oppose any
capital gains differential because supporting it prevents them from
using the “class warfare” argument against the Republicans. Taking
aggressive anti-business positions is second nature to them. Class
warfare is certainly good politics. But it’s good politics at the
expense of the nation’s industrial base. Democrats should be concerned
with what a targeted capital gains tax would do for America and not be
focused on a myopic discourse about who benefits the most under such a
system. It is the common good that counts.
I learned this lesson in 1975 in Lowell. My home city was being
crushed under double digit unemployment. The downtown was a visually
unattractive array of buildings that had not seen any reinvestment for
decades. Lowell was everyone’s model of a depressed mill city.
As a new Congressman I proposed the creation of the Lowell
Financial and Development Corporation. This entity would be funded by
the local banks contributing one-twentieth of one percent of their
assets to it. The corporation would then reinvest those funds in
restoring the historic buildings of the downtown. There was the
expected resistance from some of the bankers but eventually they agreed
because they, in essence, owned this devaluating property.
What was not expected was the feeling by a few non-business
people that the corporation was inappropriate because it would benefit
some building owners that they considered unsavory. These people don’t
deserve to receive financial rewards, they argued, because they are
responsible for letting these buildings fall into disarray in the first
I must admit that I felt some sympathy for this righteousness
but not enough to change my mind. The corporation was created, and it
and its organizational twin, the Lowell Plan, have been very successful.
Lowell has become a national model of urban renaissance.
Did the “unsavory” people benefit? They sure did. But so did
everyone else in a once-depressed mill city with what had seemed a
marginal future. So what.
Provide for a Research & Development Tax Credit
This should be self-explanatory. We can’t compete long term if
we are not putting our earnings back into research and development.
Such reinvestment back into a company should be viewed as the corporate
investment of highest priority and taxed accordingly. Farmers who
consume their seed corn are never heard from again. The same is true of
companies. We have to help American companies strengthen their
prospects for the long term.
Change the counterproductive short term U.S. corporate perspective
The U.S. system of corporate survival is strictly a short term game.
All of the forces in the marketplace reward the shortsighted and
penalize the wise. It cuts down the chief executive officer (and his
board of directors) who thinks long term and is willing to put his money
where his strategy is. For example, CEO #1 and CEO #2 have similar
companies with equivalent earnings. CEO #1 takes 30% of his earnings
and invests it in a long term research project that he has faith in.
CEO #2 shares that faith but chooses to retain that 30% as an earnings
dividend to the shareholder. Company #1’s stock, therefore, will be
lower than Company #2’s because its earnings are lower. Company #1,
therefore, is more attractive to a takeover since its stock can be
acquired at a lower price and it has a long term technology strategy.
Company #2 is less attractive to a takeover for exactly the opposite
reasons – higher stock price and less long term technological promise.
Who is the better CEO? Who is the safer CEO? These are questions that
will yield two different answers. This is especially true if company #2
uses its higher stock price to acquire company #1 and then slashes the
research and development budget in order to help pay off the resultant
debt. This is the true American corporate nightmare. We must enact
fundamental changes to reverse this reality. It means charting new
waters but it must be done.
The role of CEO must be redefined in accordance with the new
world economic realities. Historically the CEO was charged with
maximizing the short term value of the stockholder’s holdings, no more,
no less. Any policy which veered from this approach was an invitation
to hostile shareholder lawsuits.
The new definition must include the notion of the CEO as keeper
of the assets of the company. Those assets are all-inclusive – human,
technological, physical and financial. The primary responsibility must
be the advancement and growth of those assets over the long term. It
must prevail over the policy of short term shareholder value that comes
at the expense of the nation’s long term need to have growing vibrant
companies. We must get to the point where the pursuit of short term
profits by destroying assets, selling off assets, and ravaging research
and development budgets, will be seen as highly inappropriate.
Unshackling a progressive CEO also demands that we redefine the
proper role for corporate directors as we attempt to be internationally
competitive. At issue here are the same concerns – i.e. corporate
strategies and corporate time horizons. But it also involves the
attendant issue of director exposure to shareholder lawsuits where the
shareholder’s interest is immediate cash-in value irrespective of
management practices that strengthen the company’s future. Corporate
board meetings are generally focused on month-to-month or
quarter-to-quarter reporting of data, as opposed to exhaustive
examination of long term corporate strategies. We must implement ways
for directors to support long term horizon strategies that benefit the
company and the nation over the long haul and not have these directors
subject to instant legal liability.
I experienced this catch-22 while serving on the board of a
publicly-held company. The corporation had accumulated excess cash as a
result of divestitures and had to decide what to do with this resource.
The choices were pretty straightforward. Keeping the cash on hand was
an open invitation for a takeover bid by someone seeking to buy the
company, take the cash and just dump the rest of the assets. This would
weaken the remaining company dramatically and we all knew that.
Distribution of the cash as dividends and a possible management
buyout, etc. were a second possible approach. This was the safest of
director options since it would be well received by the shareholders.
The problem with it was simple. The company would not have gained any
new strength as it ventured forth in the future. The cash would have
been expended without impact on our competitive capability. It would
have created a company with lesser viability over the long term.
The final possibility was to use the cash to acquire a
complementary second company and end up with a larger corporation. This
would mean better market share, a broader technology base and real
economies of scale. It was a classic example of technological synergy
and corporation muscling up. An easy decision? Hardly. It was the
decision most likely to put the directors at risk because we would be
choosing to bet on long term stock appreciation rather than immediate
There was a direct correlation between director legal liability
and preserving the company. Put another way, to maximize our own
personal legal security, we would have had to vote to leave the company
in a weakened position.
We chose not to do so. We made the acquisition. The company is
now profitable and the stock is appreciating.
That’s all very nice but I vividly remember walking to my car
after the meeting wondering whether I had risked the financial
well-being of my family by deciding to make the company as competitive
as possible. What if the gamble had failed and I had been sued? Would
I have been able to convince my family that their financial sacrifice
These dynamics are lethal to American competitiveness. Unless
directors are convinced that long term strategies will not invite
hostile takeovers, unless directors are convinced that supporting long
term strategies will not expose them to serious legal exposure – unless
these are the new realities in the corporate board room, nothing will
change no matter how progressive corporate management wants to be.
There is, admittedly, a very fine line here. The threat of
stockholder lawsuits has a real and valid function. Corporate directors
should fear a reckoning if they do not meet their fiduciary
responsibilities. But why should short term shareholder value be
considered more responsible by our legal system than long term
competitive viability? Why should the de facto damaging of the nation’s
industrial capability be a safeguard against lawsuits? Somehow the
ground rules have to change. We must seize the opportunity to step back
and rethink existing assumptions. This would entail changing the scope
of director responsibility to include the requirement that long term
competitive viability be a standard component of any decision making
process. Another would be a requirement that directors annually review
research and development budgets both as to the percentage of the total
corporate budget compared to competitors and as to the particular
research agenda. Boards should include directors who possess relevant
skills in the appropriate technologies and not just financial and
Another counterproductive assumption is the one that holds that
every public corporation must release its financial data every three
months. These quarterly reports define corporate America today. Their
release triggers instant response by Wall Street and other like
watchers. Nothing is as sacred as these quarterly announcements.
Nothing is as traditional and nothing is as expected.
Yet that doesn’t make them necessarily valuable. Is it not time
to ponder the following? Neither Japan nor Germany has such a practice.
They rely upon annual reports. They are known to have much longer
corporate time horizons than we do. We should explore the concept of
stretching out quarterly reports to semi-annual reports. Or indeed even
to just annual reports. If our very successful trading competitors do
just nicely, thank you, without quarterly reports, why are they
essential here? I would suggest that serving the gurus and traders and
speculators and raiders of Wall Street is far less important than
serving those within our companies who are trying to survive.
Let the debate begin. The need is to stretch out corporate
horizons. Quarterly reports do just the opposite.
Management-Labor Attitude Changes
The rhetoric about management-labor cooperation is oft-heard but
needs a boost from the Presidential bully pulpit.
Management must be encouraged to drop old attitudes about
workers being the “other side” and to engage workers in true joint
consultation and decision making. These are the only avenues to the
kind of productivity and quality control necessary to have competitive
products. There is a new awareness about the need to change archaic
management techniques but change comes hard. Management of the old
school still occupies too many executive suites, buttressed by too many
old bulls in the board rooms.
The President should give high and consistent visibility to
companies that are inclusive in their practices and progressive in their
techniques by visiting plants where these practices are in place.
By publicly holding out such companies as models, it will help
create an environment wherein regressive management techniques will be
more and more isolated over time. It will bring about the kind of
dialogue about management practices that will accelerate progressive
change. This dialogue will provoke the kind of critical corporate
self-analysis that too often happens only after Chapter 11 has been
filed and the golden parachutes deployed. The need is for mid-course
corrections, not better corporate autopsies.
Correspondingly, the unions (and non-unions) must change more
rapidly as well. Union officials should save their ammunition to fight
for issues like wage scale, health benefits and worker safety. No
effort should be expended trying to defend illogical work rules that are
nothing but feather bedding. The common goal should be highest possible
productivity at the highest possible wage rates. Many union officials
have been very active in forging this new direction but if we are to be
competitive there needs to be near unanimous acceptance of this
perspective. A President, especially a Democratic President, should
give overt support to progressive union leaders while being willing to
criticize those who cling to outmoded views.
This rationale applies equally to non-union work forces. The
New American Mandate means workers who proudly embrace their
responsibility to help their companies prosper.
Companies saddled with management that distrusts its workforce
combined with workforce leadership which feels no responsibility to
maximize productivity are doomed. Such foolish leadership causes job
loss for innocent workers and GNP loss for the country. Pick up any
paper and you will read about such lamentable situations every day in
almost every industry. The President has a role to play to guide
management and labor away from such destructive practices.
This is one area where the political leadership in both parties
at every level has failed to call forth America’s capacity to promote
its own self-interest.
Economic loyalty to one’s fellow countrymen is not a value that
is fashionable in America today. To raise the matter in a public speech
is to cause more seat squirming than a discourse on safe sex. To
suggest it to the generation of the 80’s is to invite barely concealed
Yet, what is loyalty to one’s country? What is loyalty to one’s
fellow countryman? What is one’s obligation to the larger societal
“family” in times of economic distress?
If, during the last four decades, I had sent $100 to the Soviet
Union to aid them in their war effort against us I would have been
justly accused of treason. I would be vilified by both conservatives
and liberals as having aided and abetted a nation which threatens my
country. Properly so.
If, at the same time, I had sent $40,000 to Japan or Germany (or
Great Britain, etc.) to aid them in their economic war effort against
us, however friendly, I would be totally ignored by American
conservatives. I would be the recipient of comments about how nice my
Mercedes or Lexus (or Jaguar or Audi or BMW, etc.) looked. In addition,
there would be absolutely no suggestion from American liberals that the
American auto worker rendered unemployed by my car purchase decision
should be of any relevance to me.
We are in the grip of a kind of 1980’s loyalty, that is, loyalty
to one’s self and one’s image with no concern for the common wealth.
Indeed, to suggest a rethinking of our collective responsibilities to
each other is to encounter extreme defensiveness.
This 1980’s loyalty is not confined to “Me-Generation” fast
The average corporate chief executive officer is often no
better. Chances are excellent that he or she drives to work in an
expensive foreign import, dressed to the nines in foreign shoes and
clothing, all the while lamenting the decline of America’s industrial
base and the easy availability of capital in other countries.
This is where the New American Mandate would seek to change
attitudes. We used to think that patriotism was supporting our troops
in the Persian Gulf and buying a Mercedes on the same day. The New
American Mandate would be a lot more comprehensive.
An American parable for the 1980’s is as follows. A well paid
engineer working for an American company buys an Infiniti. Six months
later he/she gets a layoff notice because his/her company can’t compete
with its Japanese counterpart. The engineer drives home in a funk and
never, never equates the two events.
This is not an argument for a mindless Buy America policy. That
approach suggested that we buy domestically produced items irrespective
of all other considerations – such as quality and price. As the not-so
proud owner of a Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega in my time, I am all too
fully aware of the downside of such a policy. It promotes the laziness
and inefficiency of any protectionist policy. It is more compassionate
but ultimately leads to the same kind of inevitable manufacturing base
deterioration. The incentive to excel is seriously weakened.
But there are harbors of logical refuge between mindless Buy
America and soulless 1980’s non-loyalty. In between there are cases
where a consumer is faced with choices where the distinctions are not so
obvious. Economic loyalty is simply opting to put one’s capital towards
the strengthening of America, not the strengthening of another country.
These are cases where the benefit of the doubt tips the scales in favor
of the American product.
The recent focus on quality control in American cars, for
example, clearly offers such opportunities today.
Finally, it should be emphasized that this is not a call for
protectionism or foreign bashing. These two are the siren’s temptation.
The former is nothing more than the acceptance of full scale competitive
retreat. It is a warm refuge but only temporary and eventually fatal.
Erecting protectionist barriers is counterproductive. Our efforts
should be focused on openness elsewhere and full reciprocity in world
The latter is equally dangerous. It is quite appropriate to
criticize foreign countries when their policies are in error. Certainly
there is no shortage of selfish and irresponsible practices carried out
by our allies and trading partners. We should not be hesitant about
pointing these out and calling for correction.
Some politicians, however, go beyond this and seek to swim in
the murky waters of demagoguery. Blaming foreign nations for our
economic woes is standard fare for elected officials because it is
invariably well received – particularly in areas of high unemployment.
It is a lot more rewarding politically to bash imports than to suggest
that there may be fault in attitudes or strategies here at home. This
political tactic is avoidance politics of a different kind. It allows
people to walk away resenting other nations when they should be
demanding changes in how we do things in America. By continuing to
persist in denial we put off the necessary self-examination and
rethinking that will lead to true competitiveness. Thus, the foreign
basher ultimately serves the interests of the foreigner by putting off
the critical day of our own renewal.
But the issue here is not just economic. It is social as well.
A sense among consumers that we care about our fellow countrymen and are
willing to demonstrate economic loyalty in their behalf strengthens the
bonds between us. Imagine if a neighbor owned a particular business and
you needed to buy a product sold by such a business. Is it not natural
to want to give the neighbor your business if at all possible? Well,
this is the same thing except your neighbor lives further away.
The issue here is not about where productive economic loyalty
ends and counterproductive Buy America begins. The issue is a
collective recognition of the economic peril faced by our country. It
is incorporating that recognition into our daily lives as a constant
thought process. In the economic war we are all by definition soldiers
because we are consumers. The issue is deciding which army we are part
A final thought. This call for economic loyalty is in response
to our current economic dilemma. The point here is not to despise
foreign products. On the contrary, we all need a viable global economy
with the free flow of goods across borders. The point is to calibrate
our consumer decision making to the economic conditions prevailing in
the country we all call home. In other times this would not be as
relevant. In the happy future it will not be as necessary either. But
in today’s troubled conditions, it is very important. It is,
ironically, calling upon Americans to begin to think the way Japanese
corporate leaders and German consumers have acted for decades. They
have viewed this attitude as a kind of deep patriotism. Hokey, isn’t
it? But who is buying up whose national treasures? Their citizens
understand economic loyalty instinctively. It’s about time we did the
We are all part of one team. And we are tied to the success, or
lack thereof, of all the other members of our team.
Today an American professor, for example, is paid less than her
German counterpart teaching the same subject matter and more than her
British counterpart. Since the skills are equivalent, why are the
salaries different? Very simple. The German “team” is doing very well,
the American “team” less well and the British “team” even less well.
The American professor is being dragged down by the relative lack of
success of her “team.” Does that professor ever think in these terms?
Very doubtful. But we must bring about that kind of awareness.
The role here of our political leadership is to make Americans
aware that if one American worker is thrown overboard, we are all
dragged down just a bit. The more of our team members that are cast
overboard, the further down we all go.
What it comes down to is this. I go to buy a product, let’s say
an automobile. I live in a cold climate and want four-wheel drive
capability. My choice is narrowed to a Jeep and an Isuzu. My
judgment will involve issues like style and cost. But it doesn’t end
there. When I see the Jeep I sense an American autoworker who will
remain employed if I buy it. I derive a quiet pleasure knowing that my
money will remain in our economy and multiply. I instinctively
understand that my economic well-being will eventually be determined by
the economic well-being of every other American. I think like a
Japanese would. Or a German would. I think like an economic patriot.
II. Education – The Meeting House of Our Society
America in the 1990’s will rise or fall as our public schools
rise or fall. The health of our school systems is the major building
block determinant of our long term economic and social viability.
Knowledge is power. Work skills are power. Real power. Real economic
power. The lack of knowledge and work skills is weakness. It is
economic impotence. It is the transition from greatness to irrelevance.
Knowledge and work skills are also hope. They are the only
source of social mobility available to millions of our fellow citizens.
They are what turns despair into hope. Only they can create true
opportunity so that young people choose lives of promise over lives of
personal and societal destructiveness.
Education is America’s great calling.
Education, ah, education. Everyone is for it. It is the
motherhood and apple pie issue of the 90’s. Well, at least the rhetoric
would suggest so. The reality is quite different.
Republicans talk about it. President Bush, during the campaign,
said that he wanted to be known as the education President. No one
would call him that two years later. Money for the Persian Gulf and
Star Wars and the Stealth bomber? Sure. Money for serious funding of
schools? Gee, that’s really a local and state issue. Money for serious
skills training for non-college bound students? Gee, that’s not how we
think in America. Democrats love to talk about it as well. As
with the Republicans, the talk is not purposefully false. It is, in
fact, well intentioned. But improvements in education to many Democrats
only means a lot more money. It does not mean serious structural
reform. Cutting edge issues like merit pay and teacher competence
standards are offensive to some teacher unions and as a result some
Democrats oppose them. Controversial experiments like Boston
University’s takeover of the Chelsea schools, national testing of high
school seniors, school choice, magnet schools for young black male
students, uniforms for public school students, limiting bilingual
education – all make Democrats very nervous. This is not to argue that
any of these ideas is valid. This is to argue that new and radical
concepts need to be tested. We need an atmosphere where the search for
educational excellence is an objective undiluted by considerations as to
what some interest groups may oppose.
Businessmen talk about education as well. They opine about how
critical a well-trained and educated workforce is to their survival.
Some business leaders – David Kearns of Xerox and John Akers of IBM come
to mind – have become national spokesmen in behalf of public education.
They have put this issue at the forefront of their personal agendas and
have rendered the nation a great service by doing so.
They, however, are not typical.
Go to the corporate suites of your Fortune 1000 companies and
ask a very simple question of the chief executive officers and members
of the board of directors. When was the last time you set foot in a
public school classroom? The answers would reveal the obvious. The
issue of quality public education does not enjoy the personal
involvement of the very people who proclaim its vital importance. And
in some cases, they are even putting their resources toward ballot
initiatives that would reduce taxes and devastate public education.
Is public education the top priority in America? Is it the
vehicle to provide true opportunity for those who don’t happen to be
affluent? Is it the only way of having a workforce capable of competing
against its international counterparts? Is it the place where our
societal values are reinforced, and, sadly, in some cases, introduced
for the first time?
The answer to these questions must be a resolute “Yes!”
resounding from coast to coast.
Yes, it means money. Real money. It means that when budget
crunches come, public education is not viewed as the obvious candidate
Today it is. As chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Regents,
I saw a Democratic governor cut the public higher education budget by
22% from 1988 to 1990 while state appropriations as a whole increased
18%. Then, in 1991, we found ourselves with a Republican governor whose
staff was seeking ways to actually close three to five campuses.
Education, thus, has been an equal opportunity candidate for bi-partisan
attack. Why? Well, in Massachusetts both governors were openly
pro-education in their public pronouncements. That did not prevent the
bloodletting. Political realities intruded. There is one fundamental
truth at work here. Students in K through 12 can’t vote. And students
in public colleges often don’t vote. Unless these students are
protected by their voting elders, in particular the business community,
they are vulnerable because they have no counterattack capability.
Making public education a top priority means openness to new –
even radical – notions of educational innovation. Let’s criticize bold
ideas after they have been found to be flawed, not before they are
This means structural reform. Merit pay and standards of
teacher competence. School based management. Uniform testing standards
for graduating seniors. Parental involvement in choosing teachers.
Parental and teacher involvement in choosing principals. Longer school
days. The powers that be in the teacher unions must be leaders in
bringing about these necessary changes. Some already are. All must be.
The same is true with school officials, school committees, mayors and
Finally, and most fundamentally, it means that all of America
must get to know what the inside of a classroom looks like.
Parents are going to have to invest their time in the buildings
where their children are fashioning the dimensions of their lives.
Teachers are going to have to be assisted. They are going to have to be
made to feel as important as their task really is. They are also going
to have to be scrutinized. Parents are going to have to be able to know
the differences in teaching philosophies. They must learn to tell when
a principal is being creative and caring, and when a principal is just
playing out the string. Parents are also going to have to see their
role as nurturing children other than their own in these classrooms.
Parents should help involve retirees and grandparents in this task as
well. The public schools should become the meeting houses of our
society where all of our society is walking through the school doors on
a regular basis. This is the New American Mandate.
This approach must involve institutions as well as individuals.
I would suggest the following matrix. The public schools (pre-K through
12) are at the center of the matrix. Arranged around it are four
centers of institutional capability and energy. Each of the four
focuses its efforts towards the public school center. The four are
public higher education, private higher education, non-profit
institutions (clergy, hospitals, museums, foundations, performing arts,
etc.) and the business community.
What this translates into is the rector, the priest, the rabbi,
the museum director, the lawyer, the executive vice president, the
faculty member, the college hockey coach, the chief executive officer,
the surgeon, the secretary, the shop foreman, the researcher, the union
organizer – all will be in the classrooms, affirming by their very
presence the criticality of education.
What do they do there? Anything. Everything. It will range
from a once-a-year reading to a third grade class to once-a-month
tutoring of a particular student. It will mean a corporate funded day
spent at a college campus to expose sixth graders to the notion that
college may be relevant to them. It may mean mentoring a whole class
and taking responsibility for elevating their horizons, their career
Does this make a difference? That is no longer a question.
There are staggering examples of outsiders radically affecting the lives
of students whose classes they become part of. The Dr. Eugene Lang
intervention at his Bronx alma mater junior high school is the most
acclaimed example but there are countless others. It works. Hopefully,
we can get to the point where every student in every classroom has
someone beyond the overloaded teacher caring about his or her future.
That outside person must attest to the basic truth that as goes public
education so goes America.
The interface of these people and the classroom will, of course,
change things forever. Everyone investing his or her time in a
classroom will, by definition, become a committed advocate for quality
education. This will translate into real political power in behalf of
the educational system. It will also translate into corporate and
non-corporate resources being funneled to the system.
To educators, that is the good news. More threatening will be
the sense of overview, and the realization that these outsiders will be
rendering judgements about the performance of teachers and
administrators. Some will balk at this, unsure of this brave new world.
They cannot be allowed to prevail.
These intervenors should be seen as a wonderful resource. They
can help seek out technical assistance relationships with colleges and
corporations, both as to teaching theories as well as management
It will be a different world. Committed, competent teachers and
administrators will welcome the respect and caring. The new found
availability of resources will strengthen their sense of the relevance
of their profession.
The political leaders must by their personal actions bring about
this “meetinghouse of our society.” That’s how one becomes the
education President or the education Governor or the education
Congressman. The President must be willing to devote considerable
personal time to make this happen. It must be an unrelenting theme.
The President must be the Principal-In-Chief.
New Educational Needs
There are two areas where the discussion on education has
finally begun to focus.
First is the pre-kindergarten stage. More and more it is
becoming obvious that the experiences of a child at the youngest ages
predetermines his or her capacity to learn in a school setting.
Youngsters arriving at school from dysfunctional families are
immediately at a disadvantage. There is a much greater likelihood of
their academic efforts being rendered futile before they even begin.
We are going to have to focus resources on children from
difficult environments in the pre-kindergarten years (ala Headstart) and
during the after-school hours when these children confront the reality
of empty apartments and homes.
The second area of new focus is skills training. There is now a
steady drumbeat from observers that the great shortfall in American
education involves not the student who goes to college but the student
who doesn’t. It is the “non-college bound post-secondary gap.”
The great economic challenge that we face will be fought in the
trenches of the workplace. It will be a competition of skills. There
will be a direct link between the skills of the nation’s workforce and
the resultant standard of living of that nation. Manufacturers will go
where the workforce is the most highly skilled, no matter where that may
be. This is not a matter of choice for them. It is a matter of being
competitive. If our non-supervisory workers are less skilled
than their foreign counterparts they will be paid wages that reflect
that reality. Third world skills will command third world wages.
Highly paid jobs will move offshore and we will be left with the
And, if our workforce continues to experience deterioration of
wage scales the rest of the economy will deteriorate as well. Thus, in
this new world economic order it is not just the capacity of the highly
educated which determines our fate, it is the skill levels of the basic
worker as well. A skilled American workforce will provide good jobs for
educated managers and professionals. An unskilled American workforce
will not. The whole system implodes together.
Not surprisingly, our competitors have discovered this already.
In Japan, skills are learned in the companies because the companies
expect workers to remain with them for the duration of their careers.
In America, the reality of three year worker turnover causes our
companies to be wary of such an investment. In Germany, the school
system coordinates this effort and students are in school/work
situations at the age of sixteen. In France, companies are taxed 1% on
their sales. If they do worker training they don’t pay the tax. If
they don’t, they pay the tax and the government does the training.
Three models to achieve the same critical end. We have allowed
this need to escape serious attention until recently. I believe the
French model deserves consideration but adapted to the American context
with its vocational technical schools and community colleges taking the
This is a constructive approach to a problem that confronts us.
For Democrats, it is far better to pursue this option than to criticize
companies for moving their operations offshore. Such criticism will
never have a beneficial effect. Companies are never going to forego
profitability and competitiveness in order to placate Democratic
outrage. These companies are not being un-American, they are simply
responding to a perceived differential in the quality of the workforce.
To forestall such moves, we have only to provide a workforce that is
equally skilled. Certainly for reasons of logistics and management
control, any American company would prefer to have its operations as
close by as possible. And finally, it has been my experience that
American CEO’s are more nationalistic than they are given credit for.
They want a stronger America. It’s our job to help them make the
decision that’s right for America without diminishing the viability of
III. The Environment – Equilibrium With Earth
There has always been an environmental constituency. Unlike
many interest groups its objective has historically not been its own
economic well-being. Its goal has been the preservation of nature, a
sense of being at one with the land and water and air and all the
creatures which co-inhabit this planet.
That core environmental constituency has been a political
bedrock, hundreds of thousands, indeed, millions of people, feeling very
strongly about the legitimacy of their cause.
What is different about this issue in the modern day is the
newly recruited battalions to the environmentalist army and the breadth
of their concerns. The historic group (begun in large part by moderate
Republicans) is sometimes dismissed as “tree-huggers.” (It is ironic
that someone’s love of a tree could be viewed as a negative
characteristic.) The modern coalition, however, involves people whose
interests are much closer to home. It involves citizens who have been
affected by toxic dump sites or air pollution or have come to fear the
quality of the water they drink. These newly minted conservationists
are going to be no less committed to the cause of environmental
protection. Indeed, in many respects they bring a kind of passion that
has been sometimes absent. A despoiled earth will not be tolerated by
human beings dependent upon a clean earth for survival.
Now there is a third group in this coalition.
This group is largely a time-of-being phenomenon. It is the
post-Cold War generation. If one sees generations in terms of time
frames and definitive events, the progression in recent times arguably
would be Depression/World War II, Cold War, and Vietnam/Civil
When the Berlin Wall came crashing down, the spectre of
East-West nuclear confrontation was rendered highly improbable. The
young people now coming of age know, and will only know, the return of
democracy to Eastern Europe and the centrifugal forces at play in a
weakened Soviet Union.
An era has passed and with it much of the fear of a superpower
caused nuclear winter.
As this generation analyzes the world in which it will mature
and live out its years, it does not perceive a world of calm and
quietude. It perceives other dislocations. And one of the most severe
stems from the mindless abuse of our planet by generations focused on
other issues. This new generation sees a world of possible climatic
cataclysm, of a world buried in its own excessive trash, a world where
the air they will breath will threaten the health of themselves and of
the children they are beginning to bear. They see virgin forests of
antiquity falling to greed. And they see population growth which
threatens to turn the future of mankind into an endless series of bloody
clashes over ever-limited resources.
Simply put, they sense global disequilibrium. The earth is not
at peace with its inhabitants. We are consuming resources at a rate
which is not generationably sustainable. We see population growth
rendering third world cities dysfunctional. We are despoiling this
mother spaceship and will eventually render it hostile to human
Our young think differently than we do. As we get older the
time frame we think in shrinks because our remaining time on earth has
Not so the young. With their sense of their own immortality
they can look out and see forever. A planet in disequilibrium is hazy
to short-term focused adults. It is alarmingly clear to our offspring.
They know they will inherit the consequences.
I learned this lesson soon after the Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
I was driving through Chatham on Cape Cod and noticed that I needed
gasoline. Without much thought I turned into the nearest service
station and pulled up next to the pumps. There came an immediate howl
from my three children. I had stopped at an Exxon station. They
demanded that I drive away.
My response to them was that this particular gas station owner
had no responsibility for the oil spill. They rejected that argument as
irrelevant. I was patronizing a despoiler of the environment. No more.
No less. Their voices reached an insistent crescendo of righteousness
and I decided to drive off to calm the din.
The incident troubled me. As the Senate co-author of the Alaska
Lands Act, I have always seen myself as an ardent and committed
environmentalist. I always saw myself as the defender of Alaska’s
wonders. My children, however, were beyond me in their sensitivity.
How different from what I thought about when I was their age. They had
become dedicated environmental activists and I had never noticed.
We should welcome their alarm. It calls us to a true
stewardship of our environment. And such a stewardship is uniquely
American. We are the continental nation. Descendents of Teddy
Roosevelt and Ansel Adams. We should see this calling as returning home
to what we are truly all about.
It is appalling that we were the most notable footdraggers at
the recent international convention on global warming. So much for
George Bush being the environmental President. We must lead the charge
for global conservationism. If not us, who? If not now, when?
Washington has true champions of the environment in the House
and Senate and in the EPA. Let the White House use its influence to
spread that commitment throughout the land and across this globe. Let
the New American Mandate establish the principle that love of earth is
mainstream America, a reflection of the best of us in all of us.
The vehicle for doing this would be to proclaim the goal of
global equilibrium. This means the pursuit of policies and lifestyles
that allow the consumption of resources to be consistent with having an
inhabitable planet over the generations.
The issues here are obvious. Global warming and the depletion
of the ozone layer are the most noted but they are merely the tip of the
melting iceberg. These two issues deserve the highest level of
attention and concern rather than the jittery avoidance that has
characterized the Reagan-Bush years. I chaired the first hearings on
global warming as a Congressman in June, 1977. It was an issue that was
obscure to some, but all too relevant to those who testified. In the
absence of any White House or media concern the matter remained dormant
until the very hot summer of 1988. All of a sudden it was a topic of
popular discourse. That is not how serious issues should be confronted.
The White House needs to establish a national dialogue on the scientific
data. Pretending that these matters are secondary is risking the lives
of millions of people should they ever come to pass.
A Recycling Ethic
Ancient history is often marked by great events that took place
at large feasts or simple small repasts. From the tales of Homer in
ancient Greece to the beginnings of the world’s great faiths, history
was often made when people broke bread together. The
archeologists of today are unable to find virtually any artifacts from
But the archeologists in the year 2991 will be able to unearth
artifacts of millions upon millions of meals consumed in 1991. They
need only go to the local landfill and dig a bit. There they will
discover the true artifact of our time – the disposable, once used,
plastic utensil. In addition, they will find all kinds of commodities
specifically designed to be thrown away rather than repaired when they
The age of the disposable society must give way to the age of
Recycling must become as much an automatic personal habit as
brushing one’s teeth. Again, here, as in other issues referred to
previously, it is a matter of mindset.
Such a mindset already exists. But its existence is inversely
proportional to the age of the person. The young do not thoughtlessly
dispose of aluminum cans into trash cans as do many of their parents.
They want to collect them for recycling. There is great promise
here. As a member of the Recycling Advisory Council, I am struck at how
willing corporate America is to move in this direction. In many
respects they are far ahead of the politicians. Much is happening.
Americans instinctively want to be in harmony with their environment. A
clear call for sustainable lifestyles will be received with great
response. Let us sound that call.
Such a call has to be backed up by government procurement
policies at the local, state and federal level that give real preference
to recycled products. This will help to establish markets that are now
often fledgling and vulnerable.
It means introducing a virgin materials fee. This would give
recycled commodities only a slight economic competitive advantage over
virgin products, but it would set a tone as to the need for
manufacturers to rethink procurement practices. The proceeds from such
a fee would be channeled to help with recycling and disposal costs.
It means setting up a commission to establish a consistent
standard for consumer guidance so that a “green” label or a “recycling”
label has specific meaning and consumers can express their
environmentalism with their pocketbooks. There can be no doubt that
environmental consumerism is the nuclear weapon of recycling. It only
needs specific guidelines in order to be fully unleashed. Once this
happens, the market will respond accordingly. Only by having
functioning markets for recycled goods can we hope to achieve any
worthwhile level of recycling.
It means establishing product design standards to maximize
It means policies that minimize waste materials in the
manufacturing processes of American companies.
It means packaging standards that result in the least use of
throw-away materials and the greatest use of containers that are earth
The objective of all these policies should be to create a
mindset of avid consumer and governmental activism so that an
equilibrium lifestyle becomes a simple matter of every day habit and
The issues here are well known. We need energy policies which
maximize the investment in conservation and renewables and which
minimize the burning of those fossil fuels which cause the greatest
emissions. On the cutting edge here are the utilities. Federal and
state regulatory policies should tie a utility’s rate of return to its
commitment to energy conservation and the encouragement of renewable
energy sources. The loss of a utility’s revenue base caused by using
less fossil fuel based energy should result in a net plus in the
utility’s rate of return. That rate of return should be above that
which could be achieved by the usual standards of proper financial and
technical management. Utilities must be put in a position to maximize
their shareholders’ value by aggressively and relentlessly pursuing
policies consistent with the need to reduce global warming.
We also need policies which maximize the planting of carbon
dioxide consuming trees both in America and worldwide and which minimize
the need to cut down existing trees anywhere. There are going to have
to be serious discussions about how to save tropical rain forests which
are so vital to any effort to lessen the buildup of carbon dioxide.
Telling countries not to demolish their forests is as effective as their
telling us to reduce our energy consumption. These countries will not
adopt policies which benefit mankind but go against their national
economic self interests. The developed world has to be prepared to tip
the economic scales in exchange for the obvious benefits it will
receive. This is an area where we can turn to the Japanese and Germans
and ask them to take the lead. They had all sorts of reasons for
bypassing the Persian Gulf war. We expended our resources to safeguard
their interests. Here is an opportunity for them to do the same for all
of us in preserving the great forests in the developing world. A planet
threatened by rising oceans is in no less peril than one threatened by a
Saddam Hussein. This is a brave new world and quite uncomfortable. But
global warming isn’t very comfortable either.
Planting trees should be a national passion. It should be a
normal and recurring event at schools, in city parks, at factories, in
backyards and front yards. The President should make this a standard
ceremony when visiting various parts of the country. It would be a
ceremony with real moral purpose – a purpose instinctively understood by
The earlier section on recycling is applicable here since it is
the use of wood products to make paper which consumes an enormous number
of trees. We must get to the point where the paper we write on, the
newspapers we read, and the circulars we receive in the mail are all
printed on recycled paper.
One major obstacle here will be some in the press since the
commitment to environmentalism in the editorial department is sometimes
not matched by the vice-president of business operations. The latter
will go on for hours on why today’s high speed newspaper printing
process cannot use recycled paper due to lessened fiber strength.
Come on, fourth estate. Let’s see total leadership here.
Loss of woodlands, open space and farm land is the result of
investment dollars being used for development. The implosion of many of
our urban centers is the result of an absence of investment dollars
being used for development.
We deplore the loss of the natural landscape.
We deplore the decline of our urban centers.
Since neither has to occur, there must be a better way.
Development dollars flow in very prescribed channels. As a
partner in a development company, I know this all too well. Forming
these channels are tax laws, zoning regulations, investment incentives,
and land use policies such as height restrictions, green space
requirements, and the like. Government sets the channels and the market
place responds accordingly. Developers go where government tells them
to go whether or not it makes any sense. The battle over development
pits conservationists against developers. It should be conservationists
against government officials since the developers are only building
where and what the laws allow.
The late 1980’s saw this truth play itself out on Cape Cod. As
chairman of a state environmental task force I had proposed the idea of
a moratorium on development on the Cape. The notion created a firestorm
and I was villified by developers and town officials and state
legislators. They deemed the idea irresponsible and stated their strong
belief that it would die of its own illogic. No elected officials
beyond a few isolated selectmen came to my defense. The Boston
political establishment was nowhere to be found.
Then a funny thing happened. The Boston Globe did a poll and
found that two-thirds of the Cape inhabitants supported the concept and
fully three-fourths endorsed the regional land use planning proposal
known as the Cape Cod Planning Commission. This revelation raised the
political stakes considerably.
When I scheduled a hearing at Cape Cod Community College, I was
picketed and hecklled at by hundreds of developers and construction
workers. In response, the Cape’s conservationist community began to
organize in earnest and the battles lines were drawn. Charges and
countercharges were the order of the day and soon no one was safe from
The issues were placed on the ballot and we won handily. In a
subsequent 1990 special election, the planning commission was enacted
into law despite a severe economic downturn that had seen development
come to a virtual halt.
In the end, the developers saw me and the conservationists as
the enemy. The conservationists, in turn, saw the developers as the
enemy. I, however, did not blame the developers. They were only trying
to make a living. I blamed the elected town officials who had
determined the rules of the game. They were the ones who had allowed
unconstrained development that was at variance with the wishes of their
constituents. They could have prevented the abuses by voting the
appropriate safeguards. They chose not to. As a result, the battle
between developers and the conservationist community was unavoidable.
It could have been otherwise. It should have been otherwise.
It serves little purpose to constantly have these battles over
development issues. The end result is often exhaustion, bitterness
and/or bankruptcy. It would be far better to establish land use
guidelines that everyone understands and which reflect a community’s
consensus. That is what political leadership is paid to do.
The reason that all this means something has to do with two
values. First, it is the preservation of the land that God gave to us.
There is a spirituality to our surroundings. Primitive people
understand this. Modernized people often don’t. Secondly, it is the
retention of the unique character of all the places which make up
America. It is who we are as contrasted to who everyone else in the
The role of the Federal government here is primarily to
articulate the importance of these values and to adopt policies that
support its position. These are essentially local and state matters,
but the feds should also look at their own approaches. It should do a
systematic analysis of existing federal tax laws (such as the various
depletion allowances) to see if they are incompatible with these values
. It should also reexamine the adequacy of tax and funding policies
which would direct investment away from open space to our urban centers
(such as historic preservation tax credits, urban enterprise zones, UDAG
It should further look for other opportunities to preserve open
space. The scheduled closure of some of our military bases that was
announced recently would be such an opportunity.
Finally, it should encourage mayors and governors and
legislatures and city councils to consider the issue more pointedly.
Visits to places that have preserved land or retained a sense of
character should be high on the agenda of top governmental officials,
including the President and Vice President.
Again, as in previous sections, the above is not meant to be
exhaustive of policy initiatives but rather is suggestive of a
philosophy that would cause us to constantly think in terms of an
equilibrium with the earth.
Nothing would serve the cause of environmental equilibrium as
much as population control. Nothing would insure environmental
disequilibrium as much as the world’s population growing uncontrollably.
The same can be said relative to the issues of energy use and world
The earth is simply not capable of accommodating endless human
expansion. We are increasing at a rate of 93 million people a year. In
1830 there were one billion people. In 1990 there are 5.3 billion.
Within the next decade we will increase population equivalent to all the
inhabitants of Africa and South America combined. Towns have become
cities. And cities have become megalopolises. It cannot continue.
The dilemma is not food. We can produce enough to feed the
world’s current population. People starve today because of political
instability and the failure of food distribution systems. The
starvation in Ethiopia and the Sudan is made even more tragic by the
fact that it need not be.
The real dilemma of unconstrained population growth is
First, while food stuffs can be produced every year into
infinity, fossil fuel energy cannot. The earth is energy resource
limited and those limits are very real. (More on this in the next
Secondly, the world’s burgeoning population is streaming into
the major cities, particularly in the third world, and rendering those
cities virtually unworkable. This is a formula for great social and
political upheaval in the wake of serious degradation of even the most
basic quality of life in those cities.
Thirdly, the growing consumption of, and demand for, natural
resources is virtually unsustainable. There is just so much clean air.
Just so much clean water. Just so many available landfills. Just so
many ways to dispose of hazardous wastes. The land and the oceans are
receiving unspeakable volumes of waste each and every day. The earth
was never meant to be a giant waste disposal unit. To pretend that it
can is to threaten human survival.
None of this is new. No one doubts the inevitable consequences
of unlimited population expansion. So why don’t we take it seriously?
The reason, very simply, is domestic politics. The Reagan-Bush
years have been marked by open hostility to family planning worldwide.
While the Democrats supported such efforts as quietly as possible hoping
no one would notice, the Republicans saw it as a clear opportunity to
placate domestic political interest groups.
The Reagan-Bush approach has bought marvelous political
self-benefit at the expense of future social dislocation. And they
don’t care one bit.
We Democrats must care. Our obligation lies beyond the Roger
Ailes perspective. We will be judged in future years by how well and
how forcefully we began the drive for a stable world population. In
this regard the New American Mandate is a moral imperative that is
worldwide in its responsibility.
IV. Energy, Fossil Fuels – Someday There Won’t Be Any
There are two basic realities about energy facing Americans.
First, we have no national energy policy (presuming that importing oil
does not qualify as such a policy). Sadly, it took the war in the
Persian Gulf to again make this obvious. The 1980’s decade of energy
issue avoidance has hopefully come to an end although the White House
may be the last to acknowledge it. Second, our energy use is based
almost exclusively upon the consumption of finite energy resources
(particularly oil) and that is, by definition, unsustainable over the
long term. This will eventually create ever-deepening crises of supply
and cause desperate and powerful nations to seek to acquire remaining
oil reserves by force. All of this was foreseen long ago by energy and
military analysts. Again, witness the Persian Gulf where the world’s
dependence upon foreign oil reserves greatly raised the stakes in the
Put it another way. The earth has provided a finite amount of
fossil fuels for its inhabitants. The number of inhabitants rises every
year increasing total energy use. The per capita consumption of these
fossil fuels also increases as more and more countries become
industrialized and as more and more people enjoy energy-intensive
lifestyles. This dilemma will not be solved by asking developing
countries to forego comforts which we take for granted.
Every year the total energy use is subtracted from what the
earth started out with. Since supply is always heading downward and use
is always heading upward, sooner or later what the nations need will not
be available. At first, prices that are confiscatory beyond measure
will mean that the rich will have energy resources and the poor will
not. But even that inequity will not be sustainable as each year drains
more fossil fuels. Eventually even supply at any price will not be
possible. Nations will continually go to war to survive. Today that is
To make matters worse, most of the earth’s readily obtainable
oil reserves are in one of the most unstable areas of the world
politically. Thus the prospect of war exists into the future, long
after Saddam Hussein has passed from the scene.
The discussion of this issue reveals the limited capacity of
middle-aged decision makers to think in terms beyond their expected
lifespans. When 55 year oil experts talk in glowing terms about a 50
year supply of that resource, that means they are confident of supply
during their expected natural lives. That is reassuring. It is,
however, less reassuring to their 25 year old children who are not
certain they will have died by the age of 75. It is obviously not at
all reassuring to their five year old grandchildren.
Let’s up the estimate to 100 years. Nothing changes in respect
to our moral obligation not to visit certain calamity upon future
generations. This is where the issue of purpose comes into play. This
is where the New American Mandate comes into play.
If we are dealing with a finite resource; if we are depleting
that resource; and if we are not aggressively pursuing policies to bring
about energy use based on renewables; then we are condemning a future
generation to the unspeakable. Which generation? Who knows? The next
one or the one after that or the one after that? The moral burden does
not lift; our purpose must be to assure the survival of those future
We need a national energy policy.
Such a policy must view current use patterns as unacceptable,
particularly the return to overreliance upon imported oil.
It must view the long term goal as minimizing finite resource
use, again, especially oil. The future must be based upon energy
resources that are sustainable.
One mission is to get from here to there in as smooth a
transition as possible. That will take decades, intense investment,
rethinking, and lifestyle modification. The alternative is to request
that God replace all the oil and gas that we’ve consumed. That would
certainly be a lot easier but in case He chooses to let us resolve this
matter by ourselves, an energy policy will be required.
Yearly Supply-Demand Report
The reasons the country doesn’t have an energy policy are
complex. But one reason stems from the fact that the general public has
little idea how much oil, gas and coal reserves we have in this country.
There are experts who know – or think they know – but the average person
is just never brought into the discussion.
There should be an annual Supply-Demand Report detailing the
best estimates of oil, gas and coal reserves. Such data collection is
already being done. But it is buried. This report should be the
subject of focused presidential attention and annual Congressional
The purpose here is simple. If there are actions required to be
taken in order to secure our energy future, they will only be accepted
if the people of this nation know the true facts. During the 1980’s we
reverted back to extreme foreign oil dependence but it was done
silently. Few people in the Congress or on Main Street were aware that
oil imports in 1990 averaged 42%, their highest level since 1979 and up
from 35% in 1973. Oil from the Persian Gulf accounted for 24% of all
U.S. oil imports in 1989, up from 17% in 1987. The Reagan-Bush
administrations saw no need to make reference to or bring these facts
forcefully to the attention of the public. Avoidance politics prevailed
Then, all of a sudden, we are at war in the Persian Gulf and oil
is a critical cause of our involvement. The yearly debate over the
Supply-Demand Report would educate both government officials and the
general public if it were given due notice when it is released.
This one is self-evident. Every barrel of oil not consumed is a
barrel of oil preserved for future generations. Every MCF of gas not
burned, every ton of coal – all are stored in loving deference to our
descendents. This is the New American Mandate extended to those future
Americans whose viability is in our hands. Conservation has become more
mainstream, largely free from the early notions that it was somewhat
“soft.” In those days real tough men produced energy. Conservation was
the domain of the timid little old tree hugger ladies and unwashed
hippies. Today it is the domain of corporate CEO’s who see the savings
to their bottom lines.
Mainstream, however, is not enough. It must become the number
one energy priority. This means a return to the debates of yesteryear –
efficiency standards, tax credits. It also means higher rates of return
for utilities that maximize their commitment to conservation and load
management and a lesser rate of return for utilities that don’t. Such a
rate differential should be significant enough to thoroughly incentivize
utility CEO’s. These companies are our most effective energy army and
they are already deployed. Using them is far preferable to devising new
untested approaches using public employees.
And it can be done. When I became a director of Boston Edison
in 1985 I was a committed conservationist coming into a company that was
known to be hostile to any of the so-called demand side management
The outside environmental community – and the state Department
of Public Utilities – had harshly criticized Boston Edison for its
attitude. I shared much of their perspective and struggled inside the
board to bring about change. This effort led to much company turmoil
and in the end to serious management changes.
Boston Edison is now a recognized leader in demand side
management. But the lesson here is not the obvious one. Yes, there was
inertia. Yes, there was resentment against policies advocated by people
who were always critical anyway. But I believe the major resistance was
pure market place. The regulators and environmentalists were calling
upon Edison to pursue policies that were at variance with the cherished
principles of market share retention and resultant shareholder value.
They were being asked to use their resources to shrink their revenue
base. It was totally counter intuitive for people who had spent their
careers concerned about profitability.
This fierce resistance can instantly become fierce support if
regulators just change the rules. To truly maximize conservation we
must make it in the economic self-interest of utilities to become
Conservation also means higher gasoline prices. As usual,
George Bush blanches when asked to do this by his energy policy
advisers. His recently announced energy policy is warmed over Reagan
with production taking center stage and conservation belittled. It is a
sad lesson of American politics that a President would send troops to
defend oil rich nations but not be willing to take the tough political
steps necessary to reduce domestic oil demand. I understand the
politics. It’s just the ethics that I can’t fathom. Washington should
have a predictable policy of raising the Federal excise tax on gasoline.
It should be raised a certain amount each year, every year, so that
consumers can make sensible decisions about the cars they will drive
before the annual increases go into effect. Three to five cents a year
each year would be one possibility. Nothing, but nothing, promotes the
purchase of fuel efficient cars like anticipated higher gas prices.
That is an unavoidable fact of life. It has been years since automobile
ads spoke of fuel efficiency. All of today’s ads speak of acceleration
and power and mightiness. While this measure will not be well-received,
a three to five cents a year annual increase would not begin to reach
today’s tax levels in virtually all other Western nations. Japan,
Germany and Italy, for example, have gas prices exceeding $3 a gallon.
They have faced the issue. We have only just begun. The loss of
American lives in the Persian Gulf is an unacceptable price to pay for
the once-understandable desire to keep gas prices low. Our need to
lessen oil import dependence should no longer be a national objective
supported by lofty rhetoric but devoid of the meaningful actions needed
to accomplish that objective.
It also means higher federal taxes on fuel inefficient
automobiles that are then rebated, dollar for dollar, to purchasers of
fuel efficient automobiles. The consumer buying a car consistent with
our national energy policy should be subsidized by the consumer buying a
car at variance with that policy.
Finally, it means greater investments in mass transit and the
rail system. These would be funded by the gas tax. Again, those who
use energy efficient means should be rewarded for such use. It is
astonishing to think that we are still debating how much should be
allocated to mass transit as opposed to new highways. This debate can
only happen in an atmosphere wherein no national energy policy exists.
These measures must be matched by all-out efforts to achieve
conservation internationally. The electricity and transportation
systems are particularly inefficient in many third world countries. The
United Nations must put this effort at the top of their energy funding
agenda. We must cause this to happen.
This is the future. Solar, wind, hydro, etc. We were on the
road to making these technologies viable when the Reagan administration
blew away the funding for them. There is an enormous amount of research
and development necessary before some of these technologies become truly
affordable and operational. But in terms of long-term national security
interest, the Gulf crisis should make it clear that energy dependence is
no bargain. Better to spend billions to make those technologies viable
than to spend many more billions funding the consequences of energy
Here again the utilities are prime-time players. Utilities that
aggressively promote these technologies should enjoy a higher rate of
return than those that don’t.
Finally, it should be noted that every dollar spent on
renewables (and conservation) remains in the economy and multiplies. To
the extent that American-based solutions exist, they should be preferred
over imported solutions in pursuit of the simple goal of keeping U.S.
dollars at home. Thus, a dollar paid to an installer of insulation or
invested in a wind energy project stays here and circulates. The
benefit of that over sending a dollar overseas to purchase oil is not
Research into Nuclear Options
This one is not self-evident. But it is necessary nonetheless.
Let’s say we maximize conservation and renewables tomorrow. Let’s also
agree that by doing so we have stretched out the fossil fuel reserves by
twenty, fifty, even one hundred years. There’s still a very real
problem. We will never arrive at a time of energy use based solely on
There must be a major base load energy capability that is
sustainable. Inevitably that capability has to be nuclear. The fact
that this is an unhappy reality does not make it any less of a reality.
The other base-load alternative is massive reliance on coal and that is
not possible in an era of real concern over global warming caused by
carbon dioxide emissions.
Every nuclear power plant operating in the world today
represents millions of barrels of oil not consumed. Indeed, one can,
ironically, argue that we have served our descendants by the use of
nuclear power since they will inherit the oil we did not use. Each
plant also represents tens of millions of dollars not sent to OPEC but
kept in the American economy. This call for nuclear power, of course,
goes against every instinct of most environmentalists. It also offends
those concerned with the issue of nuclear safety and the attendant issue
of the disposal of nuclear waste. These concerns are very real and will
When I was struggling with the issue of nuclear power as a
Congressman and Senator in the 1970’s, there was furious debate among my
staff members and outside advisors. The split saw my strong
environmental supporters aligned with my political advisors. The
argument was clear. Environmentalists were fiercely anti-nuclear. They
were my most dedicated loyalists. And they had valid concerns that were
always being casually dismissed by utilities and governments alike.
Being anti-nuclear would be substantively correct and politically
On the other side was my energy staff person. He was not
unsympathetic to the logic arrayed against him. He thought the nuclear
industry and the utilities had been mindless, stubborn and reactionary.
He thought that they had become their own worst enemy for good reason.
But, he asked, if you eliminate nuclear what do you put in its
stead? What exactly is the replacement process for shutting down the
nuclear option? Tell me specifically what substitutes for what.
At first we provided the expected response about conservation
and renewables. But when you tried to put numbers on them, there was a
huge gap no matter how aggressively we pushed these options.
That left oil, gas and coal. All were finite and oil and coal
had particular problems if you overloaded the system with them. While
gas would be a clean energy source it would not substitute for
In the end, there were no open doors left.
Accepting this was excruciating. Politically it was all
downside. It remains the most difficult and uncomfortable policy
position I have ever taken. But today, more than a decade later, I
still feel the same way.
That doesn’t eliminate the real problems with nuclear energy.
But they have to be viewed in context.
It is much easier to have those concerns dominate our policy
since they are immediate, and the dire consequences that are the focus
of this paper may be decades away. My responsibility is to today, of
course, but it is even stronger to those who have not lived the half
century I have enjoyed. A policy that disregards the viability of our
descendants is a policy of no moral value. This looking beyond
ourselves is part of the return to purpose.
Further, it should be noted that the greenhouse effect is a
compelling argument by itself for nuclear power. If the buildup of
carbon dioxide is indeed a threat to the world’s climate, then an energy
source which produces no carbon dioxide should have some currency. This
is an extremely difficult divide for environmentalists to cross. But
the debate has begun.
It’s a matter of evaluating risks. The risk of a nuclear
accident is quite knowable. The risk of rising oceans has never been
experienced and thus elicits no strong fears. But one can begin to
imagine the dimensions of such a calamity. For me I choose to take the
greenhouse effect very seriously. I hope I’m wrong.
Finally, it is interesting to see how differently governments
have treated this issue of nuclear power. France is a country ruled by
the liberal Socialist Party yet is driving toward virtually full
dependence upon nuclear power. They see it as freedom from oil
dependence and an end to the financial hemorrhaging of that dependence.
Japan and South Korea are strong adherents of nuclear as their
Germany is ruled by the conservative Christan Democrats yet has
closed off the nuclear option. Others have as well.
In the long run which countries will benefit? In my mind, the
French have done the most to secure their energy future. They have
decided upon a course which if followed by other nations will render the
Persian Gulf less critical and thereby less likely to result in the kind
of dilemma we now face there. It will result in less oil demand,
thereby reducing world oil prices and thus lessening the dollars spent
on such oil. Finally, and most importantly, it results in oil never
being consumed as nuclear plants take the place of oil-fired units. The
savings herein are staggering. Oil Imports in 1989 accounted for $45
billion of our $109 billion trade deficit. The 112 nuclear plants
operating that year in the U.S. saved 740,000 barrels of oil per day.
That cut our 1989 oil import bill by $4.7 billion or about 10%. Since
1973, nuclear plants have reduced our trade deficit by a total of $125
billion. As oil prices increase over time the trade deficit reduction
potential of nuclear power will only increase. These are enormous
economic factors which cannot and should not be brushed aside,
especially by a nation with chronic and massive trade deficits, more
than one third of which is strictly due to oil imports.
There are, however, two valid arguments against nuclear power.
First, it is just another avenue to avoid the conservation and renewable
policies that must come first. True. Any nuclear option must follow
conservation and renewables. Any attempt to move to nuclear without
recognizing this maxim is properly doomed to failure. This reality has
been told to the nuclear industry for years but has had no impact as
they continue to view nuclear development as a sainted option and
conservation and renewables as latter-day appeasement of wooly headed
environmentalists. This attitude has served them very poorly indeed.
Secondly, the technologies appropriate for the future are not in
place. There is merit to this argument. The American nuclear industry
consists of scores of nuclear power plants, virtually all of which are
different from one another. The inefficiencies and hazards of this
reality are not to be taken lightly. If every nuclear power plant is
custom-made there will always be problems since every plant has its own
distinct learning curve.
The nuclear industry and the utilities have been foolish in
ignoring these legitimate criticisms. They refused to rethink how the
nuclear option could be perfected and instead chose to defend and
perpetuate past practices. They gave opponents no reason to hope that
critical self-analysis was possible. As a result, today the industry
lies in disarray.
The new nuclear age will require technologies in nuclear fission
which allow for smaller, safer, modular power plants in limited design
options. Knowledge will have to be transferrable so that talented
personnel will be transferrable.
There will not be any more 1200 megawatt power plants. They are
too costly and no utility in this day and age is going to take the risk
of building one. Nor should they. In this case, smaller is indeed
better. The future is in the 300-500 megawatt range. What about cost?
They will be expensive but the case for nuclear is not its cost. It is
preserving fossil fuels, lessening the hazards of oil dependence,
reducing the trade deficit and minimizing carbon dioxide output. The
federal government is going to have to invest in developing these new
prototypes in concert with industry. There must be a sharing of the
financial risk in order to move rapidly. This joint venture would seek
the development of two or three prototype models based on today’s design
and engineering capability rather than attempt to add bells and whistles
onto twenty to thirty year old blueprints.
What about the disposal of nuclear wastes? This is not a simple
matter since we are talking about materials that will long outlive us.
But the problem already exists. It exists outside the nuclear power
industry because of military uses primarily, but also research and
medical applications as well. Given the choice of finding a
technological solution to limited amounts of nuclear waste and finding a
technological solution to massive quantities of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere, I will choose the former. Not because its easy but because
the latter is undoable. But the fact remains that the disposal
issue has been brushed aside. To advocate for nuclear must be to commit
upfront to the funding necessary to secure the disposal option. Neither
the nuclear industry nor the federal government has chosen to face up to
this. Until a disposal option is identified and accepted, we will
always be at a standstill.
What about the concern for future generations if we leave this
nuclear waste behind? This is a serious argument. But again a choice.
Nuclear waste stored in deep salt mines versus a world in conflict over
diminishing fossil fuels. Once more I choose the former. Not because
it’s easy but because the consequences of the latter are all too
The research community must also be funded to develop
non-fission alternatives. There are compelling reasons to push
aggressively for fusion options (or others not now known) that may be
much safer and more inexhaustible. We are talking about an availability
that stretches well into the 21st century. But that is when its need
will be most critical. This must be a kind of mini-Manhattan Project of
the future. A nuclear source that can never turn into a Chernobyl. A
nuclear source that can light the darkness for those who come
generations later without the dilemma of waste disposal. This is the
necessary technology for us to develop in order to secure our safety and
our descendants’ safety.
Finally, it should be noted that there are other serious
economic consequences of the United States losing its technological edge
in nuclear power. If we let our capability wither, as we are now doing,
sooner or later there will not be an American company able to build a
nuclear power plant. All of the know-how will be Japanese or French or
whatever. And when the world recognizes the need for non-fossil fuel
base-load generation and turns to nuclear we will again have lost our
competitive position. The trade implications of this are obvious. But
it also means loss of U.S. influence on issues such as safety design and
waste disposal. The role of the federal government is critical here
because only it can take the steps necessary to coordinate the emergence
of the new nuclear power option. The President and Congress must
jointly agree as to the necessity for this option and then provide the
leadership to work with industry to make it happen. This will involve
issues such as funding, regulation and site selection.
People who don’t like to contemplate the nuclear option will
want to take refuge in the notion that we can always go back to finding
more fossil fuels.
People who dismiss conservation and renewables will do the same.
Let’s go out and extract more oil and gas. This is, in essence,
the current policy.
The scarcity of oil reserves contrasts with the more plentiful
reserves of gas in North America so the two are not to be seen as
identical. But the prime weakness here is the obvious – the more we
find and extract, the less there will be. We obviously do need a
vibrant oil and gas drilling and production capability. For the next
few decades this capacity is absolutely essential.
But beyond the available U.S. oil reserves, particularly in the
Southwestern states, the options are less attractive.
Take the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. There are two possible
approaches. First, go in, exploit it and secure the several months at
most supply said to possibly exist there. Whatever environmental damage
occurs, that is just the price that has to be paid.
Second, keep the oil in the ground, preserve the environment and
treat that oil (if it exists) as available to future generations whose
need will be much more acute than ours. Obviously, the first approach
offers greater current political advantage. The second, however, offers
greater fulfillment to the generational responsibility. Guess which one
George Bush chose?
But the second also offers strategic value as well. As we face
future crisis after future crisis occasioned by our dependence upon
foreign oil, are we not better positioned if we have put into place
alternatives and conservation and have the maximum amount of fossil
fuels still in the ground? Put another way, does not a Drain America
First approach maximize our vulnerability?
But beyond these arguments, the Bush proposal to open up the
Artic Wildlife Refuge bespeaks of how much our oil addiction has
diminished all our other values. Alaska is not just another place. It
is the most beautiful and most preserved land on earth. It is, by far,
the grandest gesture we have made in deference to God’s wondrous
creation. To seek to put the wildlife refuge at risk while balking at a
gasoline tax to achieve the same net result is hypocrisy in the extreme
for someone who talked about wanting to be the environmental president.
The Democrats in 1992 should commit to veto any effort to despoil this
part of Alaska as a substitute for an inevitable energy policy. In many
respects, this issue is a “defining moment” for our values as keepers of
the land, protectors of nature’s wildlife and guardians of the energy
needs of our descendents.
But even in the lower forty-eight states, the concern is where
the fossil fuels will come from. Once the relatively easy oil and gas
reserves are tapped you begin to get into some pretty dicey
alternatives. Drilling a hole to extract oil is one thing. Crushing a
mountain to extract oil shale is quite another. Drilling a hole to
extract gas is one thing. Mining arid regions of the country for coal
is quite another.
This is not to argue against fossil fuel development. That will
happen and should happen in the decades of transition. Indeed, the
nation is looking to natural gas to step in and substitute for oil in
ways unexpected just a few years ago.
This, combined with the development of ethanol, methanol and
other alternative fuels, offers real time hope of lessening our Persian
Gulf addiction. However, the fact remains that the
conservation/renewables/nuclear options should be put at the head of the
energy line. Only by doing that can we contemplate the wonders of
grandchildren and great grandchildren without the burden of knowing we
have sacrificed them for our own comfort and convenience.
V. Foreign Policy – Time to Heal Thyself
Since the end of World War II the United States has held the
Soviet Union at bay. The policy was called containment. It was a test
of American resolve and determination that has extended for more than
Today we have witnessed the triumph of that policy. By
containing communism, we allowed its inherent contradictions to
eventually cause its downfall. Communism did not fall to invading
armies or to an onslaught of nuclear warheads. Its demise was the
result of two internal phenomena. First, the sense of injustice which
fueled Marxist-Leninism soon gave way to police states wherever
communism was dominant. Freedom was the first casualty of this
“worker’s paradise.” Anyone crossing through Checkpoint Charlie into
East Berlin could not avoid the heavy sense of oppression that
characterized all of Eastern Europe. Second, the allure of communism as
a cureall for the ills of capitalism came apart as more and more
countries found that communism equalled petty corruption, bureaucratic
inefficiency and economic stagnation. A system based on the theory of
noble common interest faltered upon the reality that human beings need
incentives that relate to themselves and their families. There must be
a causal relationship between hard work and reward if there is to be
hard work. Communism as an economic system destroyed that relationship.
The result was thus inevitable. This inevitability, however, required
time to manifest itself. It was containment that bought that time.
The price paid by America (and its allies to a much lesser
extent) was enormous. Thousands of lives were given to protect freedom
and trillions of dollars were expended as well. But the wisdom of Harry
Truman has been borne out by history. Contain communism. Believe in
the fundamental superiority of democracy and the free enterprise system.
Hold fast and eventually people’s yearning to be free and to provide
their families with a decent standard of living will prevail. He was
right. It took an awfully long time but it was accomplished without one
nuclear warhead being fired in anger.
The collapse of the Berlin Wall brought the Cold War to an end.
It will take a decade to mop up the remains but they will be mopped up.
There will undoubtedly be setbacks as the Soviet Union suffers through
the terrible throes of transition. Even if there were to be a new
rightist regime in Moscow, it would be unlike the Soviet Union of the
past forty-five years. The reason is quite simple. The Warsaw Pact is
The fearsome armies of East Germany are now but memories as the
Germanys have united in an emotional embrace that has turned the faces
of the East Germans toward the West. Elsewhere throughout the Warsaw
Pact, playwrights and union leaders have become heads of state and
freedom is savored as only it can be tasted by the formerly enslaved.
Within the Soviet Union as well the question is not one of a
possible Warsaw Pact army moving westward across Europe. The question
is whether various republics will remain as part of the Soviet Union.
And the answer is almost assuredly not. There will be new nations based
on old identities. Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are but the beginning
of a long debate over what constitutes a viable national state that can
And, finally, even within core Russia, the forces of freedom and
self-expression have been loosened. Each day adds to the deeper rooting
of expectations. The traditions of parliamentary debate, of open
citizen criticism, of religious observance, of free market
experimentation are all quite fragile. But they now exist in the minds
of the Soviet people reinforced by images of the rampant freedom being
experienced by their fellow citizens in Eastern Europe.
This is the joy of a great emancipation. But this is the
honeymoon. More difficult days will follow as the harsh realities of
transition set in. This is not a transition to be marked in months or
years. It will take decades. And the long road will provide endless
opportunities for demagogues to stake their claim to leadership. The
sheer amount of dashed expectations will create mountains of bitterness
and resentment as the coming economic dislocations set in.
Freedom is lovely. But chaos is frightening. And sooner or
later there will be those who will take advantage of the deep
instinctive fear of public disorder. One must understand that the
alternative to Mikhail Gorbachev is not just Boris Yeltsin. It is the
hardline military conservatives as well. The 1990’s will see events in
the Soviet Union (and Eastern Europe) which will not be pretty.
It is essential here to understand two fundamental points.
First, a Soviet Union in transition will always pose a certain danger to
us but that danger is not the risk of advancing Warsaw Pact armies
preceding a carefully planned nuclear attack. It is the danger of an
unstable leadership which happens to be well armed. It is the danger,
not of miscalculation, but unbalanced desperation. As long as nuclear
weapons exist in such vast numbers they cannot be allowed to drift from
Second, it is in everyone’s interest to make the Soviet
transition as smooth as possible. The less the economic chaos, the less
will be the risk of political extremism. The Western nations must help
demonstrate to the Soviet people that there is a light at the end of the
democratic tunnel. Economic deprivation makes freedom less relevant to
a people. We must ensure that economic hope is not extinguished within
the minds of the Soviet citizenry.
This means a coalition of North American, EEC and Pacific Rim
nations meeting at an economic summit with the Soviets (and the East
Europeans) and hammering out Marshall Plan II. This will be a Marshall
Plan not to contain communism but to keep it in its grave (the hard
view) or to enable a long suffering people to enjoy the fruits of
freedom at long last (the benign view). Instead of arraying our forces
of war against the East, let us demonstrate the genius of democracy by
unleashing the true generosity inherent in free nations. This
generosity will involve the usual forms of assistance but it must
include as well the transfer of knowledge. The task here is to bring
into being the organizational infrastructure necessary for economic
reforms to succeed. This is not just a matter of letters of credit or
food aid. It is fundamentally a matter of providing skills and
experience and management. These are human talents that can only be
transferred by other human beings. It obviously involves the deployment
of various Western corporate and academic entities. But it also means
Western experts such as retired business executives and consultants on
leave devoting themselves to the great task of the 1990’s and beyond –
the full integration of the former Warsaw Pact into the commonwealth of
nations. Such an integration will also enable us to have a greater
capability to influence the outcome of the independence movements in the
Finally, a thought about how we have been affected by our
relationship with this great Asian continental nation. Both the USSR
and the United States spent the latter part of this century preparing
for war against each other. This constant tension gave us our worst
risk of loss of civil liberties (McCarthyism), our closest brush with
annihilation (Cuban Missile Crisis) and our most bitter foreign
involvement (Vietnam). All those are past. What is not is the economic
price that both countries have paid. We are both like muscle bound
weight lifters who now have little use for all the accumulated
intercontinental muscle. The contest now is not weight lifting but long
distance running. All around are the smaller, quicker nations who
devoted themselves to business while we were both focused on
confrontation. As one observer has noted “the Cold War is over and the
Both the United States and the Soviet Union need to ramp down
their military machines to levels that provide true military security
without rendering them economically impotent. There will be a lot of
sorting out as we seek to find the appropriate level. I would opt to
reduce our troop commitments overseas and retain the research and
development capabilities. There is no military might in a nation
impoverished by an inability to compete in the global marketplace.
There is no sustainable military might when the national economy is in
decline. This must be the most significant underpinning of the New
American Mandate. The Soviets face that reality now. But we face it
The New World Order
Harken a new chapter of world peace and harmony? Sadly not.
But one must rejoice about the passing of the spectre of the superpowers
having at each other in a fit of nuclear miscalculation. We have been
delivered from the immediate threat of nuclear winter.
This deliverance, however, has given center stage to other
destructive forces as we have now witnessed in the extreme. They are
not the aftermath of the East-West confrontation. They are local; they
are regional; they are linguistic; they are religious; they are ethnic;
they are economic; they are tribal.
The world seems capable of offering up an endless array of
bloody incidents on virtually every continent. The Persian Gulf has our
attention but it is only the latest crisis. El Salvador, Ghana,
Rumania, Argentina, South Africa, China, Panama, Liberia, Kuwait, India,
East Timor, Haiti, Afghanistan, Phillipines, on and on. A year from now
there will be others. The overlay of East versus West, of conflict
based on capitalism versus Marxist-Leninism, is gone. That context hid
other determining forces that are now free to roam at will across the
landscape of the lesser developed world. Many of these countries are
not rooted in centuries of jurisprudence and democratic institutions.
For some of them, their history as a country is measured only in post
World War II terms. Many of the boundaries of these countries were
artificially determined by outsiders to accommodate foreign agendas.
Often those boundaries cut across natural groupings or put historically
rival groupings in the same nation.
Creating a nation requires a great deal more than geography.
There must be a sense of people, a sense of common history. Many of
today’s nations lack these essential attributes. They are square pegs
trying to fit into round holes carved by others. For some, the future
cannot hold as tribal or ethnic or religious rivalries come roaring back
from their bloody pasts. Added to this basic disequilibrium is the
communications technology available worldwide which has raised
expectations concerning freedom, standards of living, health care and
the like. Many of these expectations will not be met.
Thus, we have a world where possible mass annihilation by
nuclear warheads has given way to continuous individual and small group
death by machetes, AK-47’s and tanks.
What does the United States do in these situations?
The End of Pax Americana
It is clear that we cannot intercede in every case where clashes
have broken out. Most of these conflicts are going to involve the loss
of innocent life and the temptation is going to be to go in and somehow
make things all right. That temptation is a snare and must be resisted.
There is going to be a lot of sorting out in the years ahead as groups
go against groups in countries where the institutional bonds are weaker
than the bonds of ethnicity or religion. And often they are weaker than
the acute remembrance of past injustices. Horrid affairs will take
place and we must try to contribute to their prevention as much as
possible. But no American blood should be casually spilled taking sides
in the internal affairs of woeful nations. Our good offices, yes, but
not our blood. The threshhold of American involvement must be raised to
a level consistent with clear national interests that are embraced by
the American people.
A clear example of this is Lebanon. In 1982 I stood on the
balcony of the American ambassador’s residence in East Beirut and
watched Israeli planes bombing PLO positions in West Beirut. The night
sky was illuminated with flares. Nearby Christian gun positions would
occasionally fire in the direction of Moslem-held West Beirut. The
scene below me was so different from anything I had ever seen before
that it required an effort to believe that it was real and that people
were dying in buildings I could barely discern. It was a scene out of
The natural instinct was to somehow intervene to end the
bloodshed. But when I met with leaders from the various factions during
my stay it was clear that ethnic and religious differences combined with
past horrors were beyond any rational arbitration. There were forces at
play that were primal and they would not be easily contained. Not by
us, not by any western nation. Perhaps not even by any nation. Today,
almost a decade later, there still is not peace.
A more difficult situation arises where borders are at stake.
Herein there are other considerations that come into play –
considerations that speak to the essential concepts of national
sovereignty and non-aggression. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is such an
example. It had to be addressed.
In most instances the United States will not have great national
interests at stake. In some cases, such as the Persian Gulf, the
American dependence on imported oil raises the stakes considerably. Our
economic vital interests, caused by our almost twenty year failure to
bring about energy self-sufficiency, will continue to make us vulnerable
to whatever winds blow in that part of the world.
We cannot, however, allow ourselves to continually become the
policeman of the world sending our youth to areas of great risk and
pouring our national treasure into the fray. There must be a police
force in future instances but we should only be part of the contingent.
We must not be the whole contingent or even the majority of the
Efforts are going to have to be made to provide a United Nations
Security Force with real teeth. This will not happen overnight and
there are years of negotiations ahead to make it a reality. But one
thing is for sure. America no longer can afford the role it has assumed
since the end of World War II. Pax Americana must give way to Heal
Thyself. This is not isolationism. It is participation in a new
internationalism truly based on the principle of collective security.
This principle has been articulated for decades but remains in the realm
of rhetoric not reality. The United States must cause it to become the
basis for a new Pax Mundi. True collective security means true
collective burden sharing. The effort in the Persian Gulf is a step in
that direction but the journey is by no means complete.
Other nations, especially those with great trade surpluses, have
enjoyed a free ride as we willingly take up causes around the world.
American blood is shed and we spend billions upon billions of dollars
that should be spent at home to reinvigorate our economically depleted
nation. We are seen as willing to fight battles for everyone else and
rarely insistent that other nations truly participate up to their
proportionate share. The attitude used to be that we would never really
push other nations on these kind of issues so long as they were strong
allies in confronting the Soviets. Those days are over.
There is a new world order, but we don’t truly act that way. We
need our resources at home. We have a Herculean task to steady our
economic ship of state and to get out from under our crushing national
debt. This is the first priority and all the other priorities come
after it. Indeed, if we don’t attend to our economic peril, we won’t be
in a position to be of help to anyone.
The time has come to confront our allies with tough choices.
Either they have interests at stake here or they don’t. If they do,
then they must either participate fully or be prepared to see those
interests adversely affected. This new order will come hard to
countries who have prospered under our military umbrella and devoted
their resources to build mighty economies. For them, the message must
be that the party is over.
We have suffered our Vietnam. We have seen our Marines killed
in Beirut. Our troops in Saudi Arabia are the majority force that
contained the madness of Saddam Hussein, while not one Japanese or
German life was at risk. Yet Japan is the most dependent upon Persian
Gulf oil of all the industrialized nations in the world. They had
enormous economic interests at stake. Yet the Japanese say that their
constitution, unfortunately, prevents their involvement. The Germans
sold all kinds of weaponry to Iraq including those necessary for
chemical warfare. They even sold goods to Iraq after the embargo had
been imposed. Rather than participate with other Europeans, however,
the Bonn government chose to play the role of bystander. The Germans
say that they want to devote their resources to reincorporating East
Germany. We should say enough! They have vital interests here. They
cannot be allowed to obviate their clear responsibilities by hesitantly
providing contributory funds under duress. They are doing only what
they have to in order to quell American public outrage.
There will not be a new world order until and unless other major
countries are prepared to invest the blood of their sons and daughters
and the wealth of their treasuries in the duties of the peacekeeper.
Our actions must force this new world order. We must not delay it by
pretending we have unlimited young soldiers and unlimited resources to
spend all over the world.
There are three choices before us:
1. Allow military agression across borders to go
2. Deploy American troops, alone if necessary, as each
new world trouble spot erupts.
3. Put into place the new world order of multi-national
peacekeeping where the United States is a major
player but only in reasonable proportion to its
Option #1 will lead to world chaos. There is no viable recourse
for America that removes us from the responsibilities of a great global
nation. Our military strength and our democratic values are world
resources. The issue is not whether to be involved but how to be
involved. To some Americans the temptation is to embrace a kind of
latter day isolationism. But it will never be. We are the hub around
which allied democratic nations revolve. That reality cannot be
ignored. Iraq could not have been allowed to conquer Kuwait with
Option #2 will bankrupt America and cause undue personal grief
to the families of our servicemen and women. This is the policy that
our allies desperately wish us to continue. They must be made to
understand that an economically crippled and divided America serves no
one’s interest over the long term. Japan and Germany are not safer with
an America in economic receivership. It is truly galling that these
nations have managed to secure the safety of their youth while their
interests were defended by American men and women.
Option #3 must be the basis of our foreign policy. Only Pax
Mundi can call upon American military resources in a manner consistent
with our prevailing national needs. We are but five percent of the
world’s population. We are the greatest debtor nation the world has
ever known. We suffered about 60% of the coalition casualties in the
Persian Gulf. These are facts. Let’s have a foreign policy that
recognizes these facts and establishes the new world order in practice
as well as in theory. We may be the most important policeman in the
international police force and we can accept that. But we should never
allow ourselves to become the latter day paid soldiers for nations who
feel no moral obligation to sacrifice their own citizens.
The Third World
There is a pattern to our travails abroad. When it comes to
dealing with a superpower we are reasonably comfortable that we know our
enemy. The Russians have been more European than not in their 20th
century history and mannerisms. We have a good sense of how they think
and what motivates them.
The same is true with our NATO allies and the Warsaw Pact
nations. East-West we know. All of our decision makers were groomed in
the school of East-West relations. It is where we have the “touch” that
allows policies to have some hope of success. By contrast virtually
none of our leaders came of age in the North-South context. They then
must rely on position papers prepared by others unaided by their own
personal “feel” for such matters.
The Third World is very different. And we don’t truly
understand it. In Vietnam we imposed an East-West overlay on the Third
World. It was assumed that ideological dynamics were the same
everywhere. The domino theory drove our decisions there but Vietnam
fell and the predicted onrush of Communist triumphs around the world
never materialized. What happened? Who knows? No one ever felt it was
important enough to hold Congressional hearings on the reason why the
conceptual centerpiece of our rationale turned out to be in error. The
war was over and no one had the stomach to try and figure out how the
best and brightest could not understand what was happening inside the
minds of friends and foe alike. An unhappy chapter. So much sacrifice.
Let’s put it behind us. It was just too painful.
We never tried to figure out what we didn’t know.
Many hotspots of the future will be in the Third World. These
potential conflicts will arise most probably over resource questions or
attempts to “remedy” colonially-imposed, artificial borders. How can we
deal with these as they come upon us? The resolution of these potential
crises cannot be endless military engagement. There are just too many
disputed borders, ethnic rivalries and unbalanced heads of state. These
non-U.S.-Soviet confrontations must be the business of the world
community but there is a limit to the capacity and willingness of
countries to be militarily involved. These confrontations call for a
new commitment to the rule of law in conflict mediation. Such mediation
should be by entities that are perceived to be as third world in their
composition as reasonably possible.
This means the strengthening of existing multilateral
institutions. It means the creation of new mechanisms with sufficient
muscle to enforce the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes. The
old adage of speak softly and carry a big stick remains relevant today.
When territorial and/or resource disputes do arise, such
disputes should be forced into binding and timely international
arbitration. The objective here is to create a moral and legal process
that is created by the entire world community and not by the usual
Western players alone. If the dispute is not resolved satisfactorily,
the World Court should be given in reality what it has only been given
in theory throughout the Cold War era, namely the power to adjudicate
Should a potential aggressor refuse to seek a remedy through
binding arbitration or the World Court, or ignore the ruling of such
bodies, then economic sanctions as the primary enforcement tool should
be implemented swiftly and completely. And they should be kept in place
until shown to be inadequate. The world community has demonstrated that
strict sanctions can be implemented effectively, witness the global
response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Should sanctions fail the
capability must exist to exercise the military option under United
Herein it is essential that any future military actions clearly
have the appearance and substance of United Nations supervision. This
will require a great deal of rethinking because the current United
Nations peacekeeping structure would not have been able to counter
Saddam Hussein in time to prevent his possible invasion of Saudi Arabia,
let alone evict him from Kuwait. The world’s nations are going to have
to sit down and decide how to give the United Nations effective military
capability consistent with the concept of national sovereignty. It will
require extensive negotiations obviously. But the world will be better
served if the Saddam Hussein wannabes of the future have less room to
miscalculate world reaction to unacceptable endeavors. And we in the
West will be better served if such military responses are not perceived
by third world peoples as Western actions against non-Westerners.
Finally, it’s urgent that we spend the time necessary to
understand how Third World nations think. They are not mini copies of
Western nations. They are different peoples with different cultures –
cultures no less worthy of our respect and understanding. They all need
to be thought of as separate and sovereign. If we can do this we can
avoid some of the quagmires that we have experienced in the past.
The nations of the Third World have a vastly different
perspective than we do. Some are consumed with fears and resentments
about the former colonial powers. Some have an inherent uneasiness with
nations that are mostly white and Western. Many of them deal from
feelings of insecurity and non-acceptance. They don’t act as we in the
West would expect because their cultures and histories and institutions
are not the same as ours. Fundamentally, many of them do not believe
that we respect them. And, sadly, they are often correct. We think
that human history and the Judeo-Christian tradition are the same thing.
Perhaps we can see how offensive that is to the billions of people who
don’t share that tradition. The Persian Gulf war has demonstrated this
dilemma. Saddam Hussein was able to tap into reserves of sympathy in
the Moslem world when the bombing of Iraq occurred. This despite the
obvious lawlessness and brutality of his invasion of Kuwait. How could
these people support such a dictator who had savagely killed other Arab
people? The answer lies not in rationality but in the perception that
this was Iraq versus the United States and a handful of Western allies.
It is said that war is politics by other means. True. Future military
actions must carefully calibrate the long term political implications of
our strategic decision making.
It is in the self-interest of the United States to encourage our
colleges and universities to focus more effort on the history and mores
of non-Western cultures. We need to understand the thinking of Islam.
We need to know the legacy of American involvement with regimes in Latin
America. We need to be aware of the many cultures that determine the
thinking of Asian and African nations just as thoroughly as they seek to
understand the West.
We cannot presume that the rest of the world thinks that way we
do. There are powerful factors at work that cause nations and peoples
to have particular lenses through which they view events around them.
While this may sound self-evident I can attest to how easy it is
not to see it.
I vividly recall how much my perspective changed during my two
years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia. I lived in a town/village
called Wolisso and taught in the local school.
In the summer between school years I remained in Wolisso to work
on a building project. For that period of time I was the only Peace
Corps Volunteer there. I found myself beginning to think like an
Ethiopian for the first time. I also found myself looking at
non-Ethiopians through Ethiopian eyes.
Since Wolisso was on the road from the capital city of Addis
Ababa to the provincial capital of Jimma there was occasional traffic
through the town. Often they came at dangerously high speeds given the
fact that the road was usually full of people, including children, and
various kinds of livestock.
One day, while walking along the road towards the building site,
I had to jump off of the side of the road as a car barrelled past. The
driver of the large car was an Ethiopian. My reaction and that of the
Ethiopians near me was clear irritation. Another arrogant upper-class
Ethiopian. But it was soon dismissed as how things unfortunately were.
Just as we had returned to the road to continue on our way,
another car came at us at a similarly irresponsible speed. Again, we
all had to jump into the shallow gully at the side of the road.
As the car sped by with the horn blaring we all noticed that the
driver was white – either an American or a European. My reaction was
not merely irritation but anger. Real anger. I wanted to chase after
the culprit and pummel him. The Ethiopians responded even more
strongly. They began to shout to each other about the cursed “ferengi”
Both drivers had committed the same act. Both had jeopardized
the same people. But there the sameness ended. History and perception
and culture and nationalism came into play and caused the reaction of
the Ethiopians to each miscreant to be radically different. Even I was
rendering separate judgments. In the year that followed, I became
acutely aware of this dichotomy and had no difficulty in seeing it in
It serves no purpose to argue that all of this is illogical.
Logic and politics are not the same thing. And if we are going to be
players in the non-Western world, we’d better understand the hearts and
minds of its people.
But recourse to isolationism is not possible.
It is inevitable that we will be involved in other Third World
crises after Kuwait. It is then imperative that such involvements only
occur based on a true understanding of the political and cultural forces
at play and not just an assessment of military capabilities.
The evolution to Pax Mundi is going to require a great deal more
knowledge than we now have. We are always going to be a major player on
the world scene, perhaps the dominant player. With American lives at
risk, we have the moral duty to know what we are getting into.
VI. The Culture of America: The Essential Need
Much of what has been written herein deals with policies and
rationalities. I have attempted to analyze issues as objectively as
possible and to put forth real world solutions. The effort has been to
cast off excessive dogma and to confront what is coldly before us. For
some, this paper should now end at Chapter V.
What follows will seem somewhat ephemeral compared to the
previous chapters. It will deal in matters less concrete but, to me, at
least as relevant. It is the realm that has been mostly ignored just
because it doesn’t lend itself to hard data or legislative initiatives
or regulatory changes.
But there is more to America’s renewal than policies and
programs and realities. There is also the wondrous matter of human
will. And there is the wondrous matter of societal cohesion.
There is no rational explanation for excellence and achievement
if one depends only upon predictions based on quantitative data.
Potential is not performance. Capacity is not output. There is a much
deeper dimension. That dimension is the will of particular human beings
to excel. It is their unrelenting drive to reach beyond. That
dimension is also the capacity of a people to act in united purpose and
to achieve greatness by reasons of their cohesion.
Where do these characteristics come from? Why do some
individuals and some peoples have them despite serious shortcomings and
others not have them despite every advantage? How do you foster them?
How do you extend them throughout a society? How do you cause a society
to properly value them? I believe that the single greatest determinant
of human will and societal cohesion is the culture that embraces and
sustains a people. Culture is what gives us lift and what, in its
absence, can render us pitiable.
To be part of a culture is to be truly blessed. It provides a
sense of lineage – a knowing that one is part of something that reaches
far into the past, a reassurance that one is part of a continuum, a
strength that comes from bonding with one’s ancestors as well as with
one’s contemporaries. One is never alone because one is woven into a
larger fabric with other people and with shared values.
Not to be part of a culture is a curse. There is only the
present, only the temporal. Values and morals are ad hoc, a sorting out
on a day-to-day basis. There is no spiritual frame of reference. One
floats through life in search of a sense of a larger belonging that, if
found, is merely grafted on, not brought up from within.
The great nations of history have many differences. But they
have one commonality – strong, vibrant, inclusive cultures. So it is
with any human grouping. It is true for families, providing its members
with a capacity to begin to answer the inevitable inquiry “Who am I?”
The mere grouping of individuals does not, by itself, make a
family. There must be a strong sense of mutual concern and a common
purpose. Correspondingly, the mere grouping of multitudes does not, by
itself, make a nation. There must be the glue that holds these
multitudes firmly in a common embrace. There must be a culture that
speaks to the people.
Occasionally individuals not blessed with a coherent culture
will rise above their circumstances and achieve greatness.
Nations never do.
A nation’s fate is inescapably a function of the strength of its
culture. History certainly shows us that. Coherent binding cultures
create great nations for good or for ill. Centrifugal national cultures
create dissolution and disarray, always for ill.
Why does history record great advances by a people in a
particular era and no advances by a different people in precisely the
same era? Why do a people advance in one time period and then seem to
regress in another?
The answer does not lie in factors like natural resources,
geography or political systems alone.
Often, the difference is culture.
Will, discipline, dedication, commitment, patriotism,
togetherness, caring, reaching out – these are the manifestations of a
How one defines culture is, of course, an endless debate. For
me, it involves the values that emerge in the person. It defines what
constitutes a life of worth and what constitutes one’s obligations
beyond self. It involves the sense of being part of a clearly defined
society which readily accepts you and whose mores you honor deeply. It
demands that we view our fellow countrymen as brothers and sisters whose
condition and fate is of true importance to us. It is the fusion of
scores of different ethnic lineages into a vibrant continental nation.
It is E Pluribus Unum. Not only in legal and constitutional terms but
in the truest sense of a people bonded together.
The role of the New American Mandate is to strengthen our
commonality. We have to mold our many diverse cultures here in America
into a more cohesive “national family” where the emphasis is put on such
intangibles as self-esteem, inclusion, work ethic, education, pride in
quality products, commitment to learning, caring for each other. We
have to talk about and debate and ponder how we can reinforce the
cohesiveness that connects us to each other and reinforces our sense of
attachment. We must understand the constant need to nurture community.
For it is this community which allows us to share goals. And it enables
us to sense collective danger and to respond to that danger as a whole
people. To compete with societies with strong cultures requires an
equally strong culture. It’s that simple. This is not commonality for
the sake of commonality. It’s knowing that while commonality is
critical in creating a noble society, it is, more importantly, the sine
qua non of having a viable economic future. It is the necessary
There are many parts to this discussion. What follows are
examples of an attitude. The fundamental point here, however, is
straightforward. Our leaders, both public and private, must, above all,
commit to strengthening our national culture and to make mighty the
spiritual bonds that make us a people.
Minorities – Racial, Ethnic, Religious, Economic
Whose country is this anyway? Whose history is it? Are the
founding fathers the ancestors of all of us? Or just some of us? When
a young black child sees a picture of George Washington, what are the
feelings compared to when he sees a picture of Martin Luther King? Does
a child of Greek immigrants feel more connected to Thomas Paine or to
Aristotle? Do Cambodian refugees from the killing fields feel true
kinship with 18th century Yankee farmers? Does an American Jew at
worship feel more linked to the Puritans or to those who suffered in the
Holocaust? How does a Mexican-American sort out his feelings about the
Alamo? And do Native Americans really think that the history of America
began with Christopher Columbus?
We are a diverse people. Unlike many other countries, our
national history and most of our family histories do not coincide. Some
Americans are descendents of those who crossed the Bering land mass.
Others arrived yesterday by jet from Bulgaria. As we trace our national
history most of us come to a time when our families were not here. They
were part of the history of another place. So which history is
relevant? Both? Only one? If only one, which one?
The magical bond created by hundreds, even thousands, of years
of one people in one place is not available to us. Our history is much
shorter. Our family roots spread out all over the world. We must work
resolutely at nurturing cultural cohesiveness because it is not given to
us in the same fashion that it has been given to some others.
The absence of such cohesiveness is alienation.
Many of our people sense an otherness. They sense that there is
an inner circle in America and they are not part of it. The
problem is not statutory. We have passed the appropriate laws. The
obstacles are not institutional. Most companies and institutions
actively seek diversity in the work force. The obstacles are less
tangible. They exist in the minds of both the established and the
disestablished. It is very powerful for something so subtle.
The laws and the principles embodied in the Declaration of
Independence and the Constitution opened the gates to a glorious land of
equal opportunity. But nirvana remains elusive.
Equal opportunity, we have learned, is more than an open gate.
It is the appropriate complement of skills and fundamental self-esteem
that makes the open gate meaningful. To just open the gate is to engage
in cruel gesture no matter how innocently it is done.
The nation must address the non-statutory needs of our fellow
countrymen and countrywomen. It’s not just money. It’s creating a
culture of true inclusivity. It’s sending out the message that we will
go out of our way to make sure that skills and self-esteem are part of
the package. Not just government programs. It’s one-on-one, human
being to human being, volunteerism and private institutional outreach.
Mentoring in the public schools as described earlier is an
example but it’s more than that. It is a way of thinking. It’s white,
male America truly pondering what its like to be a woman or a person of
color and trying to break through to acceptance. It’s recognizing that
the presumptions of equal opportunity taken for granted by well-educated
and affluent white males are not possible for those who every day cannot
rest in the assurance that they are automatically esteemed.
That esteem must be established.
If it is not, we will always have a lesser society. We will
also always have an underclass. And it will be increasingly alienated.
It will be an unending source of violence to itself and to others. And
it will serve as a monstrously heavy burden on our society as we seek to
compete with societies free of such inner turmoil. Indeed, it will
preclude any hope of competing successfully.
Diversity – The Wonders and The Limits
There is no more perfect American portrait than a schoolyard of
children of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. It is the vision,
the inspiration of what America can be. A diverse America in harmony
with itself is equipped to be the greatest social and economic nation on
this multicultural planet.
The national discussion about diversity has included its
glorification and its damnation. Some see it as a Godsend, some see it
as the devil’s work.
The challenge here is to understand that diversity gives us
composite strength, but that strength can only exist within a
commonality that holds us together. I believe there are unavoidable
components to that commonality.
First is language. An America with scores of different
languages is truly rich in its texture. In a multilingual world such
fluency is not only charming, it is also an enormous advantage. The
appreciation of other languages, particularly those spoken by
significant numbers of immigrants in the locality should be part of the
curriculum at the earliest grades in our schools.
All this, however, must rest upon one, and only one, foundation
– English. As the language of the vast majority of our citizens, as the
language of assimilation for millions of our immigrants, as the language
of our government and commerce, English is, and must remain, the core
language of America. Had history been different there might have been a
different language that would have united us. But our history is our
history. And English is the only possible common tongue at this point
of our national life. This is not to argue for the superiority of
English but for the reality of it. Well-intentioned efforts to provide
pockets of other language existence is to doom those pockets to be
forever outside the commonality of America. A nation based on more than
one language will always be inherently in tension. This is obviously
true around the world where language differences that coincide with
ethnic or racial differences are breeding grounds for never ending
violence. But it is also true where language divides societies which
seem on the surface to be rock solid. Witness today’s non-violent but
separatist debate by the Province of Quebec in Canada. It poses great
risk to an otherwise very cohesive nation.
Children who do not speak English at home must be brought to
English proficiency as rapidly as possible. Due respect should be paid
to their native tongue. Efforts should be made to provide adequate
transition time. But the message must be unmistakable that in order to
make American culture cohesive and all-inclusive America must be
English-speaking at its core. We want you to join us in that
commonality and we will help you achieve proficiency.
Linguistic diversity is a strength. A Tower of Babel is a
crippling weakness. We must know where the former ends and the latter
The second component of our commonality is education. As stated
earlier, it has always been America’s great equalizer. But this road to
opportunity has not been uniformly embraced by various groups.
Education is truly honored in some groups – from the early Yankee
settlers to the Jewish immigrants at the turn of the century to today’s
Asian newcomers. The pursuit of knowledge and intellect was and is seen
as the source of genuine esteem and respect. Many immigrant groups have
had the same attitude in the first and second generations and some seem
to lose it subsequently. There is a latent anti-intellectualism in
America that seems to overcome this early appreciation of learning.
Pride in being a top student sometimes gives way to fear of being
thought a bookworm – or even worse, a “geek.”
Here is where some serious soul searching must be done by
community leaders and the media. What are we honestly saying to our
young? What values are we really conveying? Does becoming an educated
person truly mean anything in the last analysis?
The objective here involves the simple truth that the desire to
learn is fundamentally as critical as the opportunity to learn. Desire
flows from children believing that learning matters. As a volunteer in
the Peace Corps I taught students who were desperately poor by our
standards. We used outdated or inappropriate textbooks and the
“facilities” were de minimus. The students were 9th and 10th graders
almost all living away from home and thus removed from the support of
parents and family.
But they learned. And learned very well despite every
conceivable disadvantage. Because they wanted to. Because they valued
it. And because it was truly valued in their culture.
No American classroom I ever entered was as resource poor as my
classrooms in Ethiopia. But as I began to appreciate how the will to be
educated conquered all these obstacles, I would recall the stories of
Abraham Lincoln reading by candlelight. I would also remember how
driven my father and his siblings were to learn despite their immigrant
These experiences left me a firm believer that society creates
learning by simply valuing it. No amount of money, no accumulation of
technological equipment, can overcome a child’s sense that learning
really doesn’t matter that much. We have sent those signals and we have
to change them.
The conveying of values occurs every day. The conveyors are the
leaders of America, the leaders of its subgroups and the lords of the
media. Each must commit to sending a pro-learning, pro-intellect,
pro-education message. How? The best example in my mind is Bill Cosby.
The Huxtable family, whatever the criticisms of it, promotes a set of
values with respect for learning (and family) at the core. It
demonstrates how to retain one’s identity within a context that
maximizes opportunity. A second example is Cosby himself. He gave $20
million to Spelman College, a powerful message of deep commitment to
education – in this case the education of blacks. This is how people
convey a value system. This is how learning is elevated to its rightful
and necessary status. American philanthropists, foundations,
corporations, and everyday citizens would do well to see this as a
worthy road to travel.
The same centrality of education must be promoted by the local
press. A student who can throw an accurate forward pass is certain in
his mind that press adulation will follow. A student with very high
scores in the SAT’s never thinks that it will be worthy of press
coverage. Yet, which is more important? The print media, radio and
television should have education reporters that systematically and
regularly report on what is happening in the classroom as well as what
is happening on the athletic fields. Some are already moving in this
direction. It must become a stampede.
The third component is equality of opportunity.
In the great economic global competition, a nation’s team must
be made up of all its diverse members. As we face the challenges of
this global economy and as we face the challenges of a threatened
environment, every American contributes to our response. Positively or
We will not become a world economic competitor using only some
We will not become a society at peace with its natural
environment if whole sections of the population feel that they have no
stake in that society.
By its sheer composition, America must be resolutely inclusive.
Every person is part of the solution or, if not, will be part of the
problem. Everyone will either be a rower or an anchor. We can have
some effect on which they will be.
The laws for the most part are in place.
The task is the emotional acceptance, indeed, the emotional
embrace of the founding principle “All Men Are Created Equal.” This
basic belief has to empower people in all the modern forms. Those forms
include race, sex, age and sexual preference.
The battles of the past have been bitter. We must put them
behind us and not tolerate the continued attempts to undermine the
progress we have made.
This guarding against encroachments is a constant struggle in
the area of civil rights, women’s rights and affirmative action. It’s
not just the laws but the messages those laws send that are important.
Human rights has to do with how we regard each other.
Diminution of that regard lessens all of us. And as a nation we are
made less viable if part of our human potential goes unrealized.
America is where “Be all you can be” was chosen as a slogan for
its armed forces. For good reason. Because in America more than
anywhere else, those five words are the cornerstone of what we believe.
The role of the President here is the constant and unrelenting
reaffirmation of that cornerstone. We have to arrive at the day when we
truly look at each other as family. Not just because it would be nice.
But because the cohesiveness it will provide will ensure our
‘Tis more blessed to give than to receive. Now there’s a
shopworn bromide if there ever was one. Just the kind of homily
intended to lull the innocent into patterns of behavior that the more
worldly know to avoid.
Except that it’s true. It is better to give. Giving takes time
and it takes money. But look at givers, and then look at takers. Who
is really happier?
Giving is Americana. Thousands of colleges, hospitals, museums
and theatres exist because of the philanthropy of individuals. Tithing
is an honored – and expected – part of some religious traditions.
Yet giving in America is very uneven. Some people of wealth
recognize their responsibility back to society and are quite generous.
Others feel no such responsibility and lavish upon themselves and their
friends every conceivable indulgence. The latter are hailed by the
media which eagerly covers every last gaudy detail. The former will
never have a program to compete with “Lifestyles of the Rich and
So it is with corporate America. Some companies are extremely
committed to being a good corporate neighbor. They recognize the need
to give back to the community and seek to lend personnel and financial
resources to aid local and national causes. Other companies have a
culture which, frankly, doesn’t give a damn about what’s happening
outside its office window or factory gate.
There is little to no public recognition of the good corporate
citizen. There is absolutely no incentive, beyond their own personal
values, for company presidents and boards of directors to engage in
The President can change this. There should be a Blue Ribbon
Committee of prominent individuals created to establish voluntary
guidelines for corporate giving. Standards can be set. It has been
done in Minneapolis. Companies can choose to honor them, ignore them,
or something in between. And every year a list should be compiled as to
who gave what, and that listing should be made public. Finally, the
media should consider this listing as important news and report on it
Companies that care should be publicly acknowledged. Companies
that don’t should be open to scrutiny and criticism. The President
should establish Presidential Medals for Corporate and Individual
Philanthropy. The point here is to establish a culture of giving, an
embrace of giving, as an esteemed – and expected – value for corporate
America. This notion, hopefully, will then create an environment
wherein Americans of all economic means will find themselves more open
to the same principle. If this were to happen the bonds between us all
would be strengthened. Now, tell the truth. If Donald Trump had
endowed chairs at Howard University instead of buying that yacht
wouldn’t Howard be better off? Wouldn’t the country be better off? And
truly, wouldn’t Donald Trump be better off?
Let’s deglorify indulgence and return giving to the place it
enjoyed when great people made this country.
Culture as part of a Culture
Civilizations are measured by their art and cultural
achievements. Sometimes it’s architecture, sometimes it’s music,
sometimes it’s paintings and sometimes it’s literature.
These storehouses of human creativity and inspiration mark the
high water marks of what we are. They are the places and events which
can uplift the soul – especially the soul of the young. How do you
measure the impact on a young child of being exposed to a performance of
the Nutcracker Suite or the Messiah in December? Or the impact on an
adolescent being taken to a matinee performance of “Les Miserables?” Or
a summers night listening to a local orchestra perform? Or a periodic
visit to a sculptor as she works on a piece of public art? Or the
chance to see live theatre instead of just another movie?
We would all acknowledge these occurrences as valuable. But
whose children have these experiences? Generally it is the children of
the already educated or appreciative. That’s fine, but the impact would
be greater upon children of modest circumstances who otherwise would not
be so exposed. These children need a spiritual booster shot. Some of
them need it desperately. They need one spark, one glimmer to light the
way or to suggest a new direction. This is where you change lives.
In the absence of this, they will receive their values only from
the street and from the spiritual emptiness of television programming.
Investing in community cultural events is part of creating a
society that is intact and vibrant. During budget crises, government
funds for the arts and humanities are always a first-cut priority. The
reverse should be true. During economic crises the need is greater.
The United States government must undertake to prioritize
funding of the arts and humanities, particularly for communities outside
the major urban centers. The amounts here are de minimus in the overall
budgetary scheme of things. It should be seen as an investment in the
personal horizons of its citizens, particularly the young. Not simply
for the sake of supporting cultural activities although that alone
should be enough. But also in the understanding that we are competing
with nations that already value such activities. Our increased embrace
of them will strengthen our people and help establish an increasingly
viable and functional American culture.
Separation of church and state is fundamental to freedom in
America. This principle was adamantly proclaimed by the Founding
They did not, however, dismiss spirituality. Indeed, belief in
a higher order was part and parcel of the early Americans – both the
first Indian nations and the early European settlers.
That spirituality is not unique to America, of course. There
never was a great sustaining nation that was aspiritual. In our modern
technological age with its impersonalness, the search for larger purpose
is no less felt. That search for a deeper meaning can exhibit itself in
destructive ways, such as drug and alcohol abuse, as well as other
behavioral asymmetry. It need not be.
The overt quest for spirituality has been seen politically as a
valuable electoral advantage by some on the right and a bit too
unsophisticated by some on the left. Neither is appropriate. We all
seek God in our own way. We are all engaged in the search for
understanding of our place in the great order of things. A public
acknowledgement of that search and a stated respect for wherever that
search may lead are not improper activities for the political leadership
of this nation.
The Land and the Buildings
The culture of a people is not separable from the physical
surroundings of that people. We are of the earth.
The preservation of the beauty of open spaces should be pursued
not only for the environmental reasons stated earlier, it should be
pursued for its capacity to renew the spirit and to lend harmony to our
The same is true within the land that we occupy. There is a
character to a place. That character is defining. Too often in America
the inhabited land all begins to look alike. What is unique about a
locale is lost under the onslaught of sameness.
A mall is a mall is a mall. A commercial strip is a commercial
strip is a commercial strip. A highway is a highway is a highway.
Care and attention should be paid to preserving the character of
the different parts of America. The President is uniquely positioned to
encourage Americans to contemplate these matters. Although it is a
predominately local matter, there are federal roles such as historic
preservation grants and UDAG-like programs to keep urban centers viable.
Many of these cities are already well on their way to implosion. But
beyond that, there is the bully pulpit as Prince Charles has so aptly
demonstrated in Great Britain. He cares about how his country resonates
with its surroundings. Our leaders should do so as well.
There is no way to talk about American culture in 1991 without
addressing the issue of crime and public order. There is a darker side
to the way we interact with each other. Sadly, the rise in crime in our
country has been a constant theme for decades. This is especially true
in our cities.
It is impossible to achieve a viable American culture in the
midst of uncontrolled violence. Citizens will simply not value their
membership in a society where they lack a sense of reasonable physical
security. The fear of crime erodes the bond between the citizen and the
society. Many of our inner cities are cauldrons of acultural behavior.
Innocent people are unable to escape the downdraft of this activity.
How do we address this issue? For years we have had a great
deal of law and order rhetoric from Richard Nixon’s unleashing of Spiro
Agnew to the Willie Horton issue in 1988. Congress has passed tougher
crime legislation and the death penalty has become an all-too-common
But the goal of “safe streets” remains elusive. We now have a
greater percentage of our citizenry behind bars than any nation on
earth. That must be a sobering realization since it has not
significantly affected the citizenry’s perception of physical security.
There are approaches to crime that deal with prevention.
Obviously education, a sense of community, self-esteem – all these are
ingredients essential to minimizing the likelihood that someone would
engage in criminal behavior. These matters have been addressed earlier
in this paper and are worthy of reemphasis.
There are other approaches that deal with punishment and the
certainty of that punishment. These are equally important and, as
referenced above, the Congress has passed laws to accomplish this.
So what else can be done?
There are two areas that I believe are left unaddressed.
Neither is new. Neither is easy. The first involves getting guns off
our streets and the second involves recognizing that wholesale drug
trafficking should qualify for capital punishment.
There is no greater hypocrisy than the prototypical Republican
position of tough on crime and easy on AK-47’s. The rationale for this
is pure politics. Appeal to the millions who worry about their safety
but don’t antagonize the National Rifle Association.
The availability of all kinds of weapons in America is no
accident. The right to bear arms is seen by some as the only absolute
right granted by the constitution. We have freedom of speech but you
can’t yell “fire” in a movie theatre. We have freedom of the press but
go too far and you’ll be sued for libel. The two-facedness of the
Republican posture is reflected in the bizarre dilemma faced by many
police, particularly urban police. Whom do you support? The candidate
who has the tougher posture on crime but protects the rights of
criminals to have assault weapons? Or the candidate who would ban
I would suggest that our times requires a toughness in dealing
with crime, but combined with aggressive commitment to get guns out of
the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.
This extends beyond AK-47’s. The right to bear arms is not a
blanket purchase order for anyone to buy anything. The ease of killing
with a gun stands in sharp contrast to the difficulty of accomplishing
the same end with a knife or other such weapon.
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. True. But people
without guns have a harder time doing it. Guns should be available for
self-protection by those who choose to have them. They should not be
available, however, for those whose motives are injurious to social
stability. The Brady bill to finally bring about effective gun control
should be passed immediately. It is tragic that George Bush has chosen
not to endorse it.
A serious, non-ideological commitment to return to a sustainable
sense of public order is needed. Too many Americans perceive a kind of
anarchy in the streets and that cannot be tolerated. These guns must be
taken off the streets.
Capital Crimes Against Society
Crime in America today falls into two categories in my mind.
The first is the level of crime inherent in any society. There will
always be a criminal element and there will always be crimes of passion.
The second is crime that is drug-related. And this is not a
level of criminal activity that should be acceptable. It is a threat to
our very being.
This threat does not result from guns or bombs or knives. This
threat results from commerce. It is entrepreneurial. Yet it kills. It
kills in massive numbers. Some of the people it kills die. Others live
but in a larger sense they die as well. This is not your every day
one-on-one street crime. Or your crime of passion. This is a
methodical, planned, knowing slaughter of the many in pursuit of money.
Massive amounts of money. And this slaughter is today the greatest
threat to our domestic common security.
It is the threat of big-time drug dealing.
How can we tolerate this dissipation of our collective strength?
Drugs are overwhelming us. No society ravaged by drugs is going to
compete with anybody. Yet those who engage in and profit from this
trade are considered lesser criminals by the criminal code. I kill one
person in a fit of passion and I am a murderer. I kill thousands of
people by methodical drug trafficking and I am not a murderer. By what
standard of logic? By what definition of true threat?
Who truly kills the drug user found in an alley with a needle in
his arm? Who truly kills the store owner murdered by a drug user in
search of quick money for a drug purchase? Who truly kills the
intravenous drug user who contracts AIDS? Who truly kills the victim of
an automobile crash caused by drug use? Who truly kills the newborn
cocaine dependent baby?
The major drug trafficker does. Yet in states that impose the
death penalty he is immune. I repeat. By what definition of real
threat? By what recognition of actual damage to our societal core?
If the death penalty is society’s way of identifying the
greatest threat, it must look past the one-on-one crime of passion or
criminal intent. It must concentrate on those who would destroy all of
us. It must focus on the trafficker and, once and for all, declare a
war on drugs that is a war on drugs. Billions upon billions for defense
against fading foreign threats embodied by the Soviets and only
hesitance in addressing the true angels of death within our borders.
Unless drug dealing is significantly reduced, we will never be a viable
nation. We will never compete. We will be dragged down by our fellow
citizens lost in the demonic caverns of drug dependence.
We will be what our culture empowers us to be. To strengthen
our common culture must be our common mission. Recognition of, and
dedication to, that mission is the mandate of our leadership. It
doesn’t lend itself to ten point programs and quarterly reviews. It
will be a discussion that will never end. It should never end. The
journey to renew America’s spiritual base will take us back through our
history to harvest the wisdom of that history.
We will revisit our ancestors’ thinking and learn once again to
pay homage to the basic values that made America. Those values, long
since articulated, will then serve as our safe passage to the future.
In our collective veins flows the blood of those who crossed the
Bering Land bridge. Of those who endured deprivation during the winter
in Plymouth. Of those who suffered in the holds of slave ships and on
the decks of immigrant ships. Vietnamese boat people. Hungarian
freedom fighters. Salvadoran refugees. On and on.
Above all, there flows the blood of those who died for America.
For our freedom. Not so we could be cynical, or uncaring or second
best. But in the belief that we would be worthy of their sacrifice in
how we lived our lives and how we honored our country. This is the New
VII. Return to Purpose
Adversity tests the character of individuals. It also tests the
character of a people. We are now being challenged by outside forces
that seek to erode our standard of living and by others that portend
environmental and energy cataclysm. In addition, we are challenged by
internal forces that are undermining the fabric of our social order.
What would our ancestors have done? Simple. They would have
accepted the challenges and pushed ahead secure in the knowledge that
their destiny was within their control. Avoidance was not what they
were all about.
So it must be with us.
Facing our challenges forthrightly is how we honor the labors of
our forebearers. It is our moral imperative.
But, more importantly, it is the source of our hope. We are a
blessed America. It is our will and determination that will deliver us.
Let us, again, unleash the spirit of the American people and again
secure our future and the future of our descendents.
Let us return to purpose.