Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 4, 1976 · Page 18
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 18

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 4, 1976
Page 18
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Page 18 article text (OCR)

Sunday Gazette-Mail. Sunday, July 4, 1976 A HKIHIW MESSAGE. , a Citizen Speaks to Congress. am nn American citizen. ! nm one citron, with one view, one voice and one vote-and with no delusions as to my own importance. And yet. amidst the clamor of a bicentennial celebration, against a noise level of already deafening proportions. I presume to raise mv voice. To speak up. and speak out. to the Congress oi'the United States, and to my .fellow citizens. It is mv privilege to speak. To exercise the first and greatest ot the rights that we celebrate tojav. But. much more compellingly. 1 conceive it as my duty to speak. To express a deep and urgent concern. 1 do not props ise ti' a niunem or to pav tribute to the "lories and achievements of the past tu-o hundred years except to sav that I am proud of ourcountry and our significant achievement*. My concern is with the next one hundred years. 1 know where our country has been. 1 wonder where it is going. [ know what we celebrate today. 1 wonder what we will celebrate on the 4th of Itilv. -07('. Or on iinv of the anniversaries vet to come. 1 wonder what we will have that will warrant celebration. What rights we \\ill still e.:erci-c. what litanies we will still enjoy, \\liat blessings we \\ill acknowledge, what achieurx'nts we will hail, what accomplishments we will point to. What kind ot America we will km w. with what ineaHire of joy in the knowing. I wonder it self-reliance will still Iv a virtue or will our future generations be caught in the weh of government dependence am) crad!e-to-the_-grave security. Will our co-.mtrv he financiallv and morally bankrupt or will our financial strength and moral -oundnes- !v an inspiration for the world's |vople longing for sound guidance and leader-hip with character and integrity Or. \V. Philip Gramm. Professor of t'conomics at Texas AckM in an address to the Knight-1 if the Million Round lahle Foundation. San Francisco. June 16. N75. said as loilow-s- "h i d ,1,'iviit ,"imiiln.\ thai t i e /UHV I'M t/ie American./'ee cmcr/iri.vsv.Nti'm (Ac '"".v Mica'.vsfn/.svsiem in /H'SIOVY. U c i k v i i i ' i i K iciMi-iiil'i-'-t/iiii. (ii the l'"''i"/ uiir initiini. 1 V /vrivi:i Hi niir iiti:ei: In- uin definition iiviv poor, ^'i t/u's MXi'in lut- eli tilled n nun ilii- M U M /iimnlnliijnicultimil .UK/ i)ul'iiiriii/ luirioii cm eiirtli. Sosiiivessful is our .\\stcin. M I lu'i;li ilk .!s/'iiiitioii (if (l;i- AmiTiam |eo|'k-. iluii HV in tin's d mmi} (/I'/iiie ( i i u v i r v i i t (in income ierel tlwt is /uglier [/MI [lie (lu'iiini- iiii'diiic 1 Icfi'l d| till 1 Sin-iel Union and SOO IVIVCIK ii/Kife iii-enige ifurld income. V-i (Ill's svsrem. u-liicli IU.N giroi us so iiiin'/i in lYriiis of gdnils iiiul ill terms of /veriioin. i inuL-iMlwcfc (it (ill lei-els of gmvnmicm imil is i'l'in.i; ivi'Uvd In-a svsli'iii I/uil liistoriciillv Iws neivv uovkcdimd dii.M.N imrkim.'clleciiivK-iKiulieiv in the u "rid dn/il\. 1 wonder because, a* we enter upon the third American century, we seem to lie groping our wav. confused and uncertain, along paths that appear to me increasingly forbidding and unpromising. My concerns are many. The energy problem, and our fumbling and counter-productive attempts to deal with it. The uncontrolled power ot unions, and the abuse of that power. The encroachment of government upon our personal and business lives. The conflict Ivtween social goak and individual freedoms. A foreign policy that I do noi understand, and that I suspect it-- executor.- do not clearly understand. Rut what concern- me mo-t. because it affects everything else, is an attitude. An altitude that K-gins with condoning moral degeneration and fiscal irresponsibility and from there pervades all policie- and ail action-. Ot all the dubious paths we are pur-uing. the Primro-e P.ith---vinhol ot lolly and teckle-sness - is the most perilous. 15iV vears ago. a troubled statesman said: "Thi- city of ours will never he destroyed bv the planning of Zen-, or .iccording to the wish ot the immortal gods. But the citizens themselves in their wiidness. are hem on destruction. And money is the cause. S. ilon wa.- righf Athen- accomplished her own destruction. And in the long record if hi-n in-, ihe rule ha- prevailed. Except for tin se few cases where a strong and healthy nation has been overwhelmed by armed aggression, every collapse-ot a regime, of a rule, of a political -vstem of anv kind-has been preceded and brought oii by moral and financial bankrupicv. Even- failed society has accomplished its own destruction. And in most cases, morality and money-moral degeneracy and money, wa-ted. -quandered and become worthless-have been the prime causes. Tlie rule -till hold-. Surveying the scene from Britain lo Western Europe, to Africa. tu South America, to Asia, every tottering or sulxlued democracy is threatened or ha- It-en defeated bv moral and economic decay and financial chaos, ii i- in thi- M-nse ihm 1 -av thai, except lor the p.--ib!e stupidity ot blundering into nuclear war. this nation -lands in more danger from within than from without. The most direct road lo destruction lies along the Primrose- Path. The alluring path that invite- the indulgence of every desire and every demand, without care, without regard, without responsibility, wiihoui concern tor costs or consequences. We are most immediaiely threaiened. in sum. hv our own excesses--by our own endless demand-, encouraged and alvned by our own appiinied leader*. The threat is thai the excess of demand will destroy the American system. First the economic system, and ihen, inevitably, the political system. And in the process destroy what we have a mv to know and cherish as ihe American way of life. Tile Ciiv of New York i- a vivid example of what fiscal irresponsibility and a devotion 101 he Primrose Path and contemporary liberalism can do to ruin a city. As one writer put it. "This wild excess of goodwill is bankrupt ns a guide to public policy.' . New York Gl\ has now reached the [Mini where it is entirely incapable of self- government. Oh men f Congress can you not see thai your policies are taking us down the same ilepli ir.ihle road' l : or sixteen of the past seventeen years you have operated our federal hudgei with huge deficits. This display of operational incompetence and fiscal irresponsibility is inexcusable. The jusiificanon for a generation of deficits, leading to a colossal national debt, is not to he found in theory, but in hope. Tile vague, lunching, but insubstantial hope ihat -omehow, -omeday, "Something will lurn up. If this hope is questioned, a simpler theory takes over. Which says, bluntly, what goes up must come down. Sooner, on our own heads-which would be bad. Or later, on our children's heads - which would be worse. The questions are growing. The idea that "it can't happen here" has received a serious setback. What has happened to New York City can happen to Washington, D.C Uncle Sam may be taller than Abe Bcame, but he is just as vulnerable. It has occurred to many. It does not appear to have occurred to Gmgress. · Let me be clear. There are those who distrust and dislike the American economic system, and who would deliberately demolish it. But they are few. The greater danger comes from those who believe in the system, but with more faith than understanding. From those who believe, or take it for granted, that the system has an infinite capacity. That it is capable of providing, without limit and without end, whatever is demanded of i i -- i f the demand is pressed with enough insistence. That it can withstand any strain, absorb any stress, endure any abuse, and keep on functioning, efficiently and uncomplainingly, world without end, amen. So that it can fairly be said, we are not only in more danger from within than from without, we are also in more danger from our friends than from our enemies. Over the past thirty-five years a gradual but dramatic change has occurred in the structure of our economy. The vast increases in the growth of services (personal,education, medical, legal, etc. I and the enormous growth in government I federal, state and local I have put a heavy strain on the productive base of our economy. In a large measure the increased load on the productive base is directly attributable to the enormous growth in government at all levels. And this growth is in turn the result of a change in thought and attitude in our concept of the role ot government, and in our expectations. The Primrose Path, where there is no tomorrow, stands as the symbolic road lo instant gratification of all desires and all expectations. It also stands as the avenue of escape for those responsible for satisfying or denying expectations, who seek to avoid their responsibility. If this message is addressed to Capitol Hill, it is because it is there, in its latter guise, that the Primrose Path mi's! conspicuously runs-a broad aisle, straight through the halls of C nigress. A wide and welcoming thoroughfare, accommodating all men and all panics. And well used. For year afier year thronged by a genial majority in annual procession, scattering largesse by the wayside and dancing its way to yet another multibillion-dollar deficii. Asking myself why. I conclude that you who are elected representatives are in fact representative. You as a politician are human, even as a citizen. I am human. But that, as it has been observed, some people are more human than others. And as many politicians seem lo be human beings with common desires to lx- loved coupled with an uncommon, total, inability to say no. \\1iich leads to predictable consequences. Perpetual pregnancy, on the one hand, perennial deficits on the other. Which suggests that the old-fashioned remedy for the one human weakness may pi\v vide an answer for the other. To state it plainly, and not at all facetiously, there is nothing that Gingress so sorely needs as the legal equivalent of a chastity bell. A pay-as-we-go requirement that would compel us to live within our means, except in case of an extreme national emergency. Pay as you go is a vital, but immediate first step. In the Preamble to the Ginstitution the architects of the American government stated as one ot their objectives, "to promote the general wellare. In an attempt to provide for. protect, safeguard, preserve, shelter, nurse, nourish, nurture, help, succor, maintain, minister to, cradle, cherish, comfort, and care tor each and every citizen in each and every aspect and ivcasion of his personal and public life, you have gone far beyond what reasonable citizens can be expected to sustain. We have reached the point where half of the national budget and one-fifth of our Gross National Product is devoted to the single purpose of welfare. Criticism of the "welfare mess' has usually centered on the notorious waste and scandalous abuses engendered by a profusion of pixirly designed, and loosely administered, federal programs. Criticism (f the extension of the welfare concept, from the provision of benefits to the provision of "protection" against all of the conceivable, and many of the inconceivable, hazards of life, has usually centered on the issue of intrusion. I wonder what might happen if the government showed as much care in giving as it does in taking. If. that is. the welfare agencies excerdsed half the vigilance in dispensing money that the I.R.S. shows in extracting money. If. to say it plainly, non- workers and noncontiibutors were subject to the same discipline and control as workers and contributors. I wonder what might happen if we had or could obtain an honest accounting of the need for, and Ix-netits of. our burgeoning protections against the costs of protection. The direct costs and the indirect costs, in terms of prices and inflation. As an American citizen, I feel an urgent sense of responsibility lor other-citizens who are incapably lame, ill. tix aged or uxi infirm to work. But. today there are far tu many people riding in the wagon who are capable of pulling it! There are other basic issues I feel compelled to consider and to speak up about. The energy crisis (to no small extent created by our government I has produced more congressional rhetoric, more political discussions, more improbable solutions and more confusion to the American public than any issue since civil rights. What has been your approach to the solution? A loud cry of "energy independence has been your objective. To accomplish this goal, however, your approach has been to restrict use rather than to expand supply. Oh ye of little faith, don't you kiiow that the creative talents available in ourcountry can help to solve this problem.' Business, industry and research can expand our energy supply and if given a axiperalive and understanding government whose mission is to help-but not control, 10 advise and consent-hut not to manage. My concern today, too. considers America's unions and the vast unbridled power they possess. This union power is a threat to the freedom of America and the orderly unhamperednperationof a free Gingress. I am well aware that the union movement has made a significant contribution to the growth of America, the improvement of working conditions, and the balancing of lalxir-management relationships. Union negotiations have helped to earn a standard of living for laboring people and white collar workers they would not have otherwise. Unions, combined with a free enterprise system, and business -Kith small and large- have created a vast middle class of Americans who tend to make up the backbone of our country. Just as government had to place restrictive laws on business through the Sherman and Robinson-Pat man Acts, it is now time to curb the power of union leadership · and return the control of unions to. ihe union members. The average member in today's unions no longer has a voice. He is the forgotten man in the union movement. Today's union leaders hold the power to bring our country to its knees at any given time. They have the power to shut down any industry and all industry, disrupt any transportation and all transportation, bankrupt any major company or many major companies, close any schools or schixJ systems, and remove police protection from most major cities. Even many of you. the elected representatives of all the people. are caught in this web of power.and are afraid to act without sanction ot union leadership. . . . No group should have such power in this free America. It seems to me to he a paradox of government, thai lack ot control on one hand and excess of control oh another, brings a mixture that is difficult to understand for an ordinary and wayfaring citizen. The growth of federal government control and regulation ot Education. Business and Health Gire has greatly increased .costs in the operating structure of our economy. On the other hand, lack of control ol unions, a failure to act on judicial decisions -such as forced busing of children, causes an unbalancing ot power and a disrupting factor in our national life and gradually hut surely restricts our cherished freedoms. The freedom to work at a job of one's own chixising has been a gre i; freedom of choice for an American. The principle ot choosing a neighborhu \\ with a gixxl school has also been one ot America s great freedoms of choice. Now. however, our citizens no longer have these choices. Only with union sanction may the citizen work in many places. Only with judicial sanction may our children attend the neighborhu xl schools. Your plea of innocence may Ix 1 that your legislation ordered neither ot these -but you cannot deny your inaction has permitted it! AS 1 view our world uxlay. my concern includes our'torcign attairs. As an American citizen, it is my firm conviction that everyone in the world has a right lo Ix- tree, to live together in a society with a minimum amount ol government intervention, and to have the opportunity to be what one is capable of being. As Americans we cannot "will" the above tor the rest ol the world. We can -and must-- understand that being tree and recognizing freedom in other societies is a moral consideration ol our lifetime-- or any lifetime. Our recent philosophy as expressed through our foreign policy, has consistently scorned moral considerations. In many areas we of the western world seem to live- on the principle that moral considerations have nothing to do with politics. In today's world Americans seem to forget the moral considerations that were applicable in World War II. Tcxlay we are quite ready to recognize very quickly any power over any territory regardless of its moral character. Tyrants, bandits and puppets have come to power in various countries ot the world and we have given them speedy recognition. As an American citizen I do not believe that the great principles ot freedom end at the borders of the United States. Freedom is a moral Consideration and we must be for it. We must value it, sacrifice for it. and be ready to defend it with our lives if that should be necessary. Being ready to defend freedom and litany makes it mandatory that we have not only the will to defend, but the powvr to defend. Around us we see a world of increasing and flourishing totalitarianism. Unless we are strong, we will not he able to withstand this unprecendenied force ot lust tor power among the totalitarians. If we do not stay strong we can Ix 1 intimidated, and being intimidated could cause loss of our willpower and eventually our spiritual strength. In time there will only Ix- one result -an eventual los- of the freedoms we cherish. As an American citizen I believe in peace and believe we should exhaust all possible measures to live in harmony with other governments. But. when the vote is cast to chtxise freedom or totalitarianism in other countries, our vote must always be freedom -and we must stay strong enough to defend that position. In conclusion, may I as an American citizen commend the many of you who have lalxired long and hard to preserve our liberties and to build a Ix-tter America. 1 challenge, however, those of you who have taken the easy Primrose Path. You have tried to curry favor with your constituents for your own self-gain. You have worked harder to be rcelectecl than you have worked to do your job. It is not too late to change, however-- to review-- to take a new luk~ a new direction. Anierica needs statesmen! We so urgently need elected officials dedicated morally and spiritually who will look to the future. We need men ot character and integrity who will to the best of their ability, take our country on the course that will preserve our freedoms and rededicate us to the most meaningful objective Americans can have-- to secure the blessings ot liberty to ourselves and to our posterity. My concerns go beyond these few issues. But. there must be a stan. This is the start- · ing place. Let us, for our common gixxi and mutual salvation, get started. This is one citizen's way -my way -of saying, "Happy Birthday. America! Happy Birthday today, and Happy Birthday on July 4. 2076. John A. Williamson Citizen PRESENTED AS A PUBLIC SERVICE BY Royal Olds »,*.

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