May 28, 1959

Page 9380

Address by Hon. Edmund S. Muskie, of Maine, Before Tennessee Municipal League


Thursday, May 28,1959

Mr. KEFAUVER. Mr. President, within the past few days it was my privilege to accompany my able colleague EDMUND S. MUSKIE), the junior Senator from Maine, to Tennessee. Mr. MUSKIE addressed the Tennessee Municipal League at Gatlinburg. His remarks before that body were most inspiring and made special mention of the Tennessee Valley Authority. His recognition and understanding of this fine demonstration of power and resources development in my State is greatly appreciated by all of us in Tennessee. I ask unanimous consent that Senator MUSKIE'S speech be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the address was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

While I deeply appreciate the invitation of the Tennessee Municipal League, extended through Senators ESTES KEFAUVER and ALBERT GORE, I must confess feeling a little as though I were carrying coals to Newcastle. It is not that the subject of my remarks is an unworthy one--far from it -- but it may seem presumptuous for a new Senator from northern New England to come into this beautiful State to discuss the role of Government in achieving full utilization of our resources.

I say this because seldom in our history has there been such a spectacular example of creative and wise use of resources, as is exemplified in the Tennessee Valley.

I was interested to read recently that the TVA continues to be one of the first things that many youthful foreign visitors ask to see when they have an opportunity to travel in the United States. The TVA is still one of the best examples available of an imaginative approach to resource

development within the framework of a Federal system of government. It goes without saying that the development of our natural resources represents one of the most fruitful areas of Federal, State and local cooperation. It is striking that in the TVA instance, the decision was made to step outside the usual framework of government in order to achieve maximum results. This willingness to try the flexible approach undoubtedly was of crucial importance in producing the dramatic results which are today obvious to anyone who comes into this area with open eyes and an open mind. There are several important point which are underscored by the success of the TVA experiment. I should like to explore each of these points more fully.

Before I do that, I would like first to outline my general philosophical position on resource development. First, it is well to remember that the conservation movement is largely limited to the 20th century in America. Theodore Roosevelt was the first great public figure to dramatize conservation as a live issue and to make it part of the official policy of the U.S. Government to achieve conservation of our resources. Prior to Theodore Roosevelt, we had operated on the assumption that we had resources to burn and I suppose, in one sense, we did have. In any event, the abundant resources of this great continent were gobbled up and exploited as if there were no limits. Today, this is no longer true. We are operating in a period of history when we can no longer afford to waste a single resource, material, or human.

Indeed, if we are to achieve the good life for coming generations of Americans, we are probably going to need another Theodore Roosevelt to again rekindle the issue. With a population increasing at the rate of about 3 million a year, with every decade adding another 30 million Americans, we can easily look forward to the time when there will be more than 200 million of us and this probably within the lifetime of most of us here today.

It is clear that resource development rates very high on the agenda of American democracy. We dare not do less than the maximum in view of the cold war struggle in which our Nation is engaged.

What lessons can we draw from the TVA experiment which might apply on a broader national plane? First, there is the necessity for bold creative thinking. The Tennessee Valley Authority idea was several decades in the making, as various individuals dreamed of the possibility of harnessing the water resources of the Tennessee River.

Secondly, there is the need for courageous political leadership in behalf of the idea. Who knows what the fate of the TVA idea would have been if the late Senator Norris and a few other courageous pioneers had not been prepared to do battle over a long period of time?

Thirdly, there is the need for wise and effective administration to implement legislative plans once they have been drawn. Here the lesson of the TVA is most instructive.

The many excellent cooperative efforts carried on under the authority of the TVA have shown us how successfully modern federalism can function on a day-to-day basis. The TVA partnership efforts with State departments of health, conservation and parks, with municipal power boards, with rural electric cooperatives, with State and local planning commissions, with agricultural and

engineering experiment stations, with State and local planning commissions and with many other agencies are all examples of how successful optimum use of a comprehensive water resource development project.

The value of such a comprehensive development project is that it provides for an overall development of an area's natural resources. A multipurpose project, such as the TVA, provides optimum benefits in a host of areas wherein conservation and development are essential to the advancement and protection of the general welfare. You have shown, here in Tennessee, that flood control, irrigation, soil and forest conservation, fish and wildlife conservation, power production, navigation, and recreational facilities, can be combined fruitfully in a common program of action. In the long run, such a program benefits not only the State and the region directly involved, but also offers direct benefits to the Nation, itself.

This is true, of course, because the Nation's general welfare and economic growth are hampered or retarded when separate States, or even when whole regions, fall below a national minimum standard of performance. I think it is possible to see that these stimulants to the economic growth of individual States can sometimes be acquired best through cooperative Federal action.

Most important of all, the TVA experiment reveals so clearly that creative thinking in the field of conservation given the proper legislative support, and administered with boldness and dedication, can restore the faith of the people themselves, in their capacity for self-government, and equally important for economic progress.

It would certainly be a philosophy of despair if we were to conclude that we lack the capacity within our democratic system to achieve the maximum utilization of our resources.

As a matter of fact, it seems to me that we have now reached the point in our Nation's development when an equally imaginative approach is needed with respect to the development of our human resources. Perhaps the conservation movement in the last half of the 20th century ought to be devoted to the wisest possible use of our people's talents and abilities. I do not profess to know the details of all of the major instances in which we are clearly wasting human resources but here are a few examples which have come to my attention recently:

1. In the field of education, we are told that for every young American successfully engaged in the pursuit of a higher education at the college level, there is one more having essentially the same ability who is not. At the public school level, the problem is well known: A recent survey by the Office of Education reveals a continual shortage of 140,000 classrooms. The National Education Association, research division, estimated at the beginning of the current 1958-59 school year that 135,000 more qualified teachers were needed than were available this year.


2. When the National Manpower council published a volume entitled "A policy for Skilled Manpower" in 1954, they found it impossible to tell exactly how many skilled workers there were in this country. In other words, as recently as the last Federal census in 1950, the best we could do was to estimate that there were between 8 and 9 million skilled workers. The council reported no reliable basis for estimating the number of skilled workers in operative, clerical, sales, service, farm, and certain other occupations. This reminds me of my elementary course in physics in high school when I first encountered the question which I am sure is still discussed in the same classes when they study sound. When a tree crashes in the wilderness outside the range of any ear, does its fall create sound? Can there be sound when there is no one to hear it?

In connection with the subject we are discussing, is anything whose existence is unknown to anyone a resource? Is it a wise National policy not to know who our skilled workers are and where they are located?

3. A subcommittee of the Senate, of which I am a member, recently had prepared a study which reveals some rather glaring inadequacies relating to foreign language raining. The study shows that only a token percentage of the members of the military, economic, and technical assistance programs abroad are capable of speaking the language of the country they serve. By way of contrast, reports indicate that the majority of high level Russian personnel assigned to embassies and economic missions in most foreign countries have a fluent proficiency in the language of the country to which they are sent.

The Russians start the teaching of foreign languages in grade school. Their policy is for each of their 15 million high school students to study a foreign language. One authoritative source estimates that 45 percent of the Russian high school generation studies English, 35 percent German, and 25 percent French. At university level, the study of foreign languages in the Soviet Union is mandatory. By way of contrast, less than 15 percent of our 8 million high school students are currently studying any foreign language. Less than 10 public high schools out of a total of 25,000 in the United States offer a Russian language course. Probably less than one one-thousandth of 1 percent of our high school students are studying Russian. About 1 American university in 10 offers a Russian course. It has been estimated that 10 million Russians have the ability to read the English language, whereas most reports indicate that only 10,000 Americans, including students, have the ability to read Russian. Of course, this affects the scientific community as well as any other. Reports indicate that half of Russia's 1 million scientists can read English, whereas not more than 1,000 of the 1 million American scientists have the ability to read Russian. That would be about one-tenth of 1 percent.

On the basis of this evidence, it seems to me that the Soviet Union is making more effective use of its human resources in this important area of activity than we are.

4. Another Senate subcommittee, of which I happen to be a member, recently held hearings on a proposal to create a Department of Science and Technology with Cabinet status in the Federal Government. These hearings revealed the absence of any overall policy with respect to science at the highest level of the Federal Government. Here again we have a tragic example of an ineffective utilization of human resources. I am sure that if one had the personal knowledge and the research facilities, this kind of analysis could be pushed into many other areas of our national life. If, for example, the statistics are correct which show that 16 million Americans are suffering from some form of mental illness, one wonders what the cost is in terms of their inability to perform adequately their individual roles in our national life. While no one knows exactly what American industry loses each year because of mental illness, a survey completed in 1954 by the Menninger Foundation suggested that the loss would run into billions of dollars annually.

I think that the time has arrived for a new conservation movement which would center its attention on the purely human aspects of resource development. It is clear that in this area of public policy, we have often lacked imaginative thinking and courageous political leadership, to say nothing of administrative competence in dealing with the problem. I am encouraged to believe that I am not exaggerating the scope of the problem when I read that the President's Science Advisory Committee has just released an 18,000-word report which concludes that a doubling of our current annual investment in education is probably a minimal rather than an extravagant goal.

What are the lessons we should learn from the TVA as they apply to the broader problems of national survival and natural growth?

First it seems to me that we want to do more than merely survive. That is to say, that when we speak of national survival, we have in mind something more than our continued existence as an independent, geographically identifiable state. If I am not mistaken, we have a deeper desire for America to survive and to prosper as a vital, meaningful force which, by its leadership and by its example, can lift the world upward gradually to higher levels of social and economic progress for men and women everywhere. This suggests, I hope, that we are concerned with more than Maginot Line security, we are concerned with more than a retaliatory capability which can destroy our potential enemy. We are concerned with more -- and I should say something far different -- than political domination of other areas of the world. We are concerned with demonstrating here, at home, and to the peoples overseas that our way of life does give us strength, that it does enable us to prevail over those who would destroy us, and that it is the last best hope of ordinary people everywhere who yearn for opportunity, dignity, and freedom.

Second, I say that we are concerned with this -- and I mean concern with an emotion that we have never had to feel before. Our policies and programs since our beginning have been based on the assumption that we had resources to burn, that no other nation could match them, that our way of life and our institutions had an irresistible attraction for peoples not privileged to enjoy them --the assumption of manifest superiority.

This is an assumption that is no longer valid. What we are, what we have, and what we offer, are being weighted on the balance against the supposed attractions of an alien system. We are being judged by people who are not advocates of higher democracy or communism, but who are concerned as to their own status in life and its improvement. To these peoples, we are no longer manifestly superior.

To capture their minds and hearts -- and there are more than a billion of them -- it is necessary that we utilize to the maximum every resource at our disposal -- material, human, and ideological. We must live our national life with a fire, an enthusiasm, and a confidence in ourselves that we have always found it possible to summon in times of national crisis.

What does maximum utilization require?

It requires, first of all, that we become a progressively stronger economic force in the world, gaining strength not only for ourselves, but for peoples everywhere who seek to develop an economic climate favorable to the recognition of the dignity and worth of the individual.

It requires secondlv, the establishment of a military posture which is dynamic, not static, which utilizes to the full the tools of scientific research, and which unhesitatingly and firmly seizes every advantage and makes maximum use of every new development which promises to strengthen our sinews. Such a posture is the shield behind which we can mobilize the economic and ideological strength which will give us the ultimate victory.

Thirdly, that we develop every resource here at home. Measured by the tasks to be performed, there is plenty of work for all our people and they must all be kept busy to the limit of their skills and their capacities. We do not have enough scientists. We do not have enough teachers, we do not have enough doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, technicians of all kinds. Everywhere we turn we find shortages of skills. Who says there isn't enough work to keep all Americans employed? There is work begging to be done. How do we fit the square pegs in the round holes?

One great bridge between the man and the job is the educational process. This isn't to say that with the proper schools we can train anyone to do anything. It isn't to say that the answer to current unemployment is to send everyone to school. It is to say that we have great unfilled needs in the field of human skills, that we are doing too little about it, and that we cannot retain the image of America as the strength and hope of the world unless we utilize every potential talent which we have wherever it may be found. It is time to deal with a national problem by providing a national answer to it.

We won't do it today, or tomorrow, by sitting on our hands. We will not do it today, or tomorrow, by smugly glorying in past victories. We will not do it today, or tomorrow, without thinking, without taking the people into our confidence - without asserting the creative and productive capacity which lies in the hearts and minds of a free people.

Someone once said, "the road that stretches before the feet of a man is a challenge to his heart long before it tests the strength of his legs." What he was saying is that the heart is often capable of greater decisions than the mind: The heart of America is its secret weapon.

©2002 The Edmund S. Muskie Foundation. All rights reserved.