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has led in this field. His words will also carry a good deal of weight before this committee, and that comes from the heart, too, with respect to this witness.
Mr. CAREY. Thank you, Congressman.
Mr. BLATNIK. Mr. Carey, the Chair, on behalf of the committee, commends you for a very pointed, solid, and effective statement, and for your participation in helping us to build a record and focus the attention of the Congress on a problem that I think we can no longer avoid. We have avoided it for far too long. There is no reason why in this great country of ours with its great capital and available industrial capacity and capability, with the great reservoir of skills in our working men and women, and with our vast managerial skill, we cannot keep producing and taking care of the domestic needs that ought to be met, and which can be met, and still produce the material wherewithal to give substance to our foreign policy, our military preparedness, and our economic well-being.
Thank you very much.
Mr. CAREY. I have been testifying before congressional committees as a union officer since 1934, and I want to say a word of thanks to this particular committee, to both sides of the desk, for their attention and their attendance, and their consideration to this kind of legislation. Thank you very much.
Mr. BLATNIK. I appreciate your comments.
Our next witness is Dr. Spencer M. Smith, Jr., of the National Citizens Committee on Natural Resources.
Doctor, we welcome you again this morning, as on many, many other most friendly and interesting occasions.
Dr. Smith is a great friend of ours in the area of public works and resource use, and we appreciate your appearance this morning.
STATEMENT OF DR. SPENCER M. SMITH, JR., NATIONAL CITIZENS
COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
Dr. SMITH. I apologize to the chairman of the committee for not having mimeographed testimony before the committee. Our organization has only part-time help, and these clerical efforts sometimes come on apace, and we are simply unable to keep up with it.
As the chairman indicated, I am the secretary of the Citizens Committee on Natural Resources, which is a national conservation organization, with offices in Washington, D.C. We appreciate the opportunity of appearing before this committee to offer our views that are relevant to H.R. 10318 and H.R. 10113. Quite frankly, we prefer H.R. 10113 because it does establish an Office of Coordinator.
The reason for this, which I will develop a little bit more, is in the field of natural resources whenever a measure such as this, and which is all encompassing such as this, and pervasive, comes before the Congress, the natural resources improvements quite often get left out.
We do feel the Office of Coordinator might very well help to pinpoint and head up some of the direction of this expenditures offered in this bill.
My comments very briefly will be relevant to several points. I think that the bill is reasonable, and I think one of the problems as far as meeting this depression is timing and adjustment. One of the most difficult things is to deal with the kinds of depressions we have had since 1946, or since World War II. I find myself constantly in various discussions being informed that the depression is not so bad. Something like a patient having a serious festering sore which responds to treatment, but never gets completely well.
I see no reason at all for our comparing the worst periods of our country's history in the thirties rather than the best ones. I think the shortrun aspect of these depressions which come on somewhat briefly, but which are abrupt and
have not been significantly in depth, indicates we have learned something since the thirties, I hope, but they have a festering influence.
I would like to recite these influences that are most appropriate, especially to this committee: 6.8 percent of our labor force was unemployed in 1958, and it has been hovering close to around 6 percent, or in that area, ever since.
One of the difficulties, it seems to me, is calling attention to people that are given a lack of utilization of abilities in the economy. It is one of the most significant and costly items we have. I have heard a great deal of discussion about a balanced budget. While I don't want to indicate my modesty too much, I was contending in 1956 and 1957 and was making predictions then when there were being serious cutbacks on the part of the Federal Government. It was my contention at the time, and I was joined by a number of economists of quite mixed political persuasions from all walks of life, that these cutbacks were occurring at a time when, in all probability, private capital and investment and consumer expenditure was not going to be significant enough to overcome these cutbacks in Government expenditures.
I made the prediction in front of a congressional committee in late 1956, and I was frankly laughed at because I indicated in all probability this among other effects would result in a deficit some time in late fiscal 1957 or 1958, of somewhere between 10 and 12 billions of dollars. They wanted to know how I arrived at this, and what kind of alchemy in reverse I was using in the cutbacks in Government expenditures. The answer was that they were going not to offset the cutbacks in revenues that would be lost as a result of unemployment. As you know, the actual deficit in 1958 was approximately $12 billion.
This is important in another way. I think we burdened our economy, besides losing the work that could be done and besides losing the various goods and services that could be produced, and those values, we burden it due to the necessary involvement of unemployment compensation and a variety of other measures.
Also I would like to mention that we have learned a great deal since 1933, and since 1929. All of the difficulties we have had and the mistakes we obviously made in attempting to combat the recession the thirties has taught us something. But many of these built-in stabilizing influences which are often testified to are not meant to take the sort of jolts and bumps that we have been receiving in 1953, and 1956, and 1958, and to some extent in the early part of 1961. I think they are supplementary and connected to things that have to be done. It appears to me that as long as we have the many things that do need to be done we ought get cracking and do something about them.
I am appreciative of the problems this brings on us. I grew up and was educated in a little town in western Iowa and I have attended a good part of my college time at the University of Iowa where I received academic training. My parents, and all my family are farmers, and one thing they have great suspicion about is the Federal Government. They are very upset about the Federal Government's activities, but it unfortunately comes down to the fact of whether you want certain actions to be taken and whether anyone else can take them. You are often given a choice which is not nice to take—a choice as to whether you want activities achieved and programs carried out or not. I think we are in this position and I think that the history since World War II is somewhat indicative of it. I would like to mention a word about timing and adjustment. I do
a not want to draw too much on my own personal background because it is not all relevant, but I have had two experiences I would like to mention.
One was trying to operate in a price control agency which is an attempt to marshall our resources for war. Again, trying to get rid of them and returning any resources you have committed to war to peacetime pursuits. The problem of an adjustment in an economy such as ours, which is large and varied and has a tremendous amount of industrial complexity, is an enormous task. I would like to think that we can make these adjustments rapidly, and certainly relative to the problems in hand, but the timing of something like public works is desperately important. I have heard the discussion that where it was said the Congress can act swiftly. One of the difficulties in that is that this is a real educational problem as far as people are concerned. I don't know whether Senator Douglas made up this old saw, but it is the first time I heard it. Then someone asked what is the difference between a depression and a recession and he said, “If your neighbors are unemployed, it is a recession. If you are unemployed it is a depression.”
When we have 4 or 5 percent of unemployment you may not be able to get the attention of the entire economy to how serious this amount of unemployment may be.
I do not want to indicate that Congress acts independently of what the people think because I do not think they do, but the difficulty of trying to draw attention to something before it happens in order that you can somehow obviate it, is difficult. I know in 1949 you will recall we had a slight depression and had what we call public works programs most of which were put together immediately after the war. We were busying ourselves to prepare for the great depression in 1946 and 1947. So we had our public works programs pretty much ready and they were to be triggered whenever we needed them. We had the recession in 1949 and we said, “All right. Call forth the public works programs off the shelf.” Well, we found they were pretty dusty and inoperative and would not be applicable to the situation at hand. Then the word went out, “Don't worry. They will have Congress debate the problem of authorizations and we willl have time to get ready for it."
In the light of this I would like to put a one page document or chart by Professor Woytinski, which on page 17 indicates the problem of timing and how much can be saved if we act speedily in a particular
a instance. I think this is important. If we do have this legislation and authorization to the President, and with the triggering mechanisms quite carefully spelled out, this will have to place all agencies that come under this jurisdiction in a constant state of readiness and alert so that these programs are applicable and that they are needed and can be implemented.
In addition to these problems, I would further like to indicate we feel pretty much left out of all this and I don't think any group in our society has been postponed as much as the people who are interested in natural resources. As someone said the other day in response to a statement by a member of a committee, if we are going to be postponed again we are going to be postponed out of existence. The capital improvements needed in natural resources according to the Department of Interior estimates, indicate there is $200 billion needed in investment now. It is understandable. In the 1930's, the last decade really that we gave serious attention to refurbishing and really making the necessary capital improvements in our natural resources, we were postponed because of the obvious conflict of the war effort. Immediately after the war there was inflation and Government expenditure had to be reduced to fight inflation. Once again requests were turned down. At just about the time we were ready to get moving in 1949 and 1950, Korea came along and we were postponed again. In the 1950's, when it looked like it would be a short sharp recession in 1953 and we thought we had gained some new sustenance for the interest of the people, we became involved in the cold war and it was postponed again. In this particular instance in the last few sessions of Congress, and even under the New Frontier, I might add, we have been postponed again on the basis of the missile race and difficulties in our foreign situation such as in the Berlin crisis.
So I can say to the committee honestly that if any segment of the economy has been postponed more than natural resources I don't know what it could be. “At the present time it is almost criminal the kinds of needs that exist on the public domain lands which are owned by the United States. That may very well be our salvation in another century. The water loss and the soil erosion is tremendous. The fact that you can fly over the forests and other lands of the public domain in Alaska and see forest fires consuming billions of board feet of timber and no man making any effort to put it out—it will burn until it burns out—the loss of this is just incalculable. We need desperately for our Nation's forests and for our public domain lands to have a great deal done. This is all of the land that the Federal Government owns itself. I am not talking about the small watersheds and other activities that should be taken care of individually, but those on Federal Government land. We are so desperately far behind that when we do get ready for the increased needs of legislation with regard to this land, the capacity and the ability will not be there. Anyone who seriously considers expenditures of this type has an enormous problem in front of him. That is why we hope there is a coordinator on this program, Mr. Chairman, because we do not want to be postponed again even in spite of the fact that there are other very needed and worthwhile activities. We think it may bring about some help in planning the expenditure of this money because we have a Federal
Government the size that we do have and we have a problem of supporting a public roads program on the one hand, and supporting an open space program on the other hand. After we help a community to preserve an open space and have public roads, we have the rather ridiculous situation of having a public road driven right smack dab through an open space. So I believe we do need a coordination on the part of the Federal Government.
Mr. BLATNIK. If the gentleman will yield. Another illustration of this is something we ran into in a Western State. In a narrow valley an agricultural joint Federal-county project was planned. The State planned to route a major highway through the same valley; the Federal Government planned a dam which would drown out both road and agricultural developments. None of the three initially knew of the other plans. This is just one example of how Federal and State and local instrumentalities lacking communication and coordination were unaware of what each was doing and that their projects were in conflict.
Mr. SCHERER. That is one we haven't heard about.
Mr. CRAMER. It sounds like a pretty good argument against creating another agency.
Dr. SMITH. I appreciate the gentleman's comment. The difficulty is not creating another agency. The work does not get done, but getting the work done. I want it to get done most efficiently and I think a coordinator may very well help. I have a certain historical and almost congenital reaction to this kind of what I might call multiplicity of Federal activities. It just seems to me if it could be done some other way I would be more than happy to do it, but I am convinced it cannot be.
Mr. CRAMER. Of course you realize the administration testified in opposition to the office of a coordinator and setting up this new agency under the proposal of the gentleman from Minnesota.
Dr. SMITH. I am a little reluctant to be somewhat nasty at this point, Mr. Cramer, but if you will recall President Kennedy testified in front of many, many groups of people throughout the country that we were going to have a Council of Natural Resources Advisers." I don't know what happened to it but we are still waiting for this Council of Natural Resources Advisers. I think the New Frontier is a great thing. I just wanted to get out to the New Frontier. That's all.
Mr. CRAMER. It's something like the other 200 proposals made.
Dr. SMITH. I am not complimenting them. I will leave the compliments to the gentleman from Florida, but it is one of the things that we have needed for a long time. We need to have some real serious help and I don't know that it requires an agency necessarily as much as it does a public conscience in protecting the public parks. We are desperately concerned with some of the park land. Visitations are going up and crowded conditions are such that we need to protect what we have and expand in that area where we have park conditions. There are not very many of these areas left. I will grant you that. Not with the grandeur of Yellowstone, certainly, but these kinds of things need to be brought to the attention of a coordinator, and Congress in its wisdom to act. I hope that that is one recommendation of the administration the Congress will not take and that they will establish a coordinator.