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as Senator Humphrey so properly said in introducing the bill with me, this is perhaps the most important single thing that we can be doing in this country.
We have got to know, like the Army does, where we want to go first. What are our goals. Then, they will decide how to get there. They have got to know where you want to go, and this is what this is all about for government.
Thank you, Senator.
Chairman GLENY. Mr. Vice President, this is an unusual meeting of the committee in many respects. Particularly by the fact that you have agreed to be here with us, not to appear just as a witness in the usual committee function, but to sit more in a roundtabletype atmosphere, and quite frankly, bat some ideas around.
I know from a number of conversations with you of your interest in this, and as Senator Percy has already alluded to, the Commission on Critical Choices that you have been so instrumental in forming. We are very glad and honored to have you here with us this morning, and we hope you can share some ideas that will give us a better handle on where we are going in the future, the points of directions.
Out of your experience and expertise in this area, we welcome any statement you might make. However, before we get into a general discussion, I might add one thing. We will probably have people in and out here. We are on another vote right now, as you are aware. This is our problem with a symposium or committee meeting such as this, so we may have to be running in and out to vote for a little while.
But we welcome any statement you might care to make before we just share some views. TESTIMONY OF HON. NELSON A. ROCKEFELLER, THE VICE
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES Vice President ROCKEFELLER. Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, you all have given a very succinct and clear conceptual outline of the subject matter. Perhaps you would let me just say a few words formally, and then maybe I will interpolate as I go along.
First. Let me express my deep admiration for the Senate Committee on Government Operations, for your chairman, Senator Ribicoff and for the ad hoc chairman of this meeting, Senator Glenn, who, as Senator Ribicoff said has given the leadership in focusing the attention on this particular session, and for all of the distinguished members of the Senate committee.
In scheduling this public forum on the subject, “Our Third Century: Directions,” the committee has exhibited one of the qualities most vital to effective national leadership, vision-a concern with long-range development policies to meet long-range challenges and opportunities before this country.
I am honored to have been invited to participate, and this is a very happy moment for me.
The study of the future, the gathering of knowledgeable, creative, conceptual thinkers, the disciplined analysis and projection of present trends, the understanding of their impact on the future of our country and on the world, the search for far-reaching solutions, have been an article of faith in my own approach to public issues over 30 years.
In this period of rapid, revolutionary change and strong-willed independence, this long-range, integrated approach becomes all the more imperative.
If we do not understand and shape change to serve our national interests and the well-being of mankind, change can very well overwhelm us in the form of uncontrolled crises. It was this approach and these concerns that led me to organize the Rockefeller brothers studies in 1957, that Senator Percy has mentioned, on Prospects for America, and then in 1974, the Commission on Critical Choices for America.
However, I have been engaged in this question of studies over a long period of 30-odd years for five Presidents, I have headed commissions, and while I was Governor of the State of New York I set up over 80 task forces to study specific individual subjects of major importance to the State. So I believe very strongly in this system of bringing together these creative minds, knowledgeable people, different points of view to come up with fresh approaches to problems that we face but which anticipate trends in the future.
We were honored, in connection with the Commission on Critical Choices, we were honored to have serving on that as ex officio members of the Commission the leadership of the Senate, Senator Mike Mansfield and Senator Hugh Scott; the leadership of the House, Representative Tip O'Neill and John Rhodes and President Ford, while he was minority leader of the House, and then as Vice President, he also served as a member of the Commission on Critical Choices.
Xow, seeing we have mentioned that, I would like to, because it is illustrative of the approach that to me is important in meeting all of these problems, both the interdependence and the accelerating rate of change, to list the six panels which we set up. There were 30- or maybe 40-some members of that Commission, evenly divided Democrat-Republican and from all walks of life in this country, professional, business, labor, consumers, citizens, scientists, et cetera.
So we get a balance.
So we set up these panels, and the reason I want to read them is because it showed the concept we were trying to develop of the interrelationship of issues.
The first panel was "Energy, Ecology, Economics, and World Stability” to try and get these things in their proper perspective.
The second was “Food, Health, World Population, and Quality of Life."
The third was “Raw Materials, Industrial Development, Capital Formation, Employment, and World Trade”-slightly ambitious.
The fourth was "Open Societies and Government in a World of Centrally Managed Economies," and this, I have to think, is one of the most serious and difficult problems we, as a free society, have to
face. How do we deal—and the original Soviet grain deal 2 years ago was a perfect example that we hadn't yet learned how to cope with centrally managed economies in an open society.
And the last was, "The Quality of Life of Individuals and Communities."
I mention these simply to give both the range and the concern for the interrelationship of these subjects.
As Senator Glenn has wisely pointed out in his letter announcing this meeting, it is important that the serious analysis of our problem is being carried out by bodies such as the Commission on Critical Choices and the work of so many other institutes, universities, and other privately conducted study groups must not be left to gather dust.
They should become a part of the total body of knowledge, wisdom, and thinking available to those policymakers, such as the members of this committee, who will help chart our national directions for the future.
We need farsighted vision, creative imagination, and the capacity for conceptual thought in approaching the challenges and opportunities of the third century, and I stress conceptual thought, because it is really through that kind of thinking that the interrelation of these subjects can be brought together and that you get the dynamics of the situation rather than just a static situation, or, what I think is one of the problems that we face as a society. We know so much and we have so many specialists that each specialist has got his own clear-thinking answers, but he has got a real problem trying to relate those to the thinking and work of others, and it is really an inconvenience when he has to take them into consideration because that impinges on the clarity of his own thought, but life isn't that way.
Our strength and vitality during the past 200 years have been built upon the Founding Fathers concept that individual freedom and economic freedom were inseparable. Those people who have abandoned this concept have lost their freedom in the quest for security. This we see increasingly around the world.
America is in a unique position today because of our human and national resources to lead the world in achieving economic growth and rising standards of living for all.
With the creative genius of science and technology, the productive power of our free people and the American enterprise system, we can restore and protect our environment while developing the sources of energy, the raw materials, and the food necessary to achieve a better standard of living for an expanded world population, and I have to say that I am very optimistic about the future and our capacity, if we but have the wisdom and the intelligence and the vision to grasp those opportunities and to act on the basis that will make possible these developments.
We can build our economic strength, essential for meeting our needs, as a people at home and our responsibilities in the world.
We face tough, towering challenges, but the opportunities were never greater, if we have, as I just said, the wisdom and the world to grasp them. And in doing so, it would give us a sense of direction
and purpose as a nation in fostering our unity and restoring meaning and relevance to our lives as individuals. I am optimistic about the future, and my optimism is strengthened today knowing that one of the most important committees of the greatest deliberative body in the world is taking the long view, through these hearings, toward developing our Nation's objectives and policies for reaching them.
Indeed, if we perceive the problems that we face realistically and if we respond to them creatively, this can be a period of unprecedented opportunity to help share the future, not only for our own Nation, but for all mankind.
So, again I say I am delighted, Mr. Chairman, to be here, and I appreciate greatly this opportunity and would be very happy to comment on the questions which you have put on your agenda or proceed in any manner that you would so indicate.
Chairman GLENN. Mr. Vice President, thank you very, very much.
I put on this agenda for discussion these three very general areas and they are obviously very general.
Vice President ROCKEFELLER. Yes, but they are very good.
Chairman GLENN. They do encompass, I think, the whole spectrum of what we are talking about, and I will welcome any comments you might have on any of those three areas.
For those in the room who do not have a copy of this, I will read the three of them first.
(1) What role should Government play in the setting of long-term goals and the development of strategies for achieving those goals in a free, democratic society?
(2) What is Government presently doing in this regard and is it in any way deficient?
(3) If it is deficient, what can be done to improve the effort, either through the reform of existing institutions or the development of new institutions ?
I think many of us feel we have a great deal of brainpower in this country west of the Potomac and Hudson Rivers. If we can somehow mobilize this, not only to approach the problems we have, but more importantly to assure that we take advantage of the opportunities that we have in the country, we somehow will have done a service to this committee.
Mr. Vice President, what role do you think the Government should play?
Should they be the overall setters of goals? Should we be assessing our present capabilities and trying to line up what our futures will be 5, 10, or 15 years down the road in education, transportation, energy or any one of a dozen different fields? Or should we let our free system just drift into the future as we seem to be doing now?
Vice President ROCKEFELLER. Well, first to analyze, if I could try to, the elements that go into the making of a decision regarding the first question, what role should Government play.
Conceptually, and increasingly, it seems to me in this Nation, Government has to create a framework within which our system can operate, whether it is individuals or whether it is the American enterprise system. Whether it is our relations with other countries or whether it is in the field of education, social activities, et cetera.
The Federal Government has got to create a framework and, in my opinion incentives, to achieve the objectives which we want to achieve as a nation, the penalties or restrictions to prevent us from doing things we shouldn't do that are in the best interests of all.
But then, as one analyzes the Government, you have got the executive and the legislative branch. One of the problems that has to be tackled here is, how do we get the executive and the legislative branch working more effectively and closely together so that we can have an intelligent existing policy? We happen to be in a period that is a very difficult period, because of our traumatic experiences overseas in the whole Vietnam situation, then the traumatic experience domestically with the Watergate situation and the aftermath of that with a President that was not elected but appointed under the 25th amendment, a Congress which has got to be concerned about the public's concern as to what has happened, and at the moment, we probably have a very unusual and difficult situation in terms of the executive and legislative working together.
In fact, particularly in the international field, we are getting some disastrous results, because they are not working together.
So I view whatever is done has got to somehow bring together the long-range thinking, the analysis of the problems. The executive and the legislative, I would hope for much closer cooperation so that we have developed certain common-Senator Percy called them goals-I worry a little bit about goals in the sense that they sound å bit static and that really we are living in a period of accelerating change and objectives, direction, motion.
So I put those two.
However, the executive and the legislative, neither can function intelligently or effectively without public support.
So intimately involved in this has got to be a sharing of information with the public so that the public understands what the issues are, what the problems are, what the alternatives are and that they will support intelligent action and consistent action.
Chairman GLENX. I agree with you we have to work together in the executive and legislative areas, of course. It seems to me the only area we are really getting together on now is consideration of the budget. It seems to me that that is a little late in the game to get the specifics.
Can the domestic council adequately handle the task? Do we need a different functioning group? Are the planning functions within the departments adequate for doing this in their budgetary process, which is what we seem to depend on now?
What is a better interface-to use an overworked word between the executive and legislative branches in approaching this problem before we ever get to the budget?
It seems to me that that is the only place where we really come to grips with it on a common ground.
Vice President ROCKEFELLER. I was going to come to that under No. 3, which if it is deficient, what can be done to improve it.
Chairman GLENN. I think we are getting ahead of ourselves.