Good morning, everybody, Miss Davies. Thank you for that eloquent introduction. I'm always glad to have long introductions. In fact, the truth of the matter is that I had an experience in Chicago -- a suburb of Chicago -- about seven years ago that’s made me gun shy about introductions ever since.
On that accession I was speaking to the League of Women Voters and the lady who presented me to the audience looked into my background a little more than I wished she had. She found out that I liked to play tennis and at the climax of her introduction she presented me as one of Chicago's racketeers.
Of course, since coming to Washington I've been called worse things. The Communists a little while ago called me a "butcher and sausage maker” from Chicago. They said, in fact, that I was the head of the CIA, not John McCone. I was a special CIA agent. I used to like to think of myself Walter Mittyish; like James Bond, you know.
The nicest things, however, they called me was an "agent for Wall Street imperialism”. I thought that was pretty good for a Democrat.
Of course, just recently Senator Goldwater started calling me a Czar. The poverty Czar. I’ll tell you the truth, you know, there isn't much room in the Democrat Party for czars. We Democrats know what happens to the czars. But whether it’s Communist attacks or Republican attacks, campaign talk isn’t really going to hurt us very much. As a matter of fact, that campaign lambasting oratory is a little but out of date, I think. I prefer voters. Like last night – I don’t know if you noticed in the morning newspaper --- the United States Senate passed the President’s Anti-Poverty legislation on a very substantial vote, 62-33. I said to myself “sticks and stones may break my bones but votes will never hurt me.”
I think you might look at that vote, actually. Tear it out of the newspaper if you haven’t seen it. Look at it because there’s really a role of honor in connection with that vote. I’d like to call your attention particularly to the Southern Senators who voted for the President’s campaign. Herman Talmadge of Georgia and Olin Johnson of South Carolina. Sam Irvin. Everett Jordan of North Carolina. Senator Fullbright George Smather. Albert Gore. I think they deserve to be on a role of honor for this vote because early in the contest about this legislation in the House some of the Republicans began to try to make it look as if the Poverty Bill was going to be of help specifically to Negroes. The author -- They began to make it look as if this bill mostly for Negroes in an effort to embarrass the author of the bill in the House.
Congressman Phil Landrum of Georgia. The Chairman of the Committee in the House is Adam Clayton Powell, the celebrated minister from New York, and some of the Congressmen over there started calling it the Landrum-Powell bill in an effort to embarrass Congressman Landrum with his constituents in the South. And then on one a the proceedings before the House Committee one of them actually said to Congressman Landrum "Won't this bill be of more help to Negroes than anybody else?” And finally Congressman Landrum made this statement and I have it here in front of me and I'd like to quote it to you. “I want it clearly understood with reference to this bill under my name, [remember, he’s from Georgia now] that I'm proud to have my name on it. That any assistance that it may provide toward eliminating the blight of poverty affecting Americans of all races is a source of pride to me and I'm not ashamed of it. I come from a section of the country that has been bombarded with a great deal of demagoguery. There are many, many Negroes in all sections of the country who are poor. I want it clearly understood that my efforts are directed toward relieving poverty that affect both white and Negro Americans. I want the record made crystal clear on that point. And you will not lessen my enthusiasm for the bill. As a matter of fact that the Administration bill bears my name is only going to intensify my enthusiasm.” Now that came from a Southerner under attack because of the fact that the poverty was going to help Negroes. And every one of those Senators who voted yesterday from the South knew that they would be subjected to the same attack when they went home. It took courage for them to vote for this bill.
And on the opposite side of the isle there were Republicans who voted for this bill and that took courage. Many of the Republicans who voted for this bill were enrolled and active members of the Republican Party before 90% of the Young Americans for Freedom were born, and yet despite the fact that they've been in the Republican Party and proud of the label of the Republican Party all those years and anxious to support their own Presidential nominee, they decided to vote against the nominee, and to vote for a war to eliminate poverty. Senator Aiken of Vermont. John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky. And Mrs. Martha Chase Smith, a gallant and enable and a courageous woman. And Senator Scott of Pennsylvania, a former Chairman of the Republican Party. Senator Case And I was very pleased—you know there’s been a lot of talk about Easterners and how bad everybody in the East is and how much better everybody in the West is (fortunately, I came from Illinois which is right in the middle, as we all know – that’s the mainstream) I was very much interested that Kekoe of California was in this group of Republicans. That’s pretty far West. And I thought to myself when I saw the name Fong, I said “you can’t go further West than Hawaii.
I think this give a little bit of, you might say, of breadth, a little bit of a different angle to this business of North versus South, East versus West. I think that’s all foolish talk and it's un-American talk. It's divisive talk and it doesn’t do anything to unite our people or our country and therefore I think that's the kind of talk we ought to stop indulging ourselves in.
Some people have been talking recently about what makes this country great and they’ve got a lot of philosophical ideas. They’re even beginning to talk about ideologies almost like some fo the Europeans parties.
Well, I personally think it's true it’s not dollars and it’s not the natural resources of this country and it’s not our military might, our guns or our bombs that have made this country great. And I thought to myself about some other great peoples of the world who don’t have guns, factories or bombs or natural resources. Like the Irish people. The Irish people have been known to be great for hundreds of years and yet it's a tiny, little island. All they've had is some courage and some ideas and the willingness to struggle for their ideas.
Or the Polish people who have over a hundred years resisted foreigners who came back and forth across Poland as conquerors.
The Jewish people. How many guns, how many natural resources, how many factories have the Jewish people had over the last thousand years? But there's nobody who doesn't know they're a great people.
And the Russian people. Let's not forget them. Let's not forget the Russian people at the beginning of a political campaign which is going to make it look as if everybody who is in Russia is an ardent Communist and therefore we have to defoliate the trees there and kill all the people.
Political governments come and go but the Russian people will be there long after the Communist government is gone. Just as the American people will be here, united and strong and courageous as long as we talk about things that are of interest to people and not just to politicians.
Everything that I've had the privilege of being connected with since I've come down to Washington has involved people. First of all President Kennedy asked me to take a part in what we called the "talent search" or the "talent hunt" to get the best people to take the top jobs in his Administration. The day after he was elected he asked me to look all over America for men and women, regardless of party, regardless of age, who were the best qualified people to take on the jobs in the Cabinet and other high-level Washington jobs.
And that's exactly what we did. We never worried about whether a person was a Republican or Democrat. We didn't care whether they've been in or out of politics. All we were interested in was competence, courage and conviction. And that's where we got people like the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara. Never had a government job in his life. President Kennedy never saw him in his life until McNamara came to Washington to take the job.
That's where we got men like Newton Minnow who at 34 became one of the most celebrated heads that the Federal Communications Commission's ever had.
Where David Bell who is now the head of the Foreign Aid Administration, an extraordinary and able Government official. And Gene Halaby the head of the Civil Aeronautics Board. A jet pilot himself, a fighter pilot, a test pilot but also a superlative lawyer. And many others. And they came instantaneously when they were asked.
Orville Freeman, the Secretary of Agriculture, I forget, we called him at about eight o'clock one morning and he walked in the office about 11 and I said, “My God, how did you get here so fast?" It turned out he flew. He flew his own jet fighter plane from Minnesota right to Washington.
One fellow we wanted to get to work in the Peace Corps we had a hard time finding. He was a reporter on the San Francisco Chronicle but he was on a little vacation. He was skiing and we tried to get him. We finally got the ski lodge and the next morning at 7:30 in the morning he walked into the office. He still had his ski boots on.
That talent hunt to produce the people in the Administration we continued it over into the Peace Corps. And I honestly believe that the quality of people who come to work for the Peace Corps are the main reason for its success. Not only the fellow who came down with his ski boots but the dozen of other men and women who have come. I'm proud that in the Peace Corps today we have names like Saltenstall and Rockefeller and Taft.
When the people talk about who the Republicans are all I can say is that Robert A. Taft, is in the Peace Corps. That was kind of a break for us, as a matter of fact. His father, Congressman Taft, is in the House and we were trying to get an appropriation bill through the House and Congressman Taft thought it was rather important.
We don't have any discipline in the Peace Corps very much. I did think it was rather helpful that his son was in the Peace Corps. Congressman Taft said that he was in complete dilemma. That if he voted against the Peace Corps appropriation his son would never speak to him again. If he voted for it the voters in Ohio would never speak to him again. But his vote proved that blood is thicker than votes. We got the vote, we sought the appropriations.
We've got five, believe it or not, Saltonstalls in the Peace Corps. They're all Republicans. There's hope. And as I said we have a Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller. I never thought that I'd have a Rockefeller working for me but it's very nice. I recommend it to you. But we've also got room in the Peace Corps for fellows named Manckewitz and Sanchez and we even have an O'Brien or two and this is because we haven't sorted people out on the basis of race, color or creed or national origin or anything like that but solely on the basis of competence.
And another thing about them that has impressed me is the fact that they're young and they're really able. The Deputy Director of the Peace Corps when he took the job was 28 years old. Senator Lauche of Ohio said that nobody 28 should be allowed to make as much money as the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps is making. Since then our fellow has been promoted. He's over in the White House. Bill Moyers.
Moyers countered, however, then Lauche attacked him for being too young. He said, "How old, are you?" and Moyer said, "No, I'm 28 ½."
The general counsel of the Peace Corps, the leading lawyer of the Peace Corps, was 28 ½ when he got that job. I think he's about 29 ½ now. He may be 30 ½ , I'm not sure, but he's fairly young as Government officials go.
The head of Public Information in the Peace Corps was 31. The chief psychiatrist to the Peace Corps is 29. I do have one claim to fame here in Washington the only Government official that has ever had the nerve to travel around the world with my psychiatrist.
The head of all the African programs that we have everywhere over Africa with 16 countries is a fellow 32 years old. The head of all the programs that we have in the Middle East and South Asia is 34 years old. I know that 34 sounds pretty old to you, probably, I hope I don't look too old but I do want to make one claim to fame and that is for many, many months I was the oldest person in the Peace Corps. And if I can just get rid of a few old foggies around there I can get the title back.
The point I'm trying to make is that people have come to the Peace Corps because they believed in it and that the Peace Corps itself has proved two or three fundamental points about Government: Here they are:
First of all, the Peace Corps has done what we said we would do. We haven't done any more than that but we have done what we said we would do. Now in a Government that's unusual. For example, we said that we would sent a Peace Corps volunteer over a $9,000 per annum per volunteer and it actually worked out to that the first year, $9,069. Now as the Peace Corps has gotten bigger the cost per volunteer has gone down so that this year I was able to testify to Congress that the Peace Corps cost would only be $7,800 per volunteer per annum. No one would believe that but it's true. And some people ha said that must be the reason why we have the combined simultaneous Support of Hubert H. Humphrey and Barry Goldwater. But whatever the reason, it is a fact that the Peace Corps has done what we said we would do. The people go overseas, they live in local housing, eat the local food, they live under local laws, they don't have diplomatic privileges and immunities, they get along without fancy automobiles or air conditioning, television, hamburgers, bobby pins and everything else. We live over there the way we said we would.
The next thing we said that the young people would be competent. And that's been proven true. So far there's probably not been more than a handful out of the 10,000 people who have volunteered who have been sent home because they were incompetent on the work, on the job. You might say, "Well, that isn't very much because after all they're just doing simple things like digging a ditch, or working in a field or building little houses or something like that."
Well, in fact, we've got lawyers in the Peace Corps. Half of the law school, half of the faculty of the law school, the first law school in the history of Ethiopia is composed of Peace Corps volunteers. We have social workers in the Peace Corps who have started the first social work school in Honduras, Central America.
We've got architects in the Peace Corps. We’ve got geologists in the Peace Corps. We have business men in the Peace Corps. We have 250 registered nurses in the Peace Corps. We have 450 men and women teaching in universities, faculty positions, in Universities all over the world. These are difficult jobs. They require great competence and the Peace Corps has proved that they could do that.
Another thing about them is that they have proved to be popular. We didn't start the Peace Corps to win a popularity prize but we all know that slogan, "Yankee, go home." In countries where the Peace Corps has been working that slogan and I've seen it myself has been changed to another slogan, "Send us more Peace Corps Volunteers:" That's true in Peru. It's true in Tideland. It's true in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, a country that has been conquered repeatedly by people from Genghis Khan to the present day. They're very suspicious of foreigners. Any foreigners. The Peace Corps is the first institution and the only one in that country ever to be given freedom to work anywhere in Afghanistan. So as a result today, the Peace Corps volunteers not only work in the capitol city which is called Kabal, but they work all over Afghanistan, in small villages and towns all over that country. The first and only such agency to receive that permission and that had to be given by the cabinet of Afghanistan itself. That's what I mean when I say the Peace Corps volunteers are popular and successful and the program has been respected and copied. There are now 15 to 20 nations which have started Peace Corps operations of their own modeled on the American Peace Corps operation.
Now those four or five points, that you do what you say that you're going to do, that you're competent on the job, that you do it in such a way that you're popular even with foreign people and that you end up by being respected and copied. Those are the qualities of the Peace Corps. Those at are the qualities that we've going to bring into the poverty work and those are the qualities that have made this country great. People with those qualities, people who can go out and achieve the results like the ones I've just talked about, those are the people and those are the factors that have made America great. Your generation is growing up, here you are 5,000 strong, working here as Government interns at the same time that there are another 5,000 who might be sitting here who have been rioting on the streets of Harlem, rioting in other parts of the United States, for their civil rights.
The torch as President Kennedy said, the torch is being passed to a new generation. It’s your generation. The torch is being passed to you. It's also being passed to those people up in Harlem.
I think that the biggest question that you face is how you and they can get together, just as we're trying to get together through the Peace Corps with foreign nations. How can you get together with these people who have been discriminated against, deprived of adequate educational opportunities, health facilities, etc.? How can you get together with them to make this a united country? Well as I say first of all you'd better forget about emphasizing differences, like mast versus West, or North versus South. There good, able, dedicated Americans in every part of this country.
The second thing is to find those people out, through a talent hunt, so to speak, and bring them in to the service of the United States of America. Our government and Our country need the services and help of every such American.
And third is to trust them. To put them into programs like the Peace Corps and the poverty program which are forward-looking programs, which are designed to help the people of our country become freer, better educated, better able to fulfill the role of citizens in a democratic society.
One of the first Peace Corps volunteers --- the first Peace Corps volunteer to die, he died in an airplane crash in Latin America, wrote a letter home to his family. His parents sent it to me after his death and in it he had a paragraph which I think pretty well sums up the spirit of the Peace Corps, and sums up the way we are to look at our own country - - and our own activities in it. He said to them, "Should it come to it, I would rather give my life trying to help these people than to have to give my life looking down a gun barrel at them."
There's no substitute for peace. There is, as General Eisenhower said, no alternative to peace today. So don't be misled by people who tell you that they can achieve some sort of a total victory through military means. There will be no total victory for any one in this room if there is a total war. So pledge yourself not to arms but to men, not to military might but to the moral strength that comes from working with people on a basis of equality without regard to race, color or creed.
Not long ago a Peace Corps volunteer went into an African town and saw a little boy was playing with his mother on the side of the street and he said to his mother, "Look mother, there's a white man." And his mother looked up at this Peace Corps volunteer and said, "No son, that's not a white man, that's a Peace Corps volunteer."
I urge you to work to the day when no one will say, "There's a white man", "There's a colored man," but only, "There's an American." Thank you.
Thank you very much. I did make one mistake here made several, I'm sure, but I mean I just made one that I remember -- and that is that I didn't call any attention to the fact that there are packages on your seats. I want you to know that that was strictly a subterranean operation.
The Peace Corps did not approve of that. I did not come here as a recruiting sergeant. I just want to express my gratitude to the summer interns at the Peace Corps. I was told that they got up voluntarily and stuffed 5,000 envelopes with campaign literature about the Peace Corps and I think they put it on all the chairs here in the auditorium this morning. I would like to thank them but I do want to let you know that it was extracurricular work. They were not ordered to do that. Thank you.
QUESTION & ANSWER PERIOD
Q: John Damos, state of Oregon, Harvard and the Fletcher School. [Shriver: “Oh my goodness!”] Mr. Shriver, as Director on the War on Poverty I wonder if you would comment on the following quote from this week's New Statesman. "Poverty is little more than a talking point, a convenient political football to be pushed around in an election year. Of President Johnson's famous poverty package, only half, $500 million, is in fact new money out of a total budget the region of $1 billion. Some economists believe that something like $5 billion a year would be required to make any real impact on the problem. Furthermore, President Johnson has declared 'The program must be supported and directed by state and local efforts. Our main reliance is on private ingenuity and industry.' To judge by his own statements, President Johnson regards the program as merely ameliorative not structural."
A: Well, I disagree with the New Statesman. First of all, let me say it's not a talking point. President Johnson has stated that this represents a national commitment to eliminate poverty. President Johnson was also too wise and too honest to say that you could eliminate poverty simply by passing one piece of legislation in one year. Our efforts now to eliminate poverty in this country began along time ago. The effort now has a change of succeeding because we’re mobilizing all of the resources of our nation in a single minded purpose to eliminate poverty.
Second, I’d like to say that the poverty program is a $1 billion program and for me a $1 billion is a lot of money no matter what the New Statesmen or those economists think. That is one billion dollars for the first year of our operation. That doesn't mean that in future more money would not be appropriated. Congress can appropriate more money the program works. But I personally believe that if Congress had appropriate $5 billion the first year it would have been a foolishness to do so because we would not have known how to use $5 billion intelligently the first year.
And finally I'd like say that the only way you could use $5 billion in the first year of an operation this would be merely to take money from people who've got it and hand it to people who haven't got it which is what they call 'transfer payments", those economists.
Well, this is not such a hand-out program. We're not taking anything way from anybody and giving it to somebody who doesn't have it. What we are doing is that we've giving Americans a chance to get out of poverty. That’s the American way to solve this program whatever the NewStatesman may think to the contraty. This program is a national commitment to eliminate poverty. That’s the most significant thing about it and it’s not a mere talking point. As a matter of fact, it rather upsets me to hear a good magazine like that say that it’s a “talking point”. The only person who could write a letter like that or a statement like that is someone who has never seen poverty because once you see poverty it’s not just a mere matter of talk. It’s much more important then that. So I would suggest that whoever wrote that might go out and take a look at poverty.
Question: Thomas Cartelage, Steven Alston State College in Texas. Sir, listening to some of your remarks, particularly about the Republicans this morning, it crossed my mind if this wasn’t a sort of warm-up for the campaign. I wonder, would you accept the vice-presidential nomination if it is offered to you and do you could serve your country better as vice president than you could in your present position.
Answer: Well, I'm glad that question came from a Texan. To tell you the truth, I don't think I'm going to be asked and I make a business of not answering questions that I haven't been asked. So I don't have any answer to the question and to tell you the truth that I think there's a great deal about fate in anybody's life. I didn't expect four years ago to be running a Peace Corps and as a matter of fact I had never heard of the Peace Corps. I think that what you have to do with your lives is to be prepared for opportunities as they present themselves to you. There's nothing that I can tell you or anybody alive can tell any one of you today about what opportunities you might have 15 or 20 years from now. You might get a chance to run something as unusual or different as the Pease Corps was for me. What you've got to be ready for, you've got to be prepared for those chances and frankly I tried to keep myself prepared for any chance that might come along.
Question: Roy Shenker, Beachwood High School, Beachwood, Ohio: Obviously, the members of the Peace Corps knew the people and the problems of the people in the countries they serve. Under this assumption have any steps been taken to advance ex-Peace Corps members onto the Political ranks of foreign relations?
Answer: Yes, there have. There have already been a f Peace Corps volunteers, I'd say 15 or 20 employed by the Agency for International Development and they're working in AID programs in various parts of the world. Substantial number of Peace Corps volunteers have taken the Foreign Service Examination and about two or three weeks ago the first Peace Corps volunteer to have passed those examinations and also pass the orals was inducted into the Foreign Service. There are two Peace Corps staff members, fellows who work at the headquarters in Washington, who were brought here to work for the Peace Corps in the talent hunt that I was telling you about a few minutes ago. To of them have been made ambassadors of the United States. As a matter of fact, President Johnson reached into the Peace Corps and took two fellows out of there within a period of 90 days and made them ambassadors which is more than any other agency can claim.
One answer to your question specifically, is now the United State ambassador to Panama which I think is an indication that the President has confidence in people from the Peace Corps handling situations where there's a great deal of po1itical sensitivity. Now other Peace Corps staff people have been put into other positions of influence and authority here in the Government. The one that’s best known right now happens to be Bill Moyer who is a Special Assistant to President Johnson, one of his closest advisers in the White House and Bill – I guess he's 30 years old now the one I was talking about minutes ago --- and Joe Alsop said to me one time Bill Moyers got this job, "Wasn’t it incredible that a 30 year old fellow would have his hand on the throttle of this gigantic, powerful country?" Bill Moyers does have his hard right next to the President on the throttle of the United States and that's an extraordinary thing. It's extremely politically sensitive.
Question: Harold Westliver, Louisiana: Going back to that first statement that was made, the first question more or less, I invite that newspaper and anybody else in here who believes that the war on poverty is just a rabbit out of the hat that if they think that this is what it is, I invite them to come down to Louisiana where in some areas, especially in my state, in my city and around there where we really have poverty, where there is a definite need for the Federal Government or for the state government to take care of this and I feel strongly about it because I've had an opportunity to come here and be with all of these people and my father can give me an education but there are thousands of people in my area who can't have this and I urge you and plead with you to convince the people of America that this is really necessary and come down to St. Martinville and that area.
Question: John Mussin, State of Mississippi, Tulanev University; Going back to the War on Poverty, one of the main plans on this War on Poverty has been the establishment of a domestic Peace Corps so to speak. Could, you compare it to the present-day Peace Corps and CCC of the '30's?
Answer: Yes, that the comparison is much more close to the present Peace Corps than it is to the CCC of the '30's and just to make a point of clarification, we do have in the proposed poverty program a conservation work included in it and that is quite a lot like the CCC of the '30's but that is separate from and different from the volunteers who will serve in the poverty program. Now the volunteers in the poverty program will be people who volunteer first of all and who are recruited and selected and trained nationally in institutions very much in the same way that the Peace Corps volunteers are trained. They will then be offered to localities and states all across the country but they will not be permitted to work in any state unless the governor of that state agrees to their coming to the state. In addition to working in state projects and community projects, these volunteers will be working on Federal lands, on Indian reservations for example, and possibly in the trust territories of the Pacific. The United States is the trustee under the League of Nations and then under the United Nations for a large number of islands over 3,000 of them in the Central Pacific and some of our volunteers in the poverty program may well go to the trust territories of the Pacific. Those who go to the Indian reservations or to the Pacific they will be national volunteers very much like the original National Service Corps envisaged but the others who work locally in the United States will be local volunteers recruited selected and trained nationally but working locally and they will be very much like Peace Corps volunteers I hope both in spirit and in dedication.
Question: Naomi, Maryland University: Senator Goldwater has expressed opposition to President Johnson’s anti-poverty program. Do you know whether his opposition also extends to projects such as project a program which the Government has organized to train 2,000 people to the task of rehabilitating vocationally over 1 million Youths between the ages of 16 and 21. Furthermore, do you think Mr. Goldwater prefers these young people to the mercy of local communities and private organizations?
Answer: Well, I think he's the only one who can answer that question. I don't know about the project that you happen to mention. I don't know what Senator Goldwater thinks of it. Either one of them. They sound good to me. I can't tell you what he thinks about them. I never heard him speak about either one of them.
Question: Patsy Duke, Virginia, University of Virginia: Most psychologist consider two to five as the crucial stage of a child’s development since during this time he begins to learn concepts and functions of the individual. Although, of course we must have young people who have been left behind why does the poverty bill concentrate only on the 16 to 21 age bracket and completely neglects preventative measures that could be taken to correct the deprivation of children of poverty-stricken parents?
Answer: Well, first of all we don't neglect that that you're talking about 2 to 5 year olds. To tell you the truth we don't even neglect the zero to 9 months old. I happen to --- I have a job on the side --- I'm the Executive Director Of the Kennedy Family Foundation and that foundation works in medical research and we concentrate on amusingly enough on children, especially on the causes which produce mental retarded children and of those causes are pre-natal and peri-natal and all of that is before you're years old. So I think I know a little bit about 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6, 7, 8, 9 months and the months immediately following birth and those period in a child's life are extremely important. Now the way we tackle them through the poverty program is through local community action programs. For example, let's say Washington here wants to attack poverty as it exists in Washington, D. C. Washington itself, then, the local citizens are supposed to get up a plan for attacking it here tailor made to Washington's needs. In that plan there could be incorporated nursery schools, for example, to take care of these children, 2 to 5 that you were talking about, to give them the kind of training and experiences that will prepare them to get into the first grade and be effective first graders. Those programs could be financed through the local community action part of the poverty program so in direct answer to your question we are not overlooking the group that you talk about. Now, I hear as I say to make them effective first graders a lot of people sort of amused at that, sort of giggling to themselves, the sad fact is that the girl who asked the question—this is not the sad fact -- is right. The girl is right. There are thousands of Americans —this may be hard for you to believe --- who arrived at the first grade already behind academically, first grade levels. This is because they come from families where, for example, there are no books, where the parents are both illiterate or maybe reading at the third grade level, where there’s no tradition of academic excellence. Where there’s no opportunity to do any homework. They’ve never had any experiences which prepare them the way let’s same middle class kids are prepared to go to the first grade. So they actually arrive behind. Now it is important to give those children a chance to get into the academic life the first grade level properly equipped for such work. For example, in the City of Chicago I was president of the Board of Education there for five years. We had one school district with 25,000 school children in it. That's more than in many cities. There were 250,000 people who lived in this school district. Forty per cent of all the children in that school district, that is 42% of the 25,000 children, had no father and the mothers all went to work at seven o'clock in the morning--most of them did and the children were what they call "latch-key children". That means that when mother gets up at let's say six and gets them breakfast and then she goes out, she locks the front door and puts the kids on the street at 3, 5, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or whatever their ages. Now those kids are the ones that we're talking about and which this girl was talking about. You do have to make special efforts to take care of children who are coming from families of that type and the sad fact is that there literally are thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of them in America.
Question: I'm Peggy Dodge from Illinois and attend Vassar College; Yesterday there were several amendments added to the Poverty Bill, I think you call them Proudy's Marriage Amendments, which the governor was given the veto Power over community action programs and aver establishing the Job Corps in the state. I wonder what you thought the amendments bearings would have on the effectiveness of the program. How much do you think the governors' powers might slow down the getting started of the poverty program?
Answer: We accepted those amendments. They were perfectly agreeable to us. It happens not to be the Proudy amendments, they are amendments which were introduced by George Smathers. The Proudy amendments, Senator Proudy of Vermont that amendment was finally lost and a substitute amendment did pass which was introduced by Senator Smathers of Georgia and all the amendment says is that we should not enter into a contract with a private voluntary agency to carry on activities in a state unless we notify the governor. He has 30 days in which he can veto that contract if he wishes to. If he doesn't do anything within 30 days we go right ahead with the program. The purpose really is to keep the governors of the state informed about what's going on in their state and to make sure that we at the national level don’t buy some mistake that we could very easily make go into business or enter into contracts with local groups in a state which might not be the most desirable ones to carry out a program to combat poverty.
So, we find nothing objectionable in that. Second, with respect to the location of Job Corps sites or camps we found nothing objectionable in that. In fact, it rather helped us a little bit. The reason why is this: There’s a tremendous demand from most states to get these Job Corps sites located within their states so that if there is an occasional governor who doesn't want any of them in his state, that helps us, because that means we can put more into the state of a governor who does want it. It also helps us with the citizens of that state – that is, where the governor doesn’t want them -- because if we don't put any in his state then they can't blame us and that's always nice in Government to have somebody else that you can say is the reason for the problem.
Question: Bob Chure from the State of New York, Columbia University: I think everybody almost everybody -- agrees that there is a poverty problem. We all want to combat it. But large groups of the 35 million people are the aged and the families with female heads. This particular poverty bill which passed the Senate stipulates for 700,000 people, mostly youths, sharecropper farmers, small businessmen. Is this bill wide enough in its appropriation, coverage, to really tackle the poverty problem at its roots?
Answer: Well, first of all, in the community action part of this program the poverty program, Title II, we have assigned $300 million out of a total of $900 million and all of that money could be utilized at the local level in accordance with local plans to help the aged people that you just talked about or the families where the head of the family is the woman, another grip that you just mentioned. So our bill does not overlook those two groups that you just mentioned. Instead, however, of establishing a national program which would be uniform all over America, we decided to put the responsibility for dealing with those problems at the local level so that the local people would become involve in helping those particular groups that you talk about.
Question: (Same questioner) …. We all agree, I think that there are about 35 million people in this country that are poor and this bill at most is going to affect I think according to your testimony 600,000. What do we do about that?
Answer: Well, first of all, my testimony was that 600,000 young people between 16 and 22 would be directly reached by this bill. That’s Title I and there's $400 million in that title and through that title we expect to have direct contact with 600,000 young people. Now in the group 16-21 there's about 1 million to 1,200,000 persons out of school and out of work. We think that if we can reach 600,000 of them in the first year we will be doing very, very well. We may not even, reach that goal.
Title II on the other hand, the community action program which I just mentioned a minute ago, has the potential for reaching millions of families and if it's successful we'll certainly reach millions of families.
The third point is that we don't expect to reach all of the 35 million people in the United States who are poor. Certainly not in the first year. The programs that we put into this bill are programs which have actually been tried and proven are successful program although they may have been only used in one or two cities around the country they work and we have made no pretense to anybody, nor have we made any statements to the effect that we think we're going to reach all of the poor people in America in one year. We’re not going to do that and nobody can do that.
Question: (Same questioner) . . . How long is it going to take, then, and when are we going to reach the other 25 million or 30 million?
Answer: We have said on a number of occasions that we probably can, if the Congress continues to support the program, over a period of 10 years eliminate poverty in the United States. That would be ten years faster than anybody else has done.
Question: Leonard Leates of Villanova University and live in the State of Maryland: Sir, one of the major probes in the War on poverty particularly concerning the chronically depressed are reeducation of people to take type of jobs necessary to bring themselves out of poverty. How do you plan to enact such a program. In particular, in dealing with people who are probably beyond help, that they cannot learn new skills, how do you plan to cope with this?
Answer: Well, the 30, 40 or 50 year old person is now eligible for re-training under the current program call Manpower Retraining and Development and that program, of course, will continue. It’s not strictly a part of the new poverty legislation although it has great affects so far as reducing poverty in the United States is concerned. So anybody who is 30, 40 or 50 can right now be trained at a large part at Government expense so that they can qualify to get a different job or perhaps upgrade themselves in their job. Our program is not aimed at that group because this other program which I already mentioned already exists. So we went down lower than that. We went down to the 16-22 years of age group because there was no effective program for them.
Question: Sidney Stein, Princeton University, New Jersey: Last night on the Senate e floor Job Corps proposal was attacked as not giving needed employment skills to youths who participate in this Job Corps program but rather just giving good working habits. Could you comment?
Answer: Well, if we gave good working habits to everybody who ended up in the Job Corps that would be quite an accomplishment right there. Second thing is that people who go into the Job Corps are going to be volunteers and we know that many of them who volunteer will be actually working at let's say the fourth or fifth grade of reading, writing and 'rithmetic. Now the first thing you have to do with somebody whose at that level of education is get them up to maybe the seventh or eighth grade before you can start to give them any technical skill. So in the Job Corps we propose to do exactly that. If somebody comes in who is otherwise a good person, good motivation, good character, etc., but whose education has been grossly neglected and they're at the fourth grade we will first of all give them basic education. If they can go from the fourth grade to the tenth grade in six months, fine, they will be able to go ahead at that rate within the Job Corps.
If they do get to let’s say the tenth grade of competence then we will transfer them to another division of the Job Corps which we call Educational Centers and in those centers they will get trained. So the answer to the question is very simple: we will take everybody in the Job Corps ahead. We will advance them academically and technically, vocationally, as fast as their able to go and we will give skills, employable skills, to all those who can achieve them during the tow years in the Job Corps.
Question: Ray Dickery, Duke University and I’ll be studying at the University of Ceylon next year; As I understand it, Ceylon is one of the two places in the world where the Peace Corps program has been withdrawn. Did the Peace Corps fail in Ceylon and if not, why not, and why was it withdrawn?
Answer: When are you gang to stop beating your wife? No the Peace Corps program in Ceylon did not fail and before you go there I'll give you a photostatic copy of a letter from the Prime Minister of Ceylon, Mrs. Vandara Anike, a letter written to us, thanking us for the Peace Corps program, etc., and saying explicitly that it was a success. That might be useful for you to have if you get into arguments out there. Second, we suspend--me have just not sent a second group to Ceylon because of the fact that me were not able to devise a program for Ceylon which the Celanese people wanted. You have to remember about the Peace Corps, we only go to do things which we are invited by a host country to do and we can only do those things for which qualified people in this country volunteer.
For example, let's say that Ethiopia asked us to open up a school of astrophysists. We couldn't do that because no astophysists have applied to the Peace Corps.
Now in the case of Ceylon we were not able to get together with the Government of Ceylon on any program that they wanted and we could do so it's quite possible that in the future we, may be asked to do other programs in Ceylon and we may go ahead and do them. That's why the program has temporarily been discontinued but not because of any animosity between that government and ours.
Question: Leonard Gallagher, St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota: Sir, in the event that Congress fails to eliminate the draft what are the possibilities that the Peace Corps could be used to fulfill our military obligation?
Answer: We have a couple of Congressmen here. Maybe we ought to ask them that. The whole question of national service, particularly military service, is now being studied at the Department of Defense and the President think is expecting a report Defense Secretary McNamara within the next six months. It's a very complicated question. There are a number of people who feel that the whole idea of national service should be expanded to include many forms of national service besides military service. One form which might be included is the Peace Corps but there are probably many other types of national service which could also be included. Whether the committee will recommend that to the President remains to be seen and even if they did recommend it, of course, depends on what Congress will do. Congress, after all, is the body which makes the final decision and if Congress Should decide that service in the Peace Corps is sufficiently important from the national point of view that service in it can be considered the equivalent of military service so far as service to the nation is concerned then Congress can legislate that with or without a committee report from anybody. So it's really up to Congress in the final analysis and right at this moment the matter is under study by the appropriate divisions of the Executive Branch.
Answer: (unidentified): Sir, in the event that Congress fails to eliminate the draft what are the possibilities that the Peace Corps could be used to [NOTE: The end of the second tape and the beginning of the third tape overlapped. Therefore, the above question has already been asked and, answered]
Question: Al Stoge, University of Chicago Law School: My question refers to Title I of the Poverty Bill. On Wednesday, Senator Proudy on the floor of the Senate in referring to the Job Corps section of the Poverty Bill suggested a provision prohibiting political solicitation in these labor camps by the Administration in power. As an example of such abuse, Proudy referred to activities by the Young Democrats for Johnson and these White House seminars. Do you disapprove of such a provision in the Poverty Bill?
Answer: No, not at all. I'm delighted that it's in there. We never would have permitted that even, if the amendment wasn't in there. In fact the Peace Corps has had a regulation that prohibits Peace Corps volunteers from participating in political activity overseas or participating in any religious proselytizing while they're overseas. We established that regulation ourselves. It wasn't necessary to pub an amendment in the Peace Corps bill stating that we couldn't do that. We don't want to do it and we don't want to have any political propaganda in Job Corps sites. So I was perfectly happy when Senator Proudy put that in. It doesn't bother us a bit.
Question: Bob Malone from St. John's High School, Chevy Chase, Maryland: It seems to me that most of the students here have been speaking as young Democrats. As a young non-committed I would like to ask you a few questions right now. First question asked you was a statement from the New Statesman. The student said that President Johnson's new poverty bill was just a political football to be kicked around. You mentioned that poverty is not a political football. I think that everyone in the United States would agree with this view but the question is whether or not President Johnson is using his poverty bill as a political football in his upcoming political campaign not whether or not the question of poverty is something to joke about as the student from Louisiana mentioned. How can we be assured that President Johnson is going to carry through his bill and use the funds that our parents are paying the taxes for poverty in the United States to get rid of poverty within the next ten years as you prophesized?
Answer: Well, first of all think it's to remember that this legislation was inaugurated by President Kennedy in 1963. It takes a while to develop a program of this type. President Kennedy, after reading a couple of books, one of which was "The Other American” by Michael Harrington, asked the Council of Economic Advisers, the Department of Labor, the Department of HEW, the Department of Justice and Commerce to report to him as to whether there were any steps which the Federal Government ought to take to help reduce poverty in the United States over and above what the Federal Government was already doing and over and above what private business and private philanthropy was already doing. So these departments of Government started eight months ago to try and make a study to figure out what ought to be done. Now this started in 1963. That's not an election year. As I say it took a time for this work to mature and it wasn't until the end of January that these departments were ready with their recommendations and the President asked me to take a look at what they were recommending. And then after having studied them anew myself to make some proposals to him. I personally believe that as one fellow said here a little while ago, everybody agrees that there's somewhere around 30 million poor people in the United States. If the Federal Government refused or abstained from undertaking desirable action which would help those people in poverty solely because they could be subjected to the charge that it was being done as a political thing in an election year then I think that the Government would be derelict in its moral duty.
Simply --- You know the easy thing is to anticipate that there will be criticisms and it was embody was going to make the criticisms which you therefore the easy thing would have been don't do anything because you would be subjected to this criticism. But that would have been, as I say, immoral so the president decided in view of what the Departments of Government reported to him after they made these studies which President Kennedy started, that a poverty Program should be undertaken. Now every year, the person who runs the poverty program has to go back to Congress to get an authorization and appropriation, not just one but both. That means that about eight months from now the man whose running the poverty programs, lets say it’s me, I will have to go back to Congress and I’ll have to spread on the table in front of every Congressman and every Senator of both parties, exactly what we’ve done with the money which was given to us. Anybody would be stupid, foolish and any other nasty word you can think of if eight months from now he went over there and spread out a record of performance which disclosed that this program had been run in a political way, for political purposes and nobody with any integrity is going to do that. So therefore I say that first of all the program was started before an election year. Second, it is being undertaken because moral responsibility as well as a practical possibility of doing something effective for poor people and third this program in and the management of it is completely responsible to Congress, year after year after year. And if it's run in a politically bad way Congress will stop it just like that and they should.
Question: Lee Bailey, Minnesota, University of Minnesota: A Government pamphlet entitled "The Aspects of Economic Opportunities Act, 1964" quoted Howard Burch an Administrator in the Department of Agriculture as having this to say about the nation's farm families:
"Among the poverty-stricken farm families are about 1 million families that might be termed 'boxed in'. They are headed by a person so handicapped by age, by lack of education or physical, inability or a combination of these."
My question is, in regard to the total commitment on poverty in the $1,500 grant and the $2,000 loan under Title III of the Poverty Bill strike at the roots of poverty in which these farm families are held?
Answer: The answer is “Yes”. Title III which is the agriculture part of this program can strike at the roots of poverty for the boxed-in farm family and that's exactly we propose to do. And the program as proposed was in part created by the man who wrote what you just read, Howard Burch, the director of the Farm Home Administration. Mr. Burch agreed completely that this program that we're proposing does strike at the roots of poverty on the farm and would help the boxed-in farmer.
Now the sad thing is that we haven't been able to convince Congress 100% of that fact. We have not been able to convince Congress that what we propose to do with a $1,500 grant would be successful. What happens is that the city Congressmen say, “Well, if you're going to make a $1,500 grant to the boxed in farmer then we want a $1,500 grant for the boxed-in urban dweller” and then you get into something they call "politics". The result is that that particular provision referred to has been stricken from this law. I regret that very much but the program as proposed would have helped the boxed-in farmer that you referred to.
Question: George White, Harvard College, Virginia: As representatives of the American Government in foreign countries as Peace Corps volunteers are often placed in positions where they have to tell about what America means and what America wants and even about partisan political issues. Do Peace Corps volunteers receive any instructions about what they can say and what they can't say, or are they left completely free to say what they wish about America?
Answer: They are left completely free to say what they wish to say about America. However, while they are in training now this is not a contradiction of what I said, they are free. As a matter of fact there are some ex-Peace Corps volunteers right here in the audience. I see them and if you'd like to hear from them about that I'd be happy to ask one of them to come up and tell you. But the truth is they are free. What we say is during the training program we not only give them instructions about the country to which they are going but we do try to give them a refresher course in American history. We try to give them some idea about the problems in our country which they will be asked questions about a in, the particular country to which they are going. But there are no canned answers that we give to questions.
Peace Corps volunteers are totally free. They're free to travel where they wish as long as they stay on the continent where they are assigned. They're free to read what they want to make friends with the people they choose to make friends with. They can live with foreign families in, the countries to which they go. As I said some years ago at the heart of the debate I said “We even, let them read the New York Herald Tribune".
Would you like to comment about that? I just happen to know this girl sitting in the front row whose name is Georgianna Shine who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana for two years. Now Ghana is a place which is considered by some to be politically sensitive and she was one of the first volunteers to go overseas. As a matter of fact, the group that Georgianna was in was the first Peace Corps group to actually go to work overseas and she can tell you now whether she was free to say what she wished.
Georgianna Shine: I'm free to say what I wish as my Director stands here. Seriously though, during our training program we did have this course that Mr. Shriver talked about, certain seminars, lectures, in United States history focusing on problems in America. For example, race relations. The race riots in Detroit in 1943. I was five years old at the time, so in 1960 when we were going through training I didn't know much about these. In fact, I'm not sure if I had been aware of them. When I got to Ghana someone once asked me about these. Simply because I had some training I knew the facts such as they were. I could say, "Yes, I know about them and I understand that this is it." Other than that, I was completely free to say anything I wanted about the United States. I was free to criticize it, I did.
Not long ago--about a week ago--I was making a speech up in New York and someone asked me, "How do Peace Corps volunteers attempt to explain away race problems in America?" We don't. It's a problem that can't be explained away. We're not expected to and this is true of all volunteers. Each of us ---- what better training is there for explaining America and what it means than the fact that I have lived here for 22 years before going overseas as a volunteer? I can explain America. My interpretation may not be the same as each of yours but I can do a pretty good job end Peace Corps assume it. Does that answer the question?
Mr. Shriver: Now you can see why always say that the Peace Corps volunteers are actually the best exponents of the Peace Corps. Much better than the Director. I wonder if there are other volunteers here this morning.
Are there other people in the audience who were volunteers?
I'll say this: if you want to ask questions of Georgianna in fact, if you'd like to come down to the Peace Corps headquarters, we have about 50 people who used to be Peace Corps volunteers, now working for the Peace Corps and this is part of our program which is designed ultimately to turn the whole Peace Corps over to people who have been Peace Corps volunteers and get rid of all the old fuddy, duddy beaurocrats around there.
I guess I have time for one more question.
I'm working at the National Medical Research Institute: I have two questions: One is the Peace Corps program which is conducted in several countries, does it induct natives that have been trained by the Peace Corps into a its program? In other words, is the program exclusively American volunteers? And the second question is – How closely does the Peace Corps cooperate with other similarly oriented agencies such as AID American Federation for Free Labor Development and others?
Answer: In the first place, the Peace Corps is exclusively open to American citizens as volunteers but we have recognized the fact that there are many people who would like to do this type of work in other countries and that's one of the reasons why we have encouraged other countries to start Peace Corps operations of their own and I mentioned in my talk that there are about 12 or 15 countries which have now started their Peace Corps operation and this includes to countries to which we have sent volunteers. For example, Thailand has started one. Bolivia has started one. Nyasaland has started one. Kenya is starting one, etc. So in those countries we work alongside the local volunteers who are in that country. The other half of your question about whether we cooperate closely with these other agencies, the answer is “Yes we do.” It depends upon the programs, however. Some times we work on programs where AID puts up all the money or practically all the money.
For example we build school in Gabon. We build 3-room school buildings and houses. We actually do the work with the Gabonese. The money for the materials has been supplied by AID.
In Columbia in South America we have the first nation-wide educational television program outside of the United States anywhere in the world. We’re running the whole thing. We make the films, we teach on the TV, we run the Ampex tape recorders put the film into the can, then we broadcast it. We go out and actually install the television receiving sets in the classrooms. We put the antennas up on the roof. We service the television. Then we put a teacher in the classroom to help the local teacher utilize the broadcasts that we're sending aver the television. It's sort of like throwing a football and running out and catching it.
So that's a program which, however, is financed greatly by AID so we do have close cooperation with other agencies of Government. We also work closely with other organizations like the African-American Institute, The Asian Institute and others who all doing similar work, work similar to ours in various parts of the world.
I'm awfully sorry that this is coming to an end because I’m talking about my favorite subject obviously and I'd love to stay as long as you would like to have me stay. Just let me say that it has been a terrific experience for me to be here with you. I've enjoyed every bit of it.
I hope all of you are encouraged at least to a small degree to make some specific contribution to your country through national service at the local government, private operation or the National Government. I can assure you one thing: there's plenty of room in Washington for you. We need talented, young Americans, regardless of party.
Thanks a lot.