This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A single text of the speech, in the form of a reading copy, exists in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library. Page images of the reading copy can be found here.
A good politician, I am told, should follow three basic principles: glorify the past - avoid the present - and talk endlessly about the future (except, they should add, when you're on television).
But here in Arizona, past-present-and-future are all tied up together - all connected and mingled in the fast-changing, fast-moving period this state is now going through. "What is past is prologue," reads the inscription on the National Archives Building in Washington. And "the future," says the poet Rilke, "enters into us - long before it happens."
Certainly that is the situation here in Arizona. The last 20 years - when your population more than doubled - have been only the prologue of what is to come. The thousands of new citizens pouring in every month make this state one of the fastest-growing states in the country. We can already see the future in Arizona - it is golden with opportunity - but it is also fraught with problems.
For growth is good - it is healthy - it can help everyone. But the next President of the United States must recognize what happens when this country adds - during the next 15 years - an additional population equal to the entire population of France.
To feed and sustain some 230 million Americans in 1975 will take twice as much water as we now have, twice as much food, and three times as much power. We will need an estimated 3½ million more acres on which to grow food - we will need millions more for cities and suburbs, parks and preserves, airports and highways. We will need wise counsel - and we will need determined, progressive leadership.
But we need that leadership now, not in 1975. We need it now to help states like Arizona grow, and help its citizens get through these "growing pains." Specifically what we need - to make certain we get the right kind of growth, in the right direction at the right time - is Presidential leadership aimed at making better use of our American resources -
-- our natural resources --
-- our financial resources --
-- and our human resources.
As long as these resources are not being properly used or protected - as long as our national assets are squandered or neglected - as long as our nation is living off its accumulated capital, so to speak, with no investment in the future - as long as these conditions prevail, we have no right to boast about efficiency and economy in government.
Ignoring the problems of growth that are staring us in the face is not efficiency. Destroying the hopes of tomorrow by short-sighted restrictions today is not economical.
There is no real savings, for example, in cutting in half the funds needed to preserve and renew our great national forests - forests which, properly managed, would provide jobs for 6 million Americans, provide a source of water supply for 1,600 cities and towns, and more than repay through timber sales and otherwise every penny invested.
There is no real savings in permitting more streams to be polluted, more mines to close, more farms to be sold, more small businesses to fail, more children to receive an inadequate education. That is not real efficiency. That is not real economy. What we need, I repeat, is Presidential leadership aimed at making better use of our American resources -
-- our natural resources --
-- our financial resources --
-- and our human resources.
Natural resources are particularly precious here in the West - and no natural resource is more precious than water - not gold or silver or uranium, but water - water for new homes and families - water for new industries - water to expand the irrigation systems you depend on to grow cotton, citrus and vegetable crops.
Water - we take it for granted sometimes. No blessing is more widely distributed. But it is not equally distributed - and that is your problem here in Arizona. For 20% of the surface area in the Western states originates 80% of the water yield. The people living on the other 80% of the land have - as a fact of nature - only 20% of the water.
To give them more water - to increase the total supply and get it to them - to act before it is too late, before the supply is exhausted, before water rationing and dry faucets and dust storms cover half the West - will require a new and different kind of vigor in Washington. And November 1960 will be your chance to vote for that kind of leadership.
Today we are using, it is estimated, only 1/5 of what we might use of the water already available to us. We need more research on the loss of ground water through evaporation. We need more vigor, not vetoes, in attacking water pollution, the contaminated streams that plague our cities, threaten our health, spoil our recreation and drive away new industries. There are pollution control projects underway in 16 communities in this state, helped by $2 million in Federal matching funds. This is not socialism - there is no Federal control of local sanitation. This is a joint effort of Federal, state and local governments to attack a national menace in a national fashion - and it deserves to be stepped up and expanded, not vetoed.
There is one other approach to utilizing more of the water that is available - and that is better management of our small watersheds. With the assistance of federal funds, Arizona a few years ago inaugurated under Governor Ernest McFarland and chairman Lewis Douglas the Arizona Watershed Program - the first such statewide study-and-action program in the nation, and destined to provide more water, timber, grass, recreation, and other benefits for all the people of Arizona.
But it is not enough merely to increase the amount of useable water from existing sources. We will have to increase the supply of water itself. That will take work. It will take vision. It will take research.
But it can be done. For virtually unlimited supplies of water are literally all around us, if we can only tap them - in the sky and the sea. The first requires that we learn more about controlling local weather conditions in limited areas - and scientists at the University of Arizona and elsewhere may be approaching the answer on this. To use ocean depths - to find an economical way of obtaining fresh water from salt water - is a dream several centuries old that is now within our reach. If we can score this dramatic breakthrough, we shall not only immeasurably enrich our own land, make our desert bloom, and end forever California's quarrel with her sister states - we shall also have won the undying gratitude of every parched desert land along the Mediterranean, African, Indian and other oceans. It will do more for American prestige than Sputnik ever did for the Russians.
But unfortunately - although we have a federal research and testing program - it has been starved and neglected in Washington. I do not say all these jobs should be left to Washington alone. I do say that these are national problems that require national action - and that means not only matching funds but matching faith by the Federal Government. That faith - faith in the future of our country, faith in our growth, in the new and untried - is a Democratic trademark. And we are returning it to the White House in November 1960.
But natural resource development is not enough. A shortage of financial resources is just as crippling to the West and its growth. Let me read to you an Associated Press dispatch of March 25, datelined Washington. It cites a Labor Department report showing that "mortgage rates have risen persistently for 18 months (and are now) ... about 8% higher than a year ago, with increases reported particularly heavy in Western states."
It is the Western home-buyer or businessman who has to pay the highest interest rates of the country. It is the West - because its rapid expansion requires great and flexible financial resources - that has been hit hardest by the artificial scarcity of money.
Tight money sounds like a far-off abstraction. But you know what it means if you bought a car on the installment plan. You know what it means if your child goes to an over-crowded school, because the high interest rates are using up money that should go into classrooms. And you certainly know what it means if you went to buy a twenty thousand dollar home on a 30-year mortgage, and learned you will have to pay an additional $23,000 - more than the cost of the home itself - in interest charges. Some $9,000 of this interest payment is the direct result of the high interest rate policies of this administration - $9,000 for which your family gets nothing, not a window, not a brick, not a blade of grass.
Here in the West where you desperately need to grow - where you need new homes and factories and office buildings, new schools and parks and hospitals - tight money is a real disaster. It is the worst possible policy for our financial resources. They are harder to find. They are more expensive to use. The large corporation has plenty of its own capital, and is a preferred customer at the bank besides. But the small businessman or homeowner or farmer - the man who has to borrow before he can expand, and already finds every cost is at a record high - is caught in the squeeze: dollars are harder and more expensive to get, and go a lot less further once you get them.
We need to liberate those financial resources. We need to live up to our potential. We need to get started on a building and expansion boom here in the West during the next decade that will make the last decade's growth seem paltry by comparison. The homes, the dams, the schools, the cities and hospitals and private buildings of every kind that will spring up all over this area will help build a better America - showing the world what can be done with a vigorous Democratic Administration "back in the saddle."
Finally, what about our human resources? Can we build this material prosperity without making sure our abundance is shared with all groups in our society? Do the fabulous sixties require efforts only on behalf of our natural and financial resources?
The facts we need to answer these questions are shocking. We have still not met the needs of the 17 million Americans who go to bed hungry every night - the 15 million families living in substandard housing - the 7 million families struggling to survive on incomes less than $2,000 a year. We have more than 3 million unemployed workers, with jobless benefits averaging less than $31 a week. We have 16 million Americans aged 65 and over - and 80 percent are living out their lives without a decent income. Five million homes in American cities lack any plumbing of any kind; seven million are unfit and ought to be replaced. One hundred and nineteen labor markets are still classified as distressed areas, with one out of eight workers unemployed. Six million American children live in the overcrowded hovels that breed delinquency, crime and disease. Millions of American workers are being paid less than $1 an hour, to say nothing of $1.25.
It is no answer to say that there is no poverty in your own community - that there are no slums in your neighborhood. For this is one nation of one people. The poorly educated may be voting for your President. The unemployed and needy may be using your tax dollars. The ill and the delinquent may be moving into your area.
Our prosperity must be prosperity for all. Our growth should leave no group behind. And that includes our older citizens, who have earned a decent and healthful retirement. Today 16 million Americans are past the age of 65 - and this number increases by more than 1,000 each and every day in the year. Three out of every five of these Americans - more than 9.5 million people - must struggle to survive on an income of under $1,000 a year. And the average social security check is a pitiful $72 a month.
These inadequate funds are hopelessly small to pay for medicines and drugs that are more expensive than ever before. Hospital rates have more than doubled - doctor bills have skyrocketed - and almost 20 percent of all those on social security must use one-quarter to one-half of their meager annual incomes for medical expenses alone. Their needs must be met by this Congress - or else by a new and sympathetic President.
Another challenge we must not forget in our "gold-rush" to prosperity is that of providing for a better and more productive life for our reservation Indians. Far too little has been done in this field, despite the untiring efforts of Congressman Udall. Reservation lands should and can be made self-sufficient - through a broader and more enlightened program of education, industrialization and irrigation. Such a program must of necessity be gradual - but it must be pursued with more determination - and with more compassion - than has been shown in Washington in recent years.
There are other groups and other problems - problems of growth - of sharing abundance - of using to the utmost our natural, financial and human resources. These are not simply matters of the budget. What nation's budget is balanced if its forests go to run, if its water becomes contaminated, if its mines lie idle, if its rich soil blows away as dust, if its older people and its native Indians suffer indefensible privation, if its homeowners and small businessmen are caught in the frustrating squeeze of a high-interest and tight-money economy? This is bad business and bad budgeting and bad for the country.
All of this will be in the lap of the next President. He can postpone - he can consult - he can study and implore and deplore - but sooner or later, for better or worse, he must act. He must act if we are to realize the American dream. He must act if the West is to be a real frontier of opportunity. He must act if he is to follow in the path of a great President elected just 100 years ago.
I am thinking of Abraham Lincoln summoning his war-time Cabinet to a meeting on the Emancipation Proclamation. That Cabinet had been carefully chosen to please and reflect many elements in the country. But "I have gathered you together, Lincoln said, "to hear what I have written down. I do not wish your advice about the main matter - that I have determined for myself."
And later, when he went to sign it after several hours of exhausting hand-shaking that had left his arm weak, he said to those present: "If my name goes down in history, it will be for this act. My whole soul is in it. If my hand trembles when I sign this Proclamation, all who examine the document hereafter will say: 'He hesitated'."
But Lincoln's hand did not tremble. He did not hesitate. He did not equivocate. For he was the President of the United States.
It is in this spirit that we must go forth in the coming months and years.