An Agenda for Public Action The Post wanted to know where Pat Robertson stands on the importantsocial, economic and political matters facing the United States at homeand abroad. The following is a survey of his views on diverse matters: Individual Freedom as a Basis for Political Values A movement is taking place in America both to God and to individualfreedom. Gone are the “good old days,’ if they were gooddays, of laissez-faire capitalism. Gone are the days of the robberbarons of the 1890s.
Gone are the days when men could do what theywanted with their property at the expense of other people. In our future, workers will participate with owners in businesses;Douglas Fraser’s appointment to the board of directors of Chryslerwas not an insignificant precedent. In our future, women are not going back to traditional roles.Although I think it would be better for the future generations if we hadmothers at home with their children, in the next 10 or 20 years we willsee many more women in the work force. In our future we must include women in our highest councils. Wemust include black people, Hispanics, Chinese, American Indians and allother minorities in our midst. Gone are the days when exclusive clubscould determine how the world was going to be run and let the”masses’ take it.
Not only individual freedom fromgovernment, but also the freedom to participate in all elements ofsociety, will continue to grow. An example close to home: The South did not help itself bymaintaining black people in a subservient state. If you have millionsof people living in your midst, everyone is far better off to haveeducated and productive wage earners who become customers and increaseeconomic activity in the whole region. There will be a world-wide trend toward higher wages, moreproductivity and more prosperity for everybody because of increasingindividual freedom and participation. Economic Threats to Free Enterprise One tenet of American political philosophy in which we all believeis the free market. Market forces are very important economically, andwe cannot ignore the fact that the market is not always kind, butsometimes cruel.
The world economic market is going to demand a penaltyfor the profligacy of the Federal Reserve Board and the majorinternational banking organizations of Western countries. They haveloaned billions of dollars of their depositors’ money to ThirdWorld nations unable and unwilling to pay loans back. A $700 billiondebt hangs over Third World nations, and it is going to have to bemanaged responsibly. Closer to home, we are mounting enormous deficits in the UnitedStates government. Since 1940, our population has grown about 70percent, and government expenditures have grown about 4,600 percent;obviously things are out of balance. Peter Grace, in the GraceCommission Report, says we can probably save $430 billion immediatelyand up to $2 trillion in the next ten years if we put certain savings inplace. Even defense specialists acknowledge that we could probably save$60 billion a year in procurement. The government is just out of hand,and it’s running up these incredible deficits.
Lord Rothschild called compound interest the eighth wonder of theworld. We are a victim of the eithth wonder, for the amount of nationaldebt, world-wide, is about $15 trillion. Not enough money is availableto pay off the debt in the foreseeable future, and many governmentscannot afford even the interest on their debt. Inflation is no solution,because the people who buy bonds are going to demand an interest rate ofreturn including a premium over inflation. Low inflation provides thebest opportunity to stabilize world debts. Third World nations borrow and must repay debt denominated indollars, but they have to pay them off in pesos, cruzeiros or whatever.To meet their debt burden, these countries are dumping large quantitiesof their commodities–oil, copper, wool, sugar–on the world market.
Asa result, the world prices of many commodities are going downdrastically. Copper is selling for a good deal less than it costs toproduce it. Corn is selling for less than it costs to produce it. Theworld price of wheat is below its production cost.
Obviously manyfarmers are in trouble; the price of land, even American farmland, isdeclining. We’re in a long-run trend of declining profitability,and those who have these incredible debts are going to be in an awfulbind. The only way out of it is some form of restructuring of debts.Banks and international fiscal organizations must bear some of thepenalty. Certainly, the cost of rescuing the world debt should not beborne solely by the taxpayers of America. The United States government is the greatest of all debtors.
Something clearly must be done. To preserve our economic enterprise andour individual freedom, we need to take a meat ax to the federal budget.It should be cut significantly. Although we hear talk about”Reagan cuts,’ President Reagan hasn’t cut the budget.He has only reduced the rate of budget increase in the past four years.The federal budget is so enormous, mere mortals cannot even conceive of it. You know there is waste beyond measure.
Peter Grace told me thatif we wrote a check to everybody in America who was under the povertyline and sent it to him every month in an amount adequate to bring hisincome above the poverty line, the cost to the federal government wouldbe a tenth of what it now spends on poverty programs. Now what doesthat mean? It means 90 percent of the poverty-program money iscurrently going to the bureaucrats and 10 percent is getting to therecipients. A strong defense is absolutely essential, but our government doesnot need to purchase $700 stepladders and $25 screws. We must breakthis mentality of spending–not because any American is heartless, butbecause all Americans want to be efficient.
Peter Grace has shown ushow to have business management brought into the federal government tohelp it run like a business with a cost-benefit justification for whatit does. Beyond eliminating waste, we need a new philosophy of government toaddress our fundamental budget imbalances. There are clearly things thegovernment should not do. The government should not spend ourtaxpayers’ money to educate our children contrary to the beliefs wehold dear and cherish. That’s wrong.
The federal governmentshould not fund programs that are anathema to the citizens. That iswrong. Two billion dollars worth of consultants running around inWashington right now is more than we need.
That is wrong. There mustbe budget cuts and there must be a renewed commitment to the philosophyarticulated very well by President John Kennedy, who said, “Ask notwhat your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for yourcountry.’ The government cannot support everybody’s need. All Americansare constitutionally entitled to the right to the pursuit of happiness.But we are not entitled to government-guaranteed happiness. The wholerole of government in the life of the individual must be curtailed ifwe’re going to maintain and increase our freedom and liberty.America is a great and a compassionate society; we obviously must lookafter the poor, the needy, the truly destitute, those who are sufferingand hurting. But it has to be an intelligent use of funds guided by themaxim of the apostle Paul: If any man will not work, let him not eat.
That’s what the Bible says. And that’s the way it ought tobe. The Need for a Fair Tax Structure The United States should adopt a new tax structure. Manybusinesses and people of means spend their time trying to figure out taxshelters.
It is unbelievable how much creative energy is spent acrossthis nation on nonproductive projects attempting to beat taxes legally.Furthermore, the United States is said to have an approximately $280billion underground economy in which people are avoiding taxesillegally. I believe we should develop something like a flatpersonal-income-tax system in which the government does not use taxes toaccomplish social purposes. Taxes should be used to raise revenue –endof story.
The multiplicity of loopholes and gimmicks included everytime Congress passes a new tax bill leads the tax code to be called the”the lawyers’ and accountants’ relief act,’ becausethousands of these professionals are needed to interpret the code and toadvise an appropriate action. Our tax code is unbelievable; nobodyunderstands it anymore. It is too complicated and it should besimplified drastically. One great problem in our current tax law is a bias toward borrowingmoney. There are many tax advantages to the borrower and very few tothe man who follows the biblical injunction to stay out of debt. If weare going to provide benefits through the tax code, then the premiumshould be for those who can stay out of debt instead of those who canget into debt.
Instead, the tax law, through allowable deductions,fosters both individual and corporate debt. No reason or necessityexists to do so. If we cut out all the loopholes, Congress could set upa flat tax rate, much as is being discussed currently. A flat tax wouldfree the creative energies of our people for increased economicproductivity instead of tax avoidance. A Solid Social Security System One of the trends we are clearly experiencing is the graying ofAmerica. I am a grandfather now; this is the time one begins to thinkof those wonderful years ahead. But many people will have limitedfinancial means available in their future. When Social Security started out, it was supposed to be asupplement to private pension plans.
Initially, about 70 workerssupported every retiree. Now about 3 workers support every retiree. Byapproximately the year 2010, 2 workers will support every retiree.
Before long, these young workers burdened by extraordinarily high SocialSecurity taxes are going to say, “Hey, grandpa, it’s been fun,but no more.’ It used to be willingly believed by many Americans that a trustfund was set up for Social Security payments. There is no trust fund.The money paid in annually for Social Security goes directly into thepayment of old-age benefits and Medicare payments for the elderly.There is no actuarial reality whatsoever to Social Security.
To fundthe current program properly would take 6 1/2 to 7 trillion dollars.This unfunded liability is five times the current national debt and isthe greatest hidden debt in America. It is also a ticking time bomb.Recently, Congress has raised the Social Security taxes, incorporatedmore workers in the system (now including congressional employees) andraised the minimum salary to about $35,000. Increases are anticipatedannually. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we took all that money that goesinto Social Security and invested it properly with insurance companiesbanks, private business and private enterprise? In a ten-year periodthese private pension funds could invest between 2 1/2 and 3 trilliondollars into the building of factories, new equipment, research anddevelopment and so forth.
This investment would be the biggest economicshot in the arm this country could have, an incredible opportunity torebuild America. People would know that when they retired they wouldhave something. A private pension plan could provide that a personinvesting the equivalent of currently envisioned Social Securitypayments beginning when he was 30 years old and earning about $20,000annually would retire with half a million dollars or more that wouldbelong to him only. It would be his money.
In contrast, we do not have any money with Social Security; we haveno guarantee whatsoever that when the time comes to retire, we willreceive adequate income. This problem will increase as more and morepeople, especially from the aging of the baby boom, retire. Withoutdrastically increased taxes, the Treasury will not have enough money topay them the promised retirement benefits millions of individuals areexpecting. But we must face this problem; hard decisions must be made,and paying a little more to establish an actuarially sound system is onedecision that would make a tremendous start. Federal Courts and Judicial Policy We must see a new policy of the judiciary and the federal courtsystem of America. Thomas Jefferson said that if in matters of theConstitution the Supreme Court were the sole arbiter of what isconstitutional, then we would be placed under the tyranny of anunexpected oligarchy. And precisely that has happened.
In one of themore “liberal’ law schools, the concept is taught that socialchange cannot be brought about through the political process, but it canbe brought about by a small minority working through the courts. Theseschools teach that liberal judges frame issues in their way, selecttheir jurisdiction and begin a body of law that would ultimately changeour society without the changes ever being approved by the voters. Andthat is what has been done. For example, federal judges in Boston said,in essence: We are going to take over the school system, and we aregoing to tell the city council it must appropriate funds to send busesinto certain parts of the city, and if not, we will hold the electedofficials in contempt of court.
Now, these federal judges are notaccountable to the voters. Three judges on the U.S. Supreme Court are moving along in years.Perhaps one of the most profound changes that Ronald Reagan could makein his second term would be to place an imprimatur on the U.S. SupremeCourt that would last well past the year 2000. Replacing retiringjustices is probably the greatest opportunity to refocus judicial policyin our lifetime.
A new judicial policy could change the court’sabortion policy. It could reverse the incredible interpretation of theestablishment-of-religion clause in our Constitution. Also in need ofchange are decisions on school prayer, forced busing, criminaljurisdiction, the exclusionary rule and others. These decisions couldbe reversed with just the appointment of a couple more judges.
President Reagan will have that privilege, I believe, in the next fouryears. But we must insist on men and women of good will and judicialcharacter who are traditional in their values and who believe in thehistoric interpretation of the Constitution. New Morality in Education We are going to see a new morality in education. You cannoteducate children in a moral vacuum. There is no way that you can teachwithout teaching some system of moral values. If you do not teach theJudeo-Christian or some other religiously based morality in schools, youwill ultimately teach humanism or atheism.
There is no alternative.The humanists have not only declared that they are going to triumph overthe rotting corpse of Christianity, but that humanist teachers willbecome activists in proclaiming their values in the classroom. Wecannot allow that to happen. The time has come when Americans need tobecome much more involved in schools, in school boards and in thedecisions of the boards or councils of education in each state. It is absolutely imperative for the future of our nation that youngmen and young women be trained in the principles of the whole Bible, inthe principles that undergird our freedoms as a nation, in the historiccontinuity of our country and in the fundamental values that have madethis nation great. If we fail to do that, the next several generationswill face a bleak future.
A Bright Future I believe that the next few years will be the most exciting periodthis nation has ever known. Unbelievable opportunities lie before us.In some instances, opportunity may come because of the crumbling of oldinstitutions: the socialist systems, the humanist educational schemes,the jerry-built international banking systems, to name a few. Therewill be some pain and suffering, but the opportunity to build a newsolid foundation is before us. Nobody has any conception of what awonderful place this nation, this world can be if we take theopportunity that is ours. I recall the Chinese fable about a young man who came to see aphilosopher and said, “Old man, you’re a teacher.
You aresupposed to be so wise. You know everything.’ Then he said,”I have a bird in my hand.’ He held it up and asked,”Tell me, old man, is this bird alive or dead?’ –much as youmight look at our country in pessimistic moods and say, “Is thisnation alive or dead?’ The teacher looked at the young man for amoment or two. He realized that the youth had in his hand a live bird,but need only squeeze his hand and the bird would be dead. So heanswered, “Young man, as thou wilt, as thou wilt.’ For those of us in a position of leadership, the answer is,”As we will.’ With God’s help, we can see the next 4, 8or 12 years to be absolutely incredible opportunities for our societyand our world.