An agenda for public action Essay

An Agenda for Public Action

The Post wanted to know where Pat Robertson stands on the important
social, economic and political matters facing the United States at home
and abroad. The following is a survey of his views on diverse matters:

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Individual Freedom as a Basis for Political Values

A movement is taking place in America both to God and to individual
freedom. Gone are the “good old days,’ if they were good
days, of laissez-faire capitalism. Gone are the days of the robber
barons of the 1890s. Gone are the days when men could do what they
wanted 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 Chrysler
was 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 had
mothers at home with their children, in the next 10 or 20 years we will
see many more women in the work force.

In our future we must include women in our highest councils. We
must include black people, Hispanics, Chinese, American Indians and all
other minorities in our midst. Gone are the days when exclusive clubs
could determine how the world was going to be run and let the
“masses’ take it. Not only individual freedom from
government, but also the freedom to participate in all elements of
society, will continue to grow.

An example close to home: The South did not help itself by
maintaining black people in a subservient state. If you have millions
of people living in your midst, everyone is far better off to have
educated and productive wage earners who become customers and increase
economic activity in the whole region.

There will be a world-wide trend toward higher wages, more
productivity and more prosperity for everybody because of increasing
individual freedom and participation.

Economic Threats to Free Enterprise

One tenet of American political philosophy in which we all believe
is the free market. Market forces are very important economically, and
we cannot ignore the fact that the market is not always kind, but
sometimes cruel. The world economic market is going to demand a penalty
for the profligacy of the Federal Reserve Board and the major
international banking organizations of Western countries. They have
loaned billions of dollars of their depositors’ money to Third
World nations unable and unwilling to pay loans back. A $700 billion
debt hangs over Third World nations, and it is going to have to be
managed responsibly.

Closer to home, we are mounting enormous deficits in the United
States government. Since 1940, our population has grown about 70
percent, and government expenditures have grown about 4,600 percent;
obviously things are out of balance. Peter Grace, in the Grace
Commission Report, says we can probably save $430 billion immediately
and up to $2 trillion in the next ten years if we put certain savings in
place. 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 the
world. We are a victim of the eithth wonder, for the amount of national
debt, world-wide, is about $15 trillion. Not enough money is available
to pay off the debt in the foreseeable future, and many governments
cannot afford even the interest on their debt. Inflation is no solution,
because the people who buy bonds are going to demand an interest rate of
return including a premium over inflation. Low inflation provides the
best opportunity to stabilize world debts.

Third World nations borrow and must repay debt denominated in
dollars, but they have to pay them off in pesos, cruzeiros or whatever.
To meet their debt burden, these countries are dumping large quantities
of their commodities–oil, copper, wool, sugar–on the world market. As
a result, the world prices of many commodities are going down
drastically. Copper is selling for a good deal less than it costs to
produce it. Corn is selling for less than it costs to produce it. The
world price of wheat is below its production cost. Obviously many
farmers are in trouble; the price of land, even American farmland, is
declining. We’re in a long-run trend of declining profitability,
and those who have these incredible debts are going to be in an awful
bind. The only way out of it is some form of restructuring of debts.
Banks and international fiscal organizations must bear some of the
penalty. Certainly, the cost of rescuing the world debt should not be
borne 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 and
our 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 that
if we wrote a check to everybody in America who was under the poverty
line and sent it to him every month in an amount adequate to bring his
income above the poverty line, the cost to the federal government would
be a tenth of what it now spends on poverty programs. Now what does
that mean? It means 90 percent of the poverty-program money is
currently going to the bureaucrats and 10 percent is getting to the

A strong defense is absolutely essential, but our government does
not need to purchase $700 stepladders and $25 screws. We must break
this mentality of spending–not because any American is heartless, but
because all Americans want to be efficient. Peter Grace has shown us
how to have business management brought into the federal government to
help it run like a business with a cost-benefit justification for what
it does.

Beyond eliminating waste, we need a new philosophy of government to
address our fundamental budget imbalances. There are clearly things the
government should not do. The government should not spend our
taxpayers’ money to educate our children contrary to the beliefs we
hold dear and cherish. That’s wrong. The federal government
should not fund programs that are anathema to the citizens. That is
wrong. Two billion dollars worth of consultants running around in
Washington right now is more than we need. That is wrong. There must
be budget cuts and there must be a renewed commitment to the philosophy
articulated very well by President John Kennedy, who said, “Ask not
what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your

The government cannot support everybody’s need. All Americans
are constitutionally entitled to the right to the pursuit of happiness.
But we are not entitled to government-guaranteed happiness. The whole
role of government in the life of the individual must be curtailed if
we’re going to maintain and increase our freedom and liberty.
America is a great and a compassionate society; we obviously must look
after the poor, the needy, the truly destitute, those who are suffering
and hurting. But it has to be an intelligent use of funds guided by the
maxim 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 to

The Need for a Fair Tax Structure

The United States should adopt a new tax structure. Many
businesses and people of means spend their time trying to figure out tax
shelters. It is unbelievable how much creative energy is spent across
this nation on nonproductive projects attempting to beat taxes legally.
Furthermore, the United States is said to have an approximately $280
billion underground economy in which people are avoiding taxes
illegally. I believe we should develop something like a flat
personal-income-tax system in which the government does not use taxes to
accomplish social purposes. Taxes should be used to raise revenue –end
of story. The multiplicity of loopholes and gimmicks included every
time Congress passes a new tax bill leads the tax code to be called the
“the lawyers’ and accountants’ relief act,’ because
thousands of these professionals are needed to interpret the code and to
advise an appropriate action. Our tax code is unbelievable; nobody
understands it anymore. It is too complicated and it should be
simplified drastically.

One great problem in our current tax law is a bias toward borrowing
money. There are many tax advantages to the borrower and very few to
the man who follows the biblical injunction to stay out of debt. If we
are going to provide benefits through the tax code, then the premium
should be for those who can stay out of debt instead of those who can
get into debt. Instead, the tax law, through allowable deductions,
fosters both individual and corporate debt. No reason or necessity
exists to do so. If we cut out all the loopholes, Congress could set up
a flat tax rate, much as is being discussed currently. A flat tax would
free the creative energies of our people for increased economic
productivity instead of tax avoidance.

A Solid Social Security System

One of the trends we are clearly experiencing is the graying of
America. I am a grandfather now; this is the time one begins to think
of those wonderful years ahead. But many people will have limited
financial means available in their future.

When Social Security started out, it was supposed to be a
supplement to private pension plans. Initially, about 70 workers
supported every retiree. Now about 3 workers support every retiree. By
approximately the year 2010, 2 workers will support every retiree.
Before long, these young workers burdened by extraordinarily high Social
Security 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 trust
fund was set up for Social Security payments. There is no trust fund.
The money paid in annually for Social Security goes directly into the
payment of old-age benefits and Medicare payments for the elderly.
There is no actuarial reality whatsoever to Social Security. To fund
the current program properly would take 6 1/2 to 7 trillion dollars.
This unfunded liability is five times the current national debt and is
the greatest hidden debt in America. It is also a ticking time bomb.
Recently, Congress has raised the Social Security taxes, incorporated
more workers in the system (now including congressional employees) and
raised the minimum salary to about $35,000. Increases are anticipated

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we took all that money that goes
into Social Security and invested it properly with insurance companies
banks, private business and private enterprise? In a ten-year period
these private pension funds could invest between 2 1/2 and 3 trillion
dollars into the building of factories, new equipment, research and
development and so forth. This investment would be the biggest economic
shot in the arm this country could have, an incredible opportunity to
rebuild America. People would know that when they retired they would
have something. A private pension plan could provide that a person
investing the equivalent of currently envisioned Social Security
payments beginning when he was 30 years old and earning about $20,000
annually would retire with half a million dollars or more that would
belong to him only. It would be his money.

In contrast, we do not have any money with Social Security; we have
no guarantee whatsoever that when the time comes to retire, we will
receive adequate income. This problem will increase as more and more
people, especially from the aging of the baby boom, retire. Without
drastically increased taxes, the Treasury will not have enough money to
pay them the promised retirement benefits millions of individuals are
expecting. But we must face this problem; hard decisions must be made,
and paying a little more to establish an actuarially sound system is one
decision that would make a tremendous start.

Federal Courts and Judicial Policy

We must see a new policy of the judiciary and the federal court
system of America. Thomas Jefferson said that if in matters of the
Constitution the Supreme Court were the sole arbiter of what is
constitutional, then we would be placed under the tyranny of an
unexpected oligarchy. And precisely that has happened. In one of the
more “liberal’ law schools, the concept is taught that social
change cannot be brought about through the political process, but it can
be brought about by a small minority working through the courts. These
schools teach that liberal judges frame issues in their way, select
their jurisdiction and begin a body of law that would ultimately change
our society without the changes ever being approved by the voters. And
that 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 are
going to tell the city council it must appropriate funds to send buses
into certain parts of the city, and if not, we will hold the elected
officials in contempt of court. Now, these federal judges are not
accountable 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 make
in his second term would be to place an imprimatur on the U.S. Supreme
Court that would last well past the year 2000. Replacing retiring
justices is probably the greatest opportunity to refocus judicial policy
in our lifetime. A new judicial policy could change the court’s
abortion policy. It could reverse the incredible interpretation of the
establishment-of-religion clause in our Constitution. Also in need of
change are decisions on school prayer, forced busing, criminal
jurisdiction, the exclusionary rule and others. These decisions could
be reversed with just the appointment of a couple more judges.
President Reagan will have that privilege, I believe, in the next four
years. But we must insist on men and women of good will and judicial
character who are traditional in their values and who believe in the
historic interpretation of the Constitution.

New Morality in Education

We are going to see a new morality in education. You cannot
educate children in a moral vacuum. There is no way that you can teach
without teaching some system of moral values. If you do not teach the
Judeo-Christian or some other religiously based morality in schools, you
will ultimately teach humanism or atheism. There is no alternative.
The humanists have not only declared that they are going to triumph over
the rotting corpse of Christianity, but that humanist teachers will
become activists in proclaiming their values in the classroom. We
cannot allow that to happen. The time has come when Americans need to
become much more involved in schools, in school boards and in the
decisions of the boards or councils of education in each state.

It is absolutely imperative for the future of our nation that young
men and young women be trained in the principles of the whole Bible, in
the principles that undergird our freedoms as a nation, in the historic
continuity of our country and in the fundamental values that have made
this nation great. If we fail to do that, the next several generations
will face a bleak future.

A Bright Future

I believe that the next few years will be the most exciting period
this nation has ever known. Unbelievable opportunities lie before us.
In some instances, opportunity may come because of the crumbling of old
institutions: the socialist systems, the humanist educational schemes,
the jerry-built international banking systems, to name a few. There
will be some pain and suffering, but the opportunity to build a new
solid foundation is before us. Nobody has any conception of what a
wonderful place this nation, this world can be if we take the
opportunity that is ours.

I recall the Chinese fable about a young man who came to see a
philosopher and said, “Old man, you’re a teacher. You are
supposed 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 you
might look at our country in pessimistic moods and say, “Is this
nation alive or dead?’ The teacher looked at the young man for a
moment 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 he
answered, “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, 8
or 12 years to be absolutely incredible opportunities for our society
and our world.


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