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Pine Bluff Commercial (Joseph Torres)
Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. was keynote speaker at the Townhall Meeting held at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

Lyndon LaRouche
Town Meeting
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
February 23, 2003

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Well, I have some very bad news for you, and some good news. I suppose that's the way it's supposed to be.

The world is now, contrary to reports, in a depression which is worse than that of 1929-33. The United States is hard hit. The nations of Europe, and the Americas, are all hard hit. Under the present circumstances, and present policies, there will never be an economic recovery in the United States. Under present national policies, a deep crash, worsening, is inevitable. However, that can be cured.

The situation is somewhat analogous, though not precisely, to what we faced under Franklin Roosevelt, coming in as President after his election in 1932. The policies of Coolidge, of Hoover, and so forth, during the 1920s, gave us a Great Depression. That was not the only cause for it, but it was the leading cause. There were bad policies. Roosevelt, speaking to the question of the "forgotten man," in 1932, was elected as President; and in 1933, took measures which save this nation, and not only got us out of a deep depression — there was a 50% cut in the average income of the people of the United States, that had occurred at that time — saved the nation. We went through a horrible war. We emerged as virtually the only power on this planet, the greatest producer on this planet, and virtually the only real economy on this planet at that time. He led us to success.

During the postwar period, we did some unfortunate things, but much of the Roosevelt legacy continued. We continued to grow, in prosperity, relatively speaking, for the next period, up until about 1964. Until about the time that the Vietnam War started. Since that time, we have been transformed from a producer society, the leading producer society of the world per capita, to a consumer society, living by exporting our jobs, to cheap labor overseas, in agriculture and industry. We have robbed people overseas, to make them work cheaply for us, as in the case of neighboring Mexico. We are now bankrupt.

If you look at the record, in point of fact, even by official statistics, which are largely fraudulent, you look at the lower 80% of family income brackets, there has been a catastrophic collapse of the lower 80 percent of family income brackets. The lower 80 percent of the people of the United States, receive less than the upper 20%, and there has been a recent catastrophe. Anyway, that's part of the picture.

The international financial system is hopelessly bankrupt. Most of the leading banks of the world, especially Europe, and the United States, are bankrupt. The Federal Reserve system is bankrupt. So, therefore, we are in a real catastrophe.

Now, we could fix that, not by simply copying what Franklin Roosevelt did in the last depression, but by learning the lessons from what he did do, and what he accomplished.

At present, what this means, is this, for the states. We're talking here in Arkansas about a state. It's a state which is on the relatively lower end of the 50, in conditions of life and opportunity. But in 46, at least, of the 50 Federal states of the United States, the state governments — and that means also the local governments, the county and local governments — face an impossible situation. That is, there is no way possible, for these state governments, including their county and local components, to continue to balance their budgets, and maintain a decent life. It doesn't exist.

This is similar to what Roosevelt faced in 1933, when he was inaugurated: bankrupt banks, bank holiday measures, starvation beyond belief, then, around the country, despair. He saved the country, because he was committed to the principle upon which this country was founded, the principle of the general welfare. That we are a sovereign nation. The legitimacy of government depends upon meeting the needs of the general welfare of the entire population, and also our posterity. Teachers, education, for example.

Therefore he took measures, which we should study now, to understand what we should do, and what we can convince people to do, on the basis of experience, to take as emergency measures now, to save this nation, as Roosevelt saved the nation, and made us a great power again, during his term in office.

Now, therefore, the first problem is, the states have very limited power to deal with this. The income of the states, the total amount of money floating around into the states, is not adequate to maintain the present combined private and public institutions. So switching money around, is not going to solve the problem. The states are bankrupt. What we need is growth. But the states cannot provide growth by themselves. Under our Federal Constitution, the states or any other institution in a state, can not obligate the U.S. Federal government, or the United States as an entity, to future debt. The power to create Federal indebtedness, national indebtedness, lies with the Federal government, with the power of the Treasury, with the consent of Congress, to print currency, or to promise to print currency, or to issue bonds against future currency issue. Therefore the states are now going to depend upon the mechanisms of the Federal government to create credit.

Now, what are the remedies the states in particular, have available to them, potentially, to deal with the problems of the states, and the communities within them?

Large-scale investment, in basic economic infrastructure, in order to increase the levels of employment, and income to the point that the states and the communities, can now balance their budgets. In other words, you have to bring the taxable revenue of the state up to the level at which the state can balance its budget. Otherwise, all the clamor about improvements, will not work.

Now many of the states are aware of this problem, as I describe it. Some governors don't agree, but every state agrees they have a problem. At least 46 of them do. California has a hopeless situation, for example; the largest and wealthiest state has a hopeless situation. There's no way they can solve their problems, within state facilities. Within the reign of the income of the state, there's nothing they can do to solve the problem. They try to increase taxes? It will have a regressive effect upon the economy. If they cut state budgets, it will have a regressive effect on the economy. So budget-balancing, and similar tricks, will not work by themselves. We need an additional source of income. We need a stimulant. And the stimulant is largely to increase the amount of employment of our people. We have many unemployed people, and mis-employed people. And properly employed, through government, — that is, with state governments, and sometimes the Federal government, but with the backing of the Federal government's action on credit — states can solve their problems.

The categories are what we call basic economic infrastructure. Power. The nation has a crisis, and a shortage, of power generation and distribution. The states have a problem in water management. The states have a problem in transportation. The United States has a crucial problem in transportation. If Amtrak goes, and it's about to go, we no longer have a national rail system. No semblance of it. The airlines are collapsing. The pressure on United Airlines, is to produce cheap competitive flights, to put the other airlines that are not in bankruptcy, into bankruptcy. We're about to lose the air-traffic system. Right?

We have problems in other categories. We have problems in education. We have a disaster in national education, as you were discussing some aspects of today. But what you were discussing was really only an aspect of a national problem. We have a crisis in education. We are teaching people to rehearse examinations, through multiple-choice questionnaires scored by computer. (Audience— yes, yes) We are not teaching the student, we are scoring the school system and the state, competitively, on the basis of this monkey business, of monkey-see, monkey-do. We are not producing enough teachers who are qualified. We are not reaching the mind of the student, with a process of reliving the process of discovery. We're training children like monkeys. And no wonder they're frustrated.

We have a crisis in family conditions. Commuting conditions. The standard family no longer exists in many parts of this country. We have latchkey children. We have, as a result of the changes in culture under the Baby Boomer generation, you have children who were raised with, I don't know how many mothers, and how many fathers, and they don't know which one is real. And siblings, the same things. You have broken communities, and broken patchwork families. And the young people who are coming into secondary school and universities today, are victims, largely of the patchwork family system which was developed in the past 40 years.

We have problems in health care. We did have, in the postwar period, immediately, legislation called the Hill-Burton legislation. Hill-Burton legislation was in part a reflection of our experience in World War II. We had to build a military, medical system, to support 16 or 17 million people, largely overseas, under wartime conditions: whether in combat conditions, or in reserve condtions, or in so-called rear-echelon conditions. We applied that lesson, of that experience and early experience, to the idea of medical care. And you had, in the postwar period, this Hill-Burton legislation, which prescribed that the Federal policy should be, we should objectives so that the people in each county in the United States, or each county in a state, would have a certain level of assured care potentiality, in terms of types of beds, types of care, available. So that a woman giving childbirth, a troubled childbirth, would not have to drive a hundred miles over country roads, to try to get to a hospital that's not there — which you have in states and areas like Arkansas.

We built a good system, which was based on the cooperation of Federal, state, municipal, and also voluntary and private facilities, largely hospital, or similar types of facilities. It was a good system. In 1973, Nixon destroyed it, with the HMO legislation. We are now systematically murdering people with so-called health-care reform. This is simply murder, and it's selective. It targets the poor, it targets the aged, and so forth and so on.

So we have, in these areas, in the areas of infrastructure — we need high-speed public transportation. We need it on an interstate basis. We need it on a statewide basis. We need it on local basis.

We need water management. Parts of the country are desperate. California, the Southwest, is in desperate condition for lack of water management. The entire area of the so-called American Desert, it's a dry area, we could fix it. We have never fixed the northern end of the Mississippi River, and Missouri. We could fix it.

These things are necesary. We have problems of potable water, usable water, in areas.

If we do these things, and if we provide public credit, reorganize the banking system, provide public credit to encourage the rebuilding of industry, based on the stimulus of the economy based on investment in the public sector, we can get our budgets back in order. We can rebuild this economy.

The problem right now is this: The United States is baffled in Washington by a couple of problems. Number One, we have a lunatic — and let me speak frankly — (Laughter) You know, I'm 80 years of age, but I'm a frisky 80 years of age, who intends to become the next President. I have an inclination to speak frankly, and you'll forgive me if I do. But these idiots in Washington, influenced by a bunch of criminals, want to have a war. They want to have a totally unnecessary war in Iraq. We don't have any situation in any part of the world that the United States, if I were President, couldn't handle without war. And I travel in a good number of parts of the world, and I know people. (applause) It doesn't exist. We're a powerful nation, and when we do the right thing, other nations will cooperate with us, and there are ways to solve these problems. There is no power on this Earth that represents a credible threat to the United States. None! And there's no problem we can't solve in a reasonable way, with the support and cooperation of other nations, which we can get. If I'm President of the United States, and I say, "I want to have a meeting among nations, on the question of international financial reform, because of this bankrupt system," they will come. And they will come quickly. And there will be a reasonable discussion. Because of the history of the United States, and the power we represent, when the President of the United States asks other nations to come, even if they don't like us, they'll come, and they will discuss. And if we can reach reaasonable agreements, those agreements will be effective. There's no problem we can't solve.

So, we're not concerned — we're concerned and tied up with this idea, of we're going to kill somebody, in a form of warfare which is against our Constitution, and against international law. You don't go to war because you don't like somebody. (laughter) You find a different way to solve the problem. And most of the world agrees with that. Most of the people of the United States agree with that, despite all the funny stuff with the polls, and the mass media.

At the same time, we're paying no attention, in Washington, to the fact that we have the biggest financial crisis in modern history. This Federal government is probably right now running on about a $1 trillion a year Federal deficit. And the President, with his policies, is about to increase that deficit, for no good reason.

So, what's happened in Washington is all tied up on this issue, and the world as well, on the issue of war, or no war. Will President Bush decide, purely on an impulse, to declare war on some morning, possibly in March? We've got about 130,000 or more troops in the Middle East, ready to go, and all he has to do, under the present circumstances, is say "go," and we're in a war. And we don't know when we return from it, or what the effects will be.

As a result of that, many of the good people in Washington, and some of them are good, some of them I like — I just don't think they have enough guts, but they're good people, including, I think, Bill Clinton, who's sort of around Washington — nice guy; doesn't do some of the things he should have done, but I like him. But these fellows are not paying attention to the issue of the economy, because we're all tied up with the question of war. Are we going to war; are we not going to war? The press inundates us, the mass media: war or no war? No news about the economy. And while the economy is collapsing, nobody in Washington is actually doing anything about the economy.

You're talking about the economy here, tonight, various aspects of the economy, the problems that arise from it. You're dealing in a state which has limitations: It's one of the poorest states in the Union per capita. It's asked to strain its resources to meet the effects on the state, which is already poor, of a national economic crisis, international financial crisis. You're looking for resources to meet the problem, when the resources don't exist. The potential resources in the state do exist, if you had the credit for long-term, 20-year, 25-year programs in infrastructure, to increase current employment: you could balance your budgets. But without that assistance from the Federal government, in terms of credit creation on long-term programs, you can't solve the problem. And it's not to your shame, because 46, or more states of the United States are in the same condition. And you belong to a state, the southern part of the state, which, after all these effects of the collapse of the lower 80 percent of family household income, you have in this part of the world, some of the poorest. And therefore the resources per capita, and per square kilometer, are less.

We can solve the problem. But the problem is, the nation is not alert to that. The governors are, the state governments are alert to this. But the Federal government is not.

Now, my concern, and I'm raising quite a fuss about it, is to get the Federal government on the issue of economic recovery.

Now, this means one thing that they don't like. This means admitting that we're in a depression; admitting that our banks are bankrupt, and they are. We can deal with that, but the Federal government must admit the problem, and act upon it. We must admit that what we've been doing for the past 40 years, in terms of economic policy, especially since 1971, has been insane. We've been tearing ourselves down, but we're a rich and powerful country. Not only do we have resources which we've built up in previous times, but we had imperial power. We could go to other countries, we could dictate to people what their currency's value would be, relatively — we did it! We could dictate to them: You support us, or else! We did it. We squeezed the world, to keep this country in power, economically.

Now, we've come to the end of it. There's nothing left to squeeze. The system is collapsing. Japan is collapsing. The Japan economic system, banking system, is hopelessly bankrupt, and they've been supporting us in recent years. South and Central America almost don't exist any more, when they were once powerful nations. We looted them! Africa is a case of deliberate genocide, by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel. They're the principal source, and this is genocide. This is not mass death; this is deliberate selective mass murder. As the case of AIDS in Botswana typifies the problem. The case of the [non-]availability of generic drugs, to areas of Africa which desperately need them to fight this disease. Asia's in somewhat better condition, although there are problems there. The Middle East is, of course, a warfare pit. Europe is in trouble.

So, we have this crisis.

Therefore, if we are willing, we can get the Federal government to pay attention to business, to pay attention to the economy; if we use the lessons of Roosevelt's response to the Depression, not as direct copies, but to learn to do what he did; maybe do it better our way, but do it. If we enter into cooperation with other nations, cooperation we can get, we can bring this financial-monetary crisis under control. We can start a process of genuine growth. If we use the U.S. Constitution, the way it was intended, if the Federal government launches large-scale projects, and enters into agreements with the states, on which the states' power of creating public utilities, large-scale public improvement programs in place, we can raise the level of employment, by plan, up to levels which, on a budgetary basis, will guarantee a stable budget, of stable [ ].

So, that's what we have to do. So, therefore, I say, what I give you is a message, a blunt message; it's truthful. I've been the most successful forecaster in the world for the past 35 years. Never made a mistake. No one else has done that. So I say, on that authority, I can assure that the situation is as bad as I tell you, and the options are as good as I promise.

But, what we have to do, and I'm going to be doing this all over the country, as well as around the world, is, we have to get people in the states, to awaken themselves to what the problem in Washington is. We've got to pull ourselves together, and force the Federal government to respond to the fact that we don't need this foolish war, and to respond to the fact that we have a depression, and if we use the lessons of the past, we should know how to fix it, and let's fix it.

Thank you. (applause)

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