[FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, MAR. 3, 1992]
(Extension of Remarks March 31, 1992)
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, [Page: E890]
HON, LES AUCOIN IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 1992
MR. AUCOIN. Mr. Speaker, a constituent of mine, Jerry Wilson of Hillsboro, OR, recently published a cogent and compelling essay in the New York Times. “America, Inc.” provides a blueprint that Members of Congress would do well to consider as we work on legislation to get the economy moving again.
Jerry Wilson has a keen sense of what this country needs. America doesn’t need more defense spending, more tanks or more high-tech weapons systems. What America needs is investment in infrastructure – in roads, in developing new sources of energy and in enhancing the environment. And most of all, this country needs to make a substantial investment in human capital.
I commend this essay to my colleagues. (Edited for brevity)
Our state is not answering the right questions. Does it really matter how we re-divide the profits of America by tinkering with the tax code when there are no profits to divide? And how does our fashioning laws that require us to imprison the highest percentage of any population in the world serve the country? Such topics agitate society without adding to its resources. Had I spent my time as president of Soloflex, Inc. trying to answer these kinds of questions there would be no Soloflex, Inc. As the president of my company the question I must ask, and answer, is, “What are we going to build?” And then get to it!If the real business of America is business, which it is, then shouldn’t we concentrate first on conducting good public business? We are the most successful business in the history of nations. We should pursue that grand tradition with all the vigor and genius our parents displayed when they built it.
Unfortunately, America was sidetracked from its business goal of using labor to improve our lives by creating new wealth. World War II diverted American labor away from capital building and into building war expenses. The war ended 47 years ago but war expense spending didn’t. It just keeps growing and growing. America’s military now consumes 40 percent of our total industrial output! That means four of every ten workers in factory America works for or in the night watchman’s department, almost doubling the cost of everything else we produce. How can we possibly compete with industrial nations that have a sane ratio of workers guarding their factory? Obviously, we can’t until we redirect that 40 percent of our labor resource back into building productive, wealth producing assets. To make that transition we need only identify what it is we need to build, those projects that make the best use of our labor, credit and material resources; those things that actually back up our paper money instead of inflate it. It used to be against the law to put our credit into expenses unless congress had declared a war. Changing the law to declare a tank as suddenly a capital item when it is actually an expense item does not make a tank capital. A rose by any other name is still a rose. Capital is defined in standard accounting practices as something that can be employed to save more than it cost to build. How, I ask, can a tank or a bomb be used to increase productivity?
Voters become confused when the word “public” is mentioned. Why wouldn’t they since our public servants do not present us with an annual report in acceptable standard accounting practices. Our public wealth comprises 89 percent of our total wealth. Only 11 percent of wealth in America is owned privately. Had we acted on the recommendation of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants and demanded standard accounting practices from our government we would not be in this mess. You would get an annual report every year showing your share of America, Inc., this joint stock, for-profit corporation. When was the last time you got a dividend? I can tell you when you got a set of phony books.
The Department of Commerce estimates the total net worth of America this year at $62 Trillion. Subtract the $6.82 Trillion in private wealth and the $4 Trillion national debt and your share of America, Inc. is worth around $200,000. You can tell those foreign devils when they come begging to go inherit their own fortune!
So, just where did this fortune of ours come from? We had nothing to start with, only labor, credit and material. Well, that’s all it takes. America, a corporation, has the same “Corporate Resolution to Borrow” as all privately owned corporations. We can gamble our equity by betting on our labor with new credit, also known as paper money. Of course, most of it isn’t paper at all, just an accounting notation but it works. If labor builds capital worth the amount of credit issued there should be no debt, only new wealth created by our labor and material. Abraham Lincoln said that labor is prior to capital, that capital would not exist if labor had not first existed and that labor deserves the first consideration. He’s just talking about jobs. Not make-work jobs, not jobs making expense items. He meant jobs building real capital; roads, bridges, ports, energy systems, water systems – those things we all employ to increase our productivity to raise our standard of living.
There is, in fact, no end to the capital projects we could be productively employed doing. Right now there is $1.5 Trillion in repairs to the existing infrastructure ready to bid out. Forty percent of our 550,000 bridges need repair. Twenty percent of them have been declared by the Corp of Engineers as obsolete and dangerous. Just bidding these identified repairs out to private companies would end unemployment overnight. Nothing is stopping us. Well, congress is but who are they but our servants. We only need direct them to get off their ass and do it. What else do we need? An interstate water system. High speed rail. Renewable energy systems. Environmental clean up. Reforestation. Well, it never ends, does it? We can always make our land more valuable, our cities more livable, our infrastructure more productive for commerce and industry. That presumes of course, that we will act in our own best interest, that we will mobilize our courage and exercise the powers that make us masters of our own fate. We need goals larger than ourselves to pull us back together and give us back our pride. And leave the world a better place than we found it.
JERRY L. WILSON, Shareholder, America, Inc.