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Virginia in the Jet Age

Virginia Association of Realtors

Sheraton Park Hotel
Washington D.C.
2:30 p.m., Thursday, October 17, 1968

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It is indeed a pleasure to join you as you assemble for the Association's 48th annual meeting.

Fortunately, you have invited me to appear near the beginning of this outstanding conference program, for you have scheduled so many distinguished speakers that I would be somewhat apprehensive that my brief remarks would suffer in contrast if I were to follow them.

I am particularly pleased, however, to have the opportunity to participate in your conference program. I believe so strongly that the manner in which our most responsible citizens, leaders such as you, respond to the challenges we face today will determine to such a considerable extent the future of our State and nation.

It is hardly necessary to remind such a well-informed group of the disorder, disruption and destruction which has scarred our nation and its citizens.

All of us have been witnessing catastrophic eruptions in our cities, violent disorder on our college and university campuses. Here in the nation's capitol, we all have been shocked at the necessity for troops with fixed bayonets to protect the capitol itself.

All of us, I am sure, were dismayed by the vicious provocation and ugly violence in Chicago. All too familiar have become the pictures in our newspapers, news magazines and other communications media showing the hostile faces of those who apparently feel the conditions and policies of our nation can be changed only through violence.

Surely the resolution of political questions through mob action, and even assassination, should be very strange indeed to our American way of life.

There is little question that we face a serious crisis in the unrest of so many of our fellow men.

The ferment particularly is evident among our young people. There is a generation gap, to be sure. It is perhaps even more serious than our young friends realize. It is the gap between the identification of our social, economic and political problems, and their resolution.

You are fully aware of the numerous and vexing problems we face as a nation, and the elusiveness of their solutions. You recognize the massively changing technology that has driven so many of our citizens from farms and rural areas into the sprawling cities and teeming ghettos.

You are aware, too, that the same technological changes have revolutionized industry and commerce, bringing major dislocations to our labor force.

With continued automation and our increasing productivity in agriculture, machine power continually is replacing muscle power. Unskilled and semi-skilled employment opportunities are being rapidly eliminated. Many of our citizens, as a result, simply are not adequately prepared to compete and contribute in a rapidly expanding and industrializing economy.

For the large majority of Americans, effective business enterprise and a rapidly advancing technology have produced a standard of living unparalleled anywhere. At the same time, millions of Americans are not sharing the spirit and substance of the American dream.

Speaking here in the nation's capital, among so many Virginians who know so intimately the political, social, and economic realities of communities throughout the Commonwealth, I would like to think with you about what might be called the Virginia ěstate of mind,î which can be so meaningful in these times of turmoil and confusion.

I believe we in Virginia are evolving a uniquely Virginia economic, social and political philosophy: a point of view combining the best of our conservative traditions with the best thinking of our more politically liberal friends.

The heart of such a philosophy, surely, is our concept of the importance and value of the individual, regardless of his station in life. Never can we forget the intrinsic value and dignity of the individual, and the necessity to help him find opportunity for satisfying and creative citizenship.

As a university president and in other positions of educational concern in Virginia, I have long devoted much of my time and effort to try to help generate a greater public understanding of the importance of providing more appropriate educational opportunities for much larger numbers of our young people, to prepared them for constructive citizenship and maximum contributions to our economy.

In November, we in Virginia will vote in referendum on a proposed 81 million dollar general obligation bond issue to finance some of our most pressing construction needs at the State's colleges, universities, and mental institutions.

The machinery of this bond issue is part of our ěpay-as-you-goî constitution, developed under the leadership of Governor Harry Byrd. The Constitution, as you know, required a sinking fund for repayment of those bonds.

This borrowing for investment in long-life capital facilities, and amortizing the debt over the useful life of the facilities is exactly the sound practice of successful business enterprise, as you well know.

It is exactly the procedure used by every family which must borrow for the purchase of a home. It this were not so, I'm sure your own real estate practices would be very different, indeed.

Certainly, the proposed bond issue is not deficit spending, spending beyond current income to meet current operating expenses, as some have so insistently maintained. I could, under no circumstances, support a program of deficit spending in Virginia. But I believe we have no alternative but to support the general obligation bond issue, under the clearly defined constitutional safeguards.

For it is imperative that the State bond issue be approved if Virginia's economic development -- in which we all have such a vital stake -- is not to be seriously retarded.

In the context of that Virginia ěstate of mindî I mentioned a moment ago, think for a few minutes about what is happening in the State. It is sustaining an extremely rapid population growth, and concurrently an extraordinary economic growth.

Virginia's 1965 population, you recall, was about 4.4 million, with a labor force of about 1.7 million. By 1970, according to conservative projections, its population will be almost 5 million, with a labor force of almost 2 million.

The statewide population estimate for 1980, only a dozen years hence, is about 5.8 million, with a labor force of almost 2.5 million. The continuing urbanization of Virginia suggests that about 75 per cent of the population then will be concentrated in Virginia's existing and emerging metropolitan areas.

The import of all this for you as realtors is clear. It is also clear to those concerned with education and with industrial and business development in a variety of ways.

Another topic, I am sure, is very much on all our minds in these troublesome times. There is endless discussion of the growing necessity to insure the safety of our citizens, the security of our homes and property, the stability of our communities.

Without public order, without public safety, without freedom to accomplish without fear our daily preoccupations and to follow the orderly pursuit or our lives, there can only be anarchy and despair. Surely among thinking, responsible citizens there can be no debate on the subject.

At the same time, all of us want elemental justice for all men and women. In the State where modern representative democracy was conceived and nurtured, we all surely are dedicated to the proposition that wrongs must be redressed.

Surely we in Virginia must be committed to the proposition that there will be the rule of law, that there will be order, and that orderly processes always must be available to bring justice to those who are ill-used, or who break the law.

I'm sure we in Virginia are rightfully proud of the progress achieved in attaining creative and constructive relationships between the races. That progress is continuing, and I believe the stagnant backwaters of racial ill will are being purified by a rising stream of mutual understanding and the brightening sunshine of a mutual acceptance of the importance of responsible citizenship and economic opportunity.

A few moments ago I mentioned the rapid growth of our State, which has sustained such extraordinary economic development in the decades since World War II. It is clear, however, that Virginia's economic growth must continue at an even more rapid pace if we are to meet the needs of our expanding population.

We are most fortunate in Virginia to have maintained harmonious relationships between labor and management, with minimum economic loss from the inevitable disruption and dislocation of industrial labor disputes.

I cannot help but feel that the advantageous economic climate in Virginia stems in large part from our public policy guaranteeing all Virginians the right to work without mandatory membership in a labor organization. Surely this is a public policy we must seek to preserve: the freedom of each citizen either to join or not to join a labor organization of his choice.

Clearly, too, a major strength of our Commonwealth is the realization among employee and employer alike that an honest day's work will benefit both, that our citizens take proper pride in any constructive vocation or profession.

We who have invested so much of our time and energy in assisting in the business and industrial development of our State have sought to nurture and sustain a wholesome economic and business climate. Industrial and economic programs throughout Virginia have not focused on low-wage, low paying industries, but on the most desirable type of economic growth: industrial and business development with high growth potential, to provide maximum benefit to the Commonwealth's future and the well-being of its citizens.

Clearly, we can sustain such a development program only with a broadened and strengthened educational system: our public schools, community colleges, our four-year colleges and universities. The availability of higher educational opportunities for a much larger proportion of our college-age population is essential. The necessity to continually update the skills and knowledge of our citizens, in the face of a rapidly changing technology, is all too obvious.

I am sure that the Virginia tradition of honest labor, undergirded by more widespread opportunity for appropriate preparation for a broadening variety of occupations and professions, will continue to be a prime factor in the Commonwealth's economic growth.

Think for a moment more about that Virginia ěstate of mind.î All of us are aware of Virginia's history, from the creative Colonial Period through the blood-soaked battlefields of the Civil War and its tragic aftermath. As a result of the realities of Virginia history -- Civil War, Reconstruction, and Depression -- Virginia has, until recent years, lagged behind its sister states in economic growth, in education, in the development of major cities and distribution centers, and in many other ways.

We all are aware of the remarkable strides the Commonwealth has made since the 1940's: new industries, schools, colleges, highways, shopping centers, new towns and cities, new communities, all have been mushrooming across Virginia. But if we are to realize fully the rich opportunity that is Virginia, we must continue and accelerate our progress.

No state has richer and more abundant assets. Our fertile fields and forests, our rich mineral resources, our ample water supplies, our great seaports and transportation systems, our state's extraordinary beauty, its unique heritage, and above all, its fine people, need take second place to any region.

I suggest that if we can nurture and sustain the uniquely Virginian approach that I have discussed here this afternoon, a philosophy capable of imaginative innovation and constructive change, as well as the conservation of the strengths of our heritage, our future will be bright indeed.

For as we move to overcome the encumbrances and difficulties of our past in a period of rapid economic and population growth, we can learn from the mistakes of others; we can profit from the experiences of other states as they have changed to function in an economy, technology and society which already have undergone such dramatic change.

We can plan for the continued orderly and intelligent development of our cities and urban areas: we can make them into what they are meant to be, centers of economic, social, educational, cultural and political opportunities.

We can preserve the vitality, beauty and opportunity of rural Virginia, developing a balanced economy of productive agriculture and industrial growth in order to provide greater opportunities for productive and pleasant lives for more of our citizens.

We can build better schools and public educational programs, reducing the sometimes glaring inequities between our best and our worst school systems. We can strengthen and expand our community college system, our colleges and universities, and vastly increase the proportion of our young people enrolled in college.

We can develop the top-quality highway system needed for expanded economic opportunities for all our citizens, as desirable industries are attracted to communities throughout Virginia.

And we can preserve in our personal and political lives the basic truths central to that Virginia "state of mind," the recognition of the importance of the individual, individual opportunity and individual freedom, recognizing that the best protection of individual freedom is to insure that the exercise of such freedom does not interfere with or disrupt the activities of others, thereby abriding their freedoms.

With such opportunities as Virginia has, with the determined efforts of community leaders such as you, there is no limit to what Virginia can achieve.

Again, it is a real pleasure to be with you.

Thank you.

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