The United States is easily rich enough to win the "War on Poverty," one of the chief architects of the administration program said yesterday.
"We are rolling in money. We are so rich we don't know how rich we are," Daniel Patrick Moynihan, assistant secretary of labor told the opening session of the ninth anual Urban Design Conference in Sanders Theatre.
But, cautioned Moynihan, "we are going to have to acknowledge the legitimacy and social necessity of equality" as a national goal. Unlike many European countries, which have done this and quietly and successfully have eliminated poverty, the United States has tended to let its valuation of liberty overshadow that of equality.
Moynihan cautioned architects and city planners to avoid designing and building the sort of "lifeless city" he encountered in Brasilia, where "you feel that you are one of the plastic people that designers put on a model."
Adjoining Brasilia is an unplanned community called the "free city," where many construction workers live. "Nothing could be more fantastic than to move through Brasilia--a practically lifeless city--and then move over to the free city," he declared. "It roars, it sings, it makes love, it dies, and it is reborn."
Maynihan also said that the problem of automation has been overexaggerated. Automation is eliminating jobs at a slowly increasing rate, but the change is merely part of a general trend of continually rising labor productivity, he said.
The really important revolution in economics, Moynihan said, is that "we have finally learned how to make an industrial economy work." He cited the past 50 months--the "longest, strongest economic expansion in U.S. history"--as proof that the United States has ample resources to win the War on Poverty.