From the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech exists in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers at the John F. Kennedy Library.
There is no industry which has suffered more from government neglect in the last eight years than the coal industry. And there is no industry which holds greater promise for the future. Eight years of short-sighted policies - of drift and indecision in Washington - have seen the gradual deterioration of a great industry which has contributed much to America's strength in the past - and which can and will contribute much more in the future - if it is only given the chance.
For the coal industry is not a defeated industry. Nor is it looking for charity or handouts. It only seeks an equal opportunity in our free enterprise system - a chance to reach its full potential of growth and strength - and to put an end to the discrimination and indifference which is destroying it. For the coal industry today is the most modern and progressive industry in the world - it contributes two billion dollars a year to America's economy - and it's coal reserves provide an enormous source of fuel for America's future.
No, the coal industry does not want charity - and it does not need charity. It wants and deserves equal treatment - for with such treatment coal will prosper - men will go back to work in the mines - dignity and decent living will be restored to thousands - and America itself will grow stronger.
But to achieve this we need more than words - we need more than promises - and more than theories. For, as Franklin Roosevelt said of the depression, "we are faced with a condition, not a theory." And we must do what Roosevelt himself did in those earlier times of darkness - we must have another "New Deal" - a "New Deal" for West Virginia. For Roosevelt accomplished more in the first one-hundred days of his administration than has been accomplished in eight full years under the Eisenhower-Nixon Administration. West Virginia - and the country - badly needs another such period of immediate, forceful, creative action - and under the next, Democratic, Administration we are going to get it.
First, we must immediately establish a National Fuels Policy - a policy which will take the vast, intricate, and often contradictory network of laws and regulations which govern the nation's fuel industry and weld them into a sound and logical whole - into a policy which does not discriminate against coal - which does not treat coal unfairly in the matters of freight rates, taxes or regulation - but which gives it that equal chance to compete which is the precondition to coal prosperity.
Secondly, we must embark on a broad program of coal research and development to establish new uses for coal - develop new markets - expand existing uses - and reduce the cost of coal production and distribution. Such a program was passed by Congress and vetoed by the President. And with it were vetoed the hopes of the coal industry - and the opportunity to summon the resources of modern science and technology to the aid of coal. But this was the last such veto. For our next Administration will not only support - it will demand - a new expanded program of research of coal's future.
Third, we must engage in a great dramatic effort to stimulate a program that holds greater promise for the future of the coal industry than any other plan or policy yet developed - and that is the building of new steam plants. For coal does not need to leave here only by rail - it can go "by wire" as well. "Coal by wire" - great steam plants - here in West Virginia, close to your rich coal deposits - can exhaust untold tons of coal every day in manufacturing power to heat the homes and run the appliances of the many vast population areas within easy reach of your state. The resources are there - the men are there - the courage and the determination are there. All that is needed is a little help and a little understanding from Washington.
Fourth, we must encourage - through a program of federal loans and assistance, on a sound economic basis - the long-term industrial development which is the key to West Virginia's future. New industry - here in West Virginia and in surrounding states - will provide the surest and most important market for today's coal production - and it will be a stimulus to increased coal production in the future. Surely a government which can afford to rebuild the economies of Western Europe can afford to help its own people.
This is a program for coal - a great, vital program to build coal's future, -- and restore coal to its traditional high place in the American economy. And we will carry out this program not as a dole - or as a favor to the mines or miners - but as a vital need for America's present - and as the surest guarantee of America's future.
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