Exercising The Cautious Optimism Clause - The Economy In 1964

(Sec. of Commerce Luther Hodges - 1964 was something of a fishing expedition) Howard K. Smith (ABC News): “If anyone drew up a list of the seven

Luther Hodges fishing_34abf.jpg

(Sec. of Commerce Luther Hodges - 1964 was something of a fishing expedition)

Howard K. Smith (ABC News): “If anyone drew up a list of the seven wonders of the modern world, the American economy would certainly be one of them. In the lives of men now at middle age its gross output of wealth has doubled, then doubled again and then doubled again. But one of the most impressive, or depressive aspects about it is, that while it has multiplied our wealth it has not distributed it well. A fifth of our people live in poverty and we have the highest unemployed rate of any modern Western country.”

Cautious optimism, whistling in the dark - 1964 was a year of contrasts. First, we were recovering from the assassination of President Kennedy and were putting our faith in Lyndon Johnson to carry on the JFK legacy. The social programs (the Civil Rights Bill, Medicare) were evolving, the War on Poverty was about to get rolling. But then so too was the Vietnam War with the infamous Gulf Of Tonkin incident in the not-so-distant future of August.

But on January 5, 1964 when this installment of ABC News Issues and Answers was aired, Commerce Secretary Luther Hodges and Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz voiced optimism that all would be well with the world in good time. Sadly, no. But at the moment, America needed some bolstering. It was heading into unknown territory and it wasn't sure what the future would bring.

It came soon enough.

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