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Rickover vs. nuclear arms and corporate power

The lesson of history is: When a war starts, every nation will ultimately use whatever weapon has been available. That is the lesson learned time and again. Therefore, we must expect, if another war - a serious war - breaks out, we will use nuclear energy in some form.

I think from a long-range standpoint - I'm talking about humanity - the most important thing we could do is start in having an international meeting where we first outlaw nuclear weapons to start with, then we outlaw nuclear reactors, too.

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I remember the 1921 disarmament conference. That's the one Charles Evans went to. The United States called that conference and it came to very significant results. There was an arms race going on. England and France and Italy were building a lot of ships and we were building a lot and it was decided and it worked and resulted in the limitation of arms.

I think it would be the finest thing in the world for the President of the United States to initiate immediately another disarmament conference where we at least stop that. It can be done. They did it then. They did it for a period of 15 years. It expired in 1935, and then by that time Hitler had come to power in Germany and there was no choice of continuing it. Had it not been for him, probably the disarmament would have gone on and decreased the amount of armaments even more.

But I think this is a very propitious time, when the military expenses are eating up so much money and it's completely unproductive, and using so much of the people's taxes. Put me in charge of it, and I'll get you some results.

I think we are spending too much. I think we should be more selective in our spending. There are certain areas where it's obvious the danger is going to come if it does come. I think we should concentrate on that. But when anyone has a large establishment, when it's in business, it's self-limiting because you stop making profit, but in government there's no such limitation, and there is no good scrutiny going on.

For example, take the number of nuclear submarines. I'll hit right close to home. I see no reason why we have to have just as many as the Russians do. At a certain point you get where it's sufficient. What's the difference whether we have 100 nuclear submarines or 200? I don't see what difference it makes. You can sink everything on the oceans several times over with the number we have and so can they. That's the point I'm making.

There's got to be some judgment used and these are very expensive things. They take up a lot of time and money and taxpayers' money too.

A preoccupation with the so-called bottom line of profit and loss statement, coupled with a lust for expansion, is creating an environment in which few businessmen honor traditional values; where responsibility is increasingly disassociated from the exercise of power; where skill in financial manipulation is valued more than actual knowledge and experience in the business; where attention and effort is directed mostly to short-term considerations, regardless of longer-range consequences.

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Political and economic power is increasingly being concentrated among a few large corporations and their officers - power they can apply against society, government, and individuals. Through their control of vast resources, these large corporations have become, in effect, another branch of government. They often exercise the power of government, but without the checks and balances inherent in our democratic system.

With their ability to dispense money, officials of large corporations may often exercise greater power to influence society than elected or appointed government officials - but without assuming any of the responsibilities and without being subject to public scrutiny.

Woodrow Wilson warned that economic concentration could ''give to a few men a control over the economic life of the country which they might abuse to the undoing of millions of men.'' His stated purpose was: ''to square every process of our national life again with the standards we so proudly set up at the beginning and have always carried in our hearts.'' His comments are apropos today.

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