I wish to assure every citizen that I enter the high office of Governor of our great State free of all prejudices, even against those who most bitterly, and sometimes unfairly, opposed my election. I respect honest differences of philosophy and viewpoint on public policies. Marked differences in partisan opinion, for the most part, arise out of differences in understanding our common problems and the methods necessary to meet them through government. These are but the natural and healthy attributes of a functioning democracy.
Every person in California, regardless of party, color, creed or station in life, must know that, not only am I without prejudice, but I regard it as my sacred duty, under the oath I have taken today, to protect every person's civil liberties, and equality before the law, with every power at my command. These are precious rights. The founders of our republic and the preservers of the Union made supreme sacrifices for these rights. They are the very cornerstone of our democracy.
As we witness destruction of democracy elsewhere in the world, accompanied by denial of civil liberties and inhuman persecutions, under the rule of despots and dictators, so extreme as to shock the moral sense of mankind, it seems appropriate that we Californians, on this occasion, should announce to the world that despotism shall not take root in our State; that the preservation of our American civil liberties and democratic institutions shall be the first duty and firm determination of our government.
America has built enormously productive facilities for manufacturing. Our scientists, engineers and technicians have literally recreated the world in which we live. It is now well known that we have both the capacity and the ability to produce abundantly for all. But these advances, wonderful as they are, have brought along their own new and extremely difficult problems. We are a long, long way from the goal of social justice. We have yet failed to solve the question of distribution that attends our newly developed productive skills and capacities. This failure has plunged us into hard times and depression - the longest and most persistent in modern times.
But with all of our seeming failure; with all our difficulties and economic mal-adjustments; despite the puzzling paradox of unemployment and poverty in the midst of potential plenty, every right-thinking citizen, native or foreign born, regards his American citizenship as his most precious possession. He knows that it is a part of the sovereign power of the people to guide their own destinies.
Confronted by economic and social crisis, are we going to move forward toward the destiny of true democracy, or slide backward toward the abyss of regimented dictatorship?
In the final analysis, this depends upon the intelligence with which the people exercise their franchise, upon the wisdom and integrity of their leadership; and upon the courage with which we face our problems.
Until all the electorate shall have the benefit of a free education to aid them in the expression of their citizenship, it may be expected that in the future, as in the past, a large proportion may be confused and guided away from their purpose to go forward for their collective welfare, by deliberately false or selfish propaganda, superficial considerations, or provincial circumstances. Such impediments may delay, but they must not be permitted to defeat the ultimate successful working of American democracy.
The people of California want employment, a decent standard of living, education, opportunities for youth, social security, old age retirement, protection against pauperism and starvation. Activities in private industry and individual enterprise must be guided by these social objectives, if our present economy is to survive.
Owners of capital and means of production and distribution must realize their responsibility to society - not to radically engage in human exploitation, but to conservatively engage in management for human advancement. They must be satisfied with stability and permanency of investments for strictly conservative and safe returns. Our policies in the field of industrial relations will be to aid in establishing this sound basis for industrial activity.
In the field of private industry, the right of organized labor to honest collective bargaining must be protected; minimum wages must be established and vigorously enforced to maintain a decent American standard of living; vocational training must be extended, and the doors of employment and of opportunity for advancement, through useful and meritorious service, must be opened to the eager, splendid youth of our State. Youth's social-minded ideals, developed while in training for lifetime service, must not be shattered upon their entrance to adult life by a selfish, cold unwelcome world.
California's elderly citizens have taken the lead in bringing the general public to the realization of the plight of those who, having served their best years in American industry, must be left to spend their declining days in poverty and misery, unless social security programs provide for their retirement in health and comfort.
Such programs have been started, with provisions for partial aid to the support of those in need who have reached the age of sixty-five years. California has more than matched the small amount ($15.00 per month) provided for such eligibles by the Federal Government to make a total of thirty-five dollars per month. This amount, however inadequate, is more liberal than that paid by any other State. A total of thirty-two and one-half million dollars per annum is now required of the State and the counties to meet this pension; yet the amount of the pension is too low and the age limit too high. For our State to meet the amount required to provide this inadequate pension for those of its citizens who find themselves in need of pensions at the age of sixty years would require approximately forty-eight and a quarter million dollars per annum.
Old age pensions must be furnished by those who are producing and by the machinery of production.
Public support of the old or the young can only be furnished by taxation in one form or another.
When other states fail to provide aid for their aged, equal to ours, it may naturally be expected that their citizens approaching the eligible age will seek residence here. This places a disproportionate share of the tax for this worthy social purpose upon our State. For the purpose of uniformity, it is necessary that old age pensions, in their entirety, be financed by the Federal Government. We shall continue to urge an adequate Federal old age security program.
Meantime we shall favor State aid for pensions to the aged to the limit that State finances will permit. That limit, however, because of the tax necessary for present unemployment relief, may for a time at least, be very nearly reached. But as our tax burden is linked with unemployment, so is it linked with the need for old age pensions. More liberal old-age pensions may be anticipated when the unemployed are placed at productive work for their own support and the heavy tax burden for unemployment relief is thus reduced.