The American people believe that the U.S. economy has "gone awry," according to New York Stock Exchange Chairman William M. Batten, who released a poll today showing 87 percent of the electorate say drastic measures are needed to bolster a badly sagging economy.
"The people know we are in a crisis that is broad-based and deep-seated and will not be solved by a quick-fix," said Batten, who along with business, labor and congressional leaders initiated a weekend assault on America's productivity lag with a Conference on U.S. Competitiveness at Harvard University.
In thesurvey of 1,005 Americans conducted by Garth Associates for the NYSE, 78 percent of the respondents said the president and Congress have failed to understand and control the economy, and 63 percent expressed dissatisfaction with President Carter's handling of it.
"They are indicting us all," said Batten. "There is a realizaton we didn't get into this situation with the advent of the Carter administration; I don't believe the results single out this administration for blame."
However, said Batten, "That consensus could make itself heard at the polls in November."
Blame for America's economic maladies is approtioned predominately in favor of government with 44 percent. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was blamed by 17 percent, consumers by 19 percent and business by only 10 percent.
"I knew that government, business and labor were unpopular but I didn't realize how unpopular we were," said Batten. "These are pretty substantial numbers."
Seventy-eight percent of those polled said corporations have been greedy and irresponsible, and more than two-thirds said big corporations have too much power. Yet 66 percent favor a candidate who would reduce government interference in business.
Nevertheless, those polled are divided equally on the question of supporting more incentives for business when one result is higher profits. And a slim majority opposes less government regulations if this would mean reducing protection for consumers.
A national plan to mobilize U.S. recources to make American business more competitive with the rest of the world was advocated by 83 percent of the respondents. Another 85 percent called American's position as an industrial power important, making U.S. competitiveness an "extremely potent political issue," said Batten.
The chairman of the New York Stock Exchange said the poll, commissioned in conjuction with the much-touted two-day conference here, indicates the next president will "face an American people more willing to accept legislation to foster economic growth" such as incentives for business.
"It's more do-able today than it ever was," he said, conceding surprise that the American people "know better than to expect a miracle -- they clearly said this is a pervasive problem with no instant solution."
The poll shows 58 percent of the electorate thinks it will take at least three years to turn the economy around: 23 percetn say it will take more than five years.
Said Batten: I agree with the American people."