SOMETIMES David Stockman remindsme of the cold, humorless revolutionary, Strelnikov (Julie Christie's husband) in "Dr. Zhivago." He is not that bad, of course, but there is considerable similarity between the zealots of the right and the left. Strelnikov can't think of his wife and child. Stockman can't think of the poor. Did you read what he said about legal services, that the government has no obligation to provide such services to the poor? How can anyone look at the imbalance of the American legal system in favor of the rich and not realize that the poor are going to be screwed unless they, too, have legal help? In the long term, of course, the society should be radically delegalized so that all of us would have much less need of lawyers. But for the short term, legal services for the poor are an essential ingredient of a just society.
Two other members of the Reagan administration offer further evidence of the nature of its commitment to the truly needy. Lyn Nofziger, the White House political director, and Helene von Damm, the president's personal secretary, are slumlords. They each own three dingy, run-down houses in Baltimore. Each has been cited for housing code violations. Nofziger, displaying the kind of human sensitivity that has long been characteristic of the Republican right, says "If I didn't own them, somebody else would."
During a speech not long ago in my hometown, Charleston, W. Va., I praised the Democratic Party for the way it differs from the Nofzigers and von Damms -- for its traditional advocacy of programs designed to help the less fortunate. After the speech, a woman asked me, "Who says my husband and I should have to give money we've worked hard for to anyone else? Who says? I just want to know who tells me I have to do that." "Madam," a friend of mine interjected, "it is your Lord Jesus Christ who tells you."
In a state that is 99 percent Christian, this was not only an effective squelch, but it obviously made the woman stop and think. It made me stop and think, too. Why do Democrats leave religion to the Republican Moral Majority? The traditional ideals of the Democratic Party have been far more in accord with the generous spirit of the Jewish and Christain faiths. Religion is the most powerful force in the lives of most Americans. Next comes patriotism -- their love of country. The intellectual elite of the Democratic Party, by scorning both religion and patriotism, has cut the party off from its roots in the emotional life of the people.
What kind of defense do we get for the billions we spend on Nato? If Norway is any indication, we should return to depending on the Atlantic Ocean. It seems that 100,000 of Norway's infantry weapons -- more than one-fourt of the total -- are spread aroundin barns and other unsecured buildings scattered about Norway. Norway's army consists largely of reservists who are to report to duty whenever the Reds cross the border. So that they can arm themselves readily, guns are stashed all over the country. The dumps are identified by a simple visual code known to very Norwegian male over 18. The result is that terrorists and others have been helping themselves to the arms, which include pistols, automatic rifles, light machine guns, mortars, antitank guns, grenades, gelignite and armor-penetrating missiles.
Do you recall that a few years ago Exxon was reported to have developed an electronic control system for motors that would reduce their energy consumption by up to 50 percent? it was predicted the device would save the United States a million barrels of oil a day. Having reflected on the significance of these facts, guess what Exxon has found: The device just won't work, the oil company executives mournfully tell us.
This reminds me of the time in 1950 when the unknown jockey of a horse named Middleground was told that if under his ride the horse won the Wood Memorial and thus demonstrated that it had a real chance of winning the Kentucky Derby a few weeks later, a more experienced and better-known jockey would be engaged to ride the horse in the Derby. If, however, the horse lost the Wood, the young jockey would get to ride in his first Derby. I did not bet on Middleground in the Wood. And I hope you didn't bet that Exxon would develop a device to cut oil consumption in half.
A friend with access to the governement's demographic statistics tells me they contain good news for the political leaders of the 1980s. Problems that had appeared insoluble in the '60s and '70s, partly because of the nature of the population, may get easier in the '80s because of demographic change.
When the huge baby boom following World War II came of age in the '60s and '70s, the large number of new entrants into the labor force helped bring historically high unemployment rates. As we all know, the crime rate skyrocketed, savings declined and the price of housing soared. But in the mid-1980s these trends may begin to reverse. Then government policies may be perceivd as achieving their goals, and the politician in charge of the country will appear to deserve the credit.
The post-World War II baby boom was a demographic tidal wave that, at its peak, produced over 4 million babies a year. But births began to decline in the early 1960s, and today there are barely 3 million a year. Elementary schools had just finished their major expansions when the baby boom graduated. Now the new elementary schoolrooms stand empty and many schools are being closed.
The same population facts that closed schools in the '70s mean that unemployment should be less of a problem in the mid-1980s. Even thought the number of new jobs grew 2.2 percent per year during the 1970s, unemployment climbed still faster because of the baby boom entering the labor force. The unemployment rate was only 4.9 percent in 1970, but hit 8.5 percent by 1975, and has defied all attempts to reduce it to the pre-1970s rate.
With the baby boom now assimilated into the labor market, the unemployment rate should begin to drop. The most dramatic improvement should be for the young, those in their teens and twenties. Assuming that the number of new jobs continues to increase at the 2.2 percent rate and that the young maintain their present share of the jobs, by 1985 all of them will be employed.
Like the unemployment rate, the crime rate in the United States soared -- by 66 percent -- between 1968 and 1978. But here's something else to look forward to: it's likely this crime wave will become an eddy in the 1980s. In 1977, 70 percent of all people arrested were under 30; 34 percent of them were between 14 and 19. In the 1980s, the absolute number of people in this younger age group will fall dramatically.
So if you're running for office, your strategy is clear: Promise to reduce crime and unemployment and you're sure to be reelected. You might also promise that your program will increase savings available for productive investment. The young save less than the middle-aged. As the baby boom ages, the savings rate should increase, dampening inflation and encouraging business investment.
Even if you aren't planning to run for office, there are compelling practical reasons for studying these trends. If you, like most Washingtonians, assume that real estate prices will continue to rise forever, consider that, as the number of young people who want to buy their first home declines year by year beginning in the mid-1980s, the demand for housing is also likely to decline. Housing prices, which have been such a major factor in the inflation of the past 20 years, should moderate and the mortgage interest rates should finally come down.