Question-and-Answer Session With Students at Greenville Technical College, in Greenville, South Carolina

October 15, 1984

The President. Now, you've been informing me, and I understand that now -- I don't know whether I can do as well in informing you -- but they tell me that you have some questions.

Dr. Grastie. Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. President. The students decided to draw numbers, and Todd Ingle has the first question for you.

Q. Hello, Mr. President. My name is Todd Ingle, and I'm a student here at Greenville Technical College. And my question is: What part do you think computer-age design and computer-integrated manufacturing plays in industry today, and what part do you think it will play in the near future?

The President. Oh, I think it's all important. I think what we're seeing here is the same type of thing that earlier in our time made us the great industrial power we were. We gave our workers the advantage of tools, and with their ability and the tools, we became the great industrial power and outcompeted most of the world.

Well, the world has moved on. And I think it's this -- just what we've seen here -- that, well, I will say again, as in my remarks out there: You give Americans the tools they need and the opportunity of this kind, and they'll outcompete anyone in the world. And I think we're going to see that.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

Q. Mr. President, my name is Tim Donald, and I would like to know why Congress cut $36.7 million from the appropriations bill you submitted for the Veterans Administration for the fiscal year of 1985?

The President. Well, all I can tell you is that they see things one way, and we see them another. They have certain targets that they think it's all right to cut and reduce, and yet they will turn right around and add to the spending that we have not asked for, because we believe that it wasn't as -- or isn't as important. And this is about all that I can tell you.

Q. Thank you, sir.

Q. Mr. President, my name's John Sightler, and I was wondering what you thought the input of this high technology would be on the American industry on the world marketplace?

The President. Well, just what I've been seeing here, and what I've seen in some other plants -- not schools, but plants where some of this is actually -- or things of this kind are in operation -- is, it's going to put us back in competition. When I see something here doing what it's doing, and I'm told how many times faster that is, and more accurate than the previous operation under older tools, and not computerized tools, then that -- the per unit cost of the item -- is going to put us back there in the marketplace and, as I say, outcompeting the others. And I have been in a few plants recently to see examples of what this is.

One, recently, was a steel plant. They are building it; it isn't finished yet. The investment that they're risking is equal to about two-thirds of the total capital assets of the company. But they know that with this, timewise and costwise, they will be able to be competitive with that particular steel from any part of the world.

Q. Thank you.

Q. Hello, Mr. President. My name is Hobie Taylor. And I'd like to know how you view the future of high technology in technical institutes such as Greenville Tech?

The President. Well, I think that it is changing and reshaping our whole industrial pattern and our society, for that matter. I know right now that because of an educational institution like this, industries are being attracted to your area because your graduates will be there as an available skilled force. I've seen this also happen in one of the cities in Texas which has become quite a competitor with places like Silicon Valley in California and because of the educational institutions in the area that have guaranteed that skilled labor force.

Q. Thank you, sir.

Q. Hello again. I'm Perry Talley, Mr. President. I want to see how you see technical development in the South for the future?

The President. Well, in these recent years the Sunbelt has presented an attraction that has drawn people to where the Sunbelt is the fastest growing, population-wise, area in the United States. And this was certainly not true for a time. So then, when you add to the salubrious climate and the other advantages that have made people in the past decide they'd like to live -- [laughing] -- here, you add to that the opportunity for jobs and technical training and so forth down here, I think you're going to see further population shifts, and you're going to see maybe a change that -- with all due respect to some of the other Southern attributes, King Cotton, and so forth -- I think you might find yourself with another attraction that changes the whole nature of your work, your opportunities, and your industry here.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

Dr. Grastie. Mr. President, we have time for one more question. That will be from Mike Furillo.

Q. Mr. President, I work for Amco Lycoming Greer Division. And my question to you is, due to religious convictions and my responsibility to provide the best education possible, I've placed my children in a private Christian elementary school, and their tuition amounts to about 15 percent of my gross yearly income. And I'd like to know, will there be any legislation in the future that would give me a tax break on this tuition without it coming in the form of what the Federal Government would consider a subsidy, thereby giving the Government the right to regulate the school rules and school protocol?

The President. Well, you're looking at a representative of an administration that doesn't want the Federal Government being a senior partner. When, a little while ago in the briefing, we were talking about partnerships and participation, I almost wanted to add and say, ``Yes, that's fine, we're very proud to be able to help in something of this kind; we don't want to be a senior partner.'' Now, that wasn't always true. There are other people who think government should be the senior partner.

But I have to say, with regard to what you were talking about and the tuition problem, I think the answer to that is very simple and it's very fair. We've tried to get it, and we've been unable to get it through the Congress, and that is that parents -- education is compulsory in our country -- and parents are entitled to have a choice of whether they want to utilize the public school system or do as you're doing and use an independent school system for their education.

But you have to pay your full share in taxes for the support of public education without you using or benefiting from that education at all. And then, in addition, you, for wanting to put them in another kind of school, you're penalized in having to pay the double expense.

I think that we should have a program of tuition tax credits in which fairness is reinstituted for parents who choose not to utilize the pubic schools. It isn't going to hurt the public schools any. It is going to aid the independent schools because they are now more competitive. And what's wrong with education being competitive? What's wrong with having school systems in which they have to shape up and turn out educated graduates or they're not going to get the support? So, we're going to continue fighting for tuition tax credits for the people like yourself.

Q. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

The President. All right.

Note: The question-and-answer session began at 5:30 p.m. at the Advanced Machine Tool Resource Center, where the President had earlier received a briefing and a tour of the building.

Dr. Kay Grastie is vice president for education at the college.