The advent of technology can be considered on a fast paced during the 20th century. Innovations and new inventions in the field of science and technology, and engineering had significantly altered the way of life. Indeed, the pursuit of new technologies and discoveries goes beyond the limit and boundary of human conceptions and achievements. Frontier, defined as a limit or a boundary between two identified entities, signifies an important concept during the term of John F. Kennedy.
He used the term “New Frontier” as a symbolic word to signify new programs of his Administration categorized into four major concerns: to enhance the economy as well as the space exploration program, to offer international aid as well as national defense. Eventually, the slogan served as a banner for the Kennedy Administration with respect to foreign and domestic programs and legislations concentrated specifically on the following areas: wages, unemployment, housing, economy, crime, health care, equal rights intended for women, and defense.
In terms of wages, John F. Kennedy pushed the amendment on the Fair Labor Standards Act that significantly stretched the range of the FLSA on the sector of retail trading, and augmented the minimum wages for workers previously covered from $1. 00 to $1. 15 an hour in 1961; and to $1. 25 an hour in 1963. Also, establishments (retail and services) were allowed to accept working students with wages of no less than 15% of the minimum with proper certification coming from the Labor Department.
Enterprise coverage for the exemption on the amendment was set to those companies with sales below $1 Million and for individual businesses with sales below $250,000. The concern of unemployment is also a concern during the Kennedy administration. His legislative program, the Manpower Development and Training Act in 1962 approved a 3 years program of the government to retrain workers who were then displaced by new technologies. Training allowances were given to those unemployed, and engaged workers were also included in the program.
Around 200,000 workers (employed and unemployed) were recruited but the impact was hardly felt. Aside from the Manpower Development and Training Act another legislative program, the Area Redevelopment Act, was established to strategically invest on the private sector to stimulate the creation of new jobs (www. Webcast. rice. edu 2009). The total investment amounted to around $390 million with an approximated $4. 5 million per year (for four years) were allotted to rural and urban depressed areas for the vocational schooling programs.
The amendment on the National Defense Act in 1963 provided additional funding (around $700 million) for the vocational schooling programs in different states and localities of the Unites States. The concept on the housing program was intended to enhance the economy, provide low-cost housing for low and middle-income families, and to rejuvenate the cities. The Omnibus Housing Act in 1961 was proposed to fund such advocacy amounting to almost $3 billion with the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs supervising the program.
The urban restitution program aimed on providing mortgages in order to finance the rehabilitation of houses. The grant provided extra 100,000 units of community housing. Also, the program concentrated on providing development in the community, technical aid to local and state governments, and the preservation of the old urban “touch”. The legislative programs on the economy concentrated on tariffs. Reductions on tariffs on the basis of reciprocity were implemented on the common markets at the European community’s resulting to the United States’ participation on trade negotiations (multilateral), also known as the “Kennedy Round”.
Under the act, duties on certain commodities could be reduced to zero such as on agricultural and tropical products. The legislation in 1962 unambiguously eliminated the so- called “Peril Point” stipulation that had restricted the United States’ position in negotiations in the General Agreement on Trades and Tariffs (www. Webcast. rice. edu 2009). The elimination of the provision provided the administration with the necessary information with regards to the possible effects on the economy of tax concessions. The program on crime was intended to avert the youth from committing acts of delinquency.
The Youth Offenses Control and Juvenile Delinquency Act were put into law on Sept. 1961 to observe and implement such. With regards to health care, Kennedy submitted the legislation on the program for mental health concerns. His aspiration towards this emanated from the fact that his sister, Rosemary, was also mentally ill. Later on, Congress had approved the Community Mental Health Centers and Mental Retardation Facilities with the main responsibility of supervising all community mental health centers and corresponding programs.
Relevant impact was felt after the creation of such since there has been an increase in the number of mental health patients utilizing the facilities. Aside from this, the Medicare or medical health assistance for the aged was proposed although the Congress failed to ratify such. Aside from the areas of wages, economy, housing, unemployment, health care, and crime; the equal rights for women was also stressed. A commission was established in 1961 to investigate and document the conditions of women in the workplace, equality in the education, and under the rule of law.
Headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, the committee comprised of a 26-member team that included philanthropists, and legislators that were active on human rights of women. The final report of the committee, titled “The Peterson Report” or the “American Women”, summarized the widespread discrimination of women in the workplace such as on wages, labor hours, quality of legal representation and counseling. The recommendations of the commission included the improvement of the hiring procedures in women, maternity leave should be paid, and childcare should be made affordable.
Also, the Equal Pay Act was created to eliminate discrepancy on the minimum wages between women and men. The last among the legislations and programs under the banner of the “New Frontier” was the national defense. The administration gave emphasis on counteracting guerilla tactics, and acts of political inclined communist subversion emanating from the third world countries. Counterinsurgency forces were created such as: the First Commando group of the United States Air Force, and the Navy Seals by the U. S. Navy.
Faced with possible confrontations with the Soviets in the intensification of tension in the Berlin Wall in 1961 and of the Missile Crisis in Cuba in 1962, the United States military augmented in size. Kennedy was also responsible for the agreement known as the “Partial Test Ban Treaty” wherein the United Sates and the Soviet Union both agreed to stop testing nuclear weapons on the atmosphere and restricted it to underground. As part of the defense program, his administration was also responsible for the space exploration agenda wherein the first man on the moon was sent in 1970 (Smith 1987).
One of the most significant accomplishments of the Kennedy Administration was the space exploration program, which was eventually a race between the United States and the Soviet Union. The duration of the “race” was between 1957, when Sputnik was sent to outer space by the Soviet Union to 1969 with the apparent walking on the moon by John Glenn, Alan Shepard, and Gus Grissom of the United States. Both nations had utilized their corresponding technology with respect to military point of view to structure their space programs.
The Russians had developed their own space program in absolute concealment and secrecy, even the long term and specific objectives, not to mention their leader in the space program were never divulged, while the Americans remained unfasten and depended on public support except for the military aspects of their space programs. The key person on the Soviet side was Premier Nikita Khrushchev who took an ardent interest in the space exploration programs seeing the potential of the propaganda “space first”.
The United States was not as keen at the beginning on the space program with Dwight Eisenhower being hesitant on the expensiveness of the program. The U. S. took cautions on their space programs until John F. Kennedy presided over Eisenhower and made considerable turn-around on their space programs. He eventually pushed through the program when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first manned orbital journey, and with the context of the then Cold War. He proposed two joint ventures with the Soviet Union on space programs: one on 1961 and the other in 1963.
At that time the Soviet Union was way ahead of the United States. He committed to the U. S. to send the first humans on the moon during His talk on the Congress Joint Session in May 1961. In 1963, Premier Khrushchev had agreed upon the second joint venture and realized that the idea of “cost-sharing” would be beneficial to both countries, though during that period, the United States was forging ahead as a geostationary satellite was launched. He asked Congress for the approval of the $250 million funding for the Apollo project (jfklibrary. org 2009). But John F.
Kennedy was assassinated before the agreement on the joint venture and the approval of the fund were signed. His advocacy was clearly supported by Lyndon Johnson and followed by Richard Nixon, and after 9 years the Apollo landed on the moon. Aside from the legislative programs based on Kennedy’s vision of a “New Frontier”, he also had political interactions with the Soviet Union on the context of the Bay of Pigs in 1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and the nuclear test ban treaty in 1963. The first interaction of Kennedy with the Soviet Union was when around 1400 Cuban exiles invaded Cuba.
The invasion started on April 17, 1961 at the Bay of Pigs, with the exiles being previously supported by the United States. Premier Nikita Khrushchev wrote a letter to Kennedy arguing that the United States would assist the Cuban government from resisting the invasion. Although the invasion failed and the exiles were an advocate of the past U. S. president, Dwight Eisenhower, the Kennedy administration accepted the responsibility and supported the plan presented by Khrushchev but later refused to consign the requested American army.