Frederick Dent | Citizens Against Government Waste

Frederick Dent

CAGW President's Club Member Calls for a Renewed America


When contemplating the outlook for America’s future, CAGW President’s Club member Frederick Dent echoes his experience as part of the World War II generation in his words:  “America has always solved its own problems and come out much stronger.  Life is a test, and we’re supposed to struggle, sink or swim.  When you look across this great land, folks willing to enlist in the military, serve their fellow men, one realizes the great strength we have as a nation.  However, at the moment this strength is not reflected in our government.” 

Frederick was born on August 17, 1922, in Cape May, New Jersey in the midst of the “Roaring Twenties.”  Excelling scholastically, he entered Yale in 1940 and became a member of the Navy ROTC.  His college life was curtailed when the class of ’44 was “called out” in 1943 to serve their country in World War II.  An old salt to be sure, Frederick tells many a tale of fighting the Japanese in the Pacific aboard the USS PCE-873.  In 1944, on a 10-day shore leave, he married his late wife, Mildred.  Today, Frederick’s family includes his and Mildred’s five children, 14 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Following the war, Frederick began a career in the textile industry.  In 1969, he once again heeded our nation’s call when former U.S. Secretary of Defense Thomas S. Gates asked Frederick to become one of the 15 members of the Gates Commission, formed by President Richard Nixon to examine the feasibility of ending the military draft and forming an all-volunteer army.  The commission studied the issue for one year and issued a report in February, 1970 concluding that an all-volunteer force would not adversely impact military readiness. 

Frederick applauds President Nixon’s political courage in both accepting and implementing the commission’s recommendations over objections from some within the Department of Defense and Congress.  The proposals adopted included a lottery for the draft, which eased much of the social unrest of the Vietnam era.  Military pay also rose to attract more volunteers, and the U.S. Army began television advertising.  Conscription in the U.S. officially ended in June, 1973.  Today, Frederick contends the reforms strengthened America’s armed forces and says he is proud that a higher percentage of high school graduates is joining the military as a career and that the cost of training has been reduced.

Frederick’s service on the Gates Commission ultimately led to his appointment by President Nixon as Secretary of Commerce.  Frederick’s tenure, from 1973 to 1975, coincided with the Arab oil embargo, and he met that challenge to the nation’s economy by establishing the National Industrial Energy Conservation Council, which determined the level of energy consumption by various industries and encouraged conservation efforts.  Frederick credits the council with making America’s industrial base much more attuned to the need for energy conservation and engaged in fostering it than the average American citizen who clings to his gas-guzzling SUV. 

From Commerce Secretary, Frederick went on to become the U.S. Special Ambassador for Trade Negotiations from 1975 to 1977.  He served his final stint in government under President Ronald Reagan on the President’s Commission on Industrial Competitiveness, where he first met the late J. Peter Grace, co-founder of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

Frederick’s career in the private sector included tenures as the treasurer, president, and chairman of Mayfair Mills Textiles of Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he worked from 1947 to 2001 when not serving in government posts.  He laments the relatively recent liquidation of 2 million textile jobs in the U.S. due to outsourcing from other countries with cheaper labor.  Frederick considers the loss of the manufacturing base “bad for America.”           

Active in his community, Frederick is especially fond of supporting Spartanburg’s Chapman Cultural Center, which provides a venue to consolidate all of the various local arts groups in one place.  In addition, he is a trustee of the Brevard Music Center of Brevard, North Carolina, which caters to 375 young people during the summer.  He is also a founding trustee of Spartanburg Day School, which provides K-12 education.   

Talking about the political culture of our nation’s capital today, Frederick complains of rampant corruption, which he says is best illustrated by the proliferation of earmarks and the “battalions of lobbyists working to get them through the system.”  Frederick is outraged that members of Congress so often circumvent the normal budgetary process of review and oversight by congressional committees for the “midnight insertion of earmarks.”  In addition, he denounces the “high number of presidential appointees with tax delinquencies – more than any administration in the past.”

When asked why he believes supporting CAGW is important, Frederick asserts, “CAGW is the consciousness of American society’s control over federal expenditures.”  He notes the enormous size of the federal deficit, a burden that he regrets his 14 grandchildren and two great grandchildren will have to shoulder in the years ahead.  “CAGW is critically important to securing a sound future for our country and deserves financial support from all those who want to see America’s economy and national morality strengthened.”       


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