T. Boone Pickens, "My Case for Reagan" (1984)
When businessmen consider why they should support President Reagan's reelection, their analysis should come down to two important questions: What has allowed their companies to grow and prosper? What makes business opportunities in America different from those in any other country?
The answer is free enterprise. Our economic system is what keeps Americans employed, clothed, housed, and nourished. That system makes it possible for every American to attain his or her dream of material or spiritual wealth. It truly makes ours the land of opportunity. This year voters will have a clear choice between a President who believes in retaining the maximum amount possible of the nation's wealth in the private sector and a challenger who supports a greater role for government.
More than any other President in the last 30 years, Ronald Reagan understands the importance of free enterprise. He knows that this country's markets should be allowed to operate freely and competitively. That's the philosophy he brought to the White House in 1981, and we've seen how beneficial the results are. Since President Reagan took office, inflation has dropped from nearly 14% to approximately 4%, and the prime rate has fallen from 20% to 13%.
By reducing government intervention, Reagan has injected a new competitive spirit into the marketplace. There is now an atmosphere that encourages business efficiency. For example, merger and acquisition activity, properly undertaken within the constraints of antitrust laws, has allowed companies and even entire industries to restructure and become more efficient and financially sound. Shareholders have reaped the rewards of their investments, and the government has received additional revenues as taxes are paid on those gains.
In contrast, Walter Mondale does not appear to understand what makes America work. His proposals would more heavily tax individuals and corporations, inhibit capital formation, and use government as the primary means to stimulate employment.
The cheapest, most effective way to create jobs is to encourage business growth, not to devise complicated and costly federal programs. Ronald Reagan has proved that. His policies have invigorated the market and put more Americans to work. Economic recovery is the best jobs programs this country has had. A record 107 million people are currently employed, five million more than when the Carter-Mondale Administration left office.
But Reagan has done even more for the average worker than stimulate employment. Through his tax policies, Americans are now taking home more pay. They have more money for their children's education, a new home, retirement, and investments. Some 42 million Americans have invested in shares of publicly owned companies, either directly or through mutual funds, compared with 30 million in 1980.
We've seen tangible evidence that Ronald Reagan's policies are working for America. That's important for everyone in this country. The health of U.S. business is critical to our nation's survival. We do, indeed, have a responsibility to support candidates who understand that principle--a responsibility not just to ourselves but to all citizens.
I am frequently asked by high school and college students how they can attain success from modest beginnings. My answer is simple. Like many business executives, I owe my success to the free enterprise system. I started with a good education, $2,500 in capital, and an opportunity to do something--the sky was the limit, and fortunately the same opportunity still exists.
The American free enterprise spirit is something we will be able to maintain only under a Reagan Administration. While Walter Mondale tells us that his plan for this country is better, we've seen what better means: Mondale's recent speeches have promised increased government intervention in the market and our lives and disincentives in the form of higher taxes.
The ill effects of the Carter-Mondale Administration were far-reaching: double-digit inflation--the worst since 1946--unemployment, skyrocketing interest rates, and a crumbling economy. There is no reason to believe that a Mondale-Ferraro Administration would be any different in philosophy or outcome.
All of us realize the importance of strong leadership. It is the greatest attribute any President can have and should be a prime asset of the nation. Lack of leadership ability is one of my greatest concerns about a Mondale-Ferraro Administration. Mondale has given no indication of having such ability either as Carter's Vice President or on his own. How could a nation possibly trust the affairs of state to a person who could not make a decision as to whether Bert Lance or Charles Manatt would chair his party?
America need not take that chance when it is blessed with an incumbent President who has proven leadership qualities. Ronald Reagan has been able to instill a new sense of pride and confidence in our nation. Gone are the days of Carter-Mondale defeatism and national malaise.
In 1980 the American people realized the disastrous economic brink on which this country teetered. They wanted a change for the better, and they chose a President who accomplished that goal. On November 6, Americans will once again ask themselves if a change is in order. I think the resounding answer will be that they wish to stay the course Reagan has charted. We're no longer on the brink of disaster; both feet are planted firmly on solid ground, and the future looks bright.
I'm supporting President Reagan and Vice President Bush for those reasons, and I unabashedly ask others to support them as well. I make no apology for political participation. At stake in this election is the future of the free enterprise system. A commitment from the business community, not just a check, is required to prevent another give-away-now, pay-later disaster. And that commitment will mean for future Americans a vigorous free market, the opportunity to succeed, and an attainable American Dream.