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Public Papers - 1992 - August

Remarks to Shaw Industries Employees in Dalton


Thank you very, very much for that welcome back to Georgia, and Bob, thank you, sir. I don't know if I detected a note of relief on Anna Sue's face that this event, that I'm sure has taken everybody's time, is here at hand and about to end. But thank you for making us feel so welcome in this wonderful corner of Georgia.

I want to greet our other hosts, Bill Lusk and Norris Little, Carl Rollins of Shaw, and my Georgia political team here: Fred Cooper, my dear friend, and also another dear friend, Alec Poitevint, who are doing a great job for us.

I would like to single out one department in this magnificent, enormous facility, and I'm talking about the area rug department, who made a nice little souvenir for me to take home with my own name on it. I'll tell you, I can't think of a nicer, more personalized remembrance than that. So wherever you may be, thank you very, very much, and thank the computers that spelled my name right. [Laughter]

Now, it is great to be in Dalton. I came here -- I want to be first in line for the Catamount tickets when they go on sale, and I've come for another reason, too. America, our great country, is moving into a new age, and Dalton gives us a glimpse of the future. Dalton takes challenges and reinvents them as opportunities. With the flexibility of companies like this one, like Shaw, with the brainpower and grit of your chemists and your maintenance mechanics and your designers, Dalton shows America the face of the 21st century. Dalton shows the way.

In the history of your industry you find a parable of American progress. It starts simply, families selling hand-tufted bedspreads that they made themselves out on Highway 41, Peacock Alley. It continues with the sprawling factories that sprung up after the war, rolling their carpets into homes and offices in every corner of America. And it continues today with an industry retooled by high tech, a work force more highly skilled than ever before, and a marketplace as big as the entire world.

The story has important lessons, lessons about how America grows and prospers. This election year, these lessons could not be more timely. The question today is not, can America compete in the global economy. I know and you know that we can. The question is how: How do we stay number one? How do we create jobs for every American and create opportunities for our kids, our children, and our families?

Some people say, ``Well, let the Government do it. Let the Government get in there.'' But Government does not create jobs; people do. Government does not provide opportunity; hard work does. Look around. This company, this industry was not built by some industrial planning congressional subcommittee in Washington, DC. It was born and built right here in Dalton, where the men and women take the risks and reap the rewards.

That's a lesson we shouldn't forget even given the hue and cry of this election year. When you get down to it, leadership is about trust. Trust runs both ways. You need a leader who you can trust, but you also need a leader who trusts in the American people, trusts you and not the Government to make the important decisions about your lives.

When you forget about this kind of trust, trusting people, you get some crazy ideas. I'll give you an example. These days the other side is pushing an idea that the way to fix this economy is to raise taxes by 0 billion. And at least half of that will fall on family farmers and small businesses. They call that change. I guess it makes sense because if the other side get in power, change is all you'll have left in your pocket. [Laughter]

Here's another crazy idea that's being pushed. They think they can fix health care by slapping you with at least a 7-percent payroll tax to finance a Government takeover scheme. Well, we'll have a health care system with the efficiency of the motor vehicles if we do that, the motor vehicles division, and also the KGB, the same compassion. As long as I am President, I am not going to let our medical system be socialized or nationalized. We have a plan that will provide insurance to all, those who need it, those who cannot afford it, and will protect the basic quality of American health care.

So trusting the people, it's an idea that applies to almost every issue in this election, especially when it comes to how we can compete in this whole new world global economy, how we can take on the new global competition head-on-head and win it.

Let me tell you how I learned about competing in the world. I'm a Texan, moved there in 1948, built a business there, raised my family there. Incidentally, I think it's a pretty good credential, for being President of the United States even, if you held a job in the private sector. I think that's good. In Texas I saw businesses and cities and towns rise up from those dusty plains, a place where you'd never expect it. The reason was that the whole world thirsted for what Texans had to offer, crude and cattle and cotton. We knew the more goods we sold outside our borders, the more jobs we created within them. I never forgot that lesson.

I saw it again when I went into public life. And yes, I was Ambassador up there at the United Nations and lived overseas in China -- just talking to Bob Shaw about that -- ran the CIA, and as Vice President, traveled around the world some. And every day I was outside of this country I learned again how important America was to the entire world and how important the world was to America. I'm talking about creating American jobs, about making this economy grow and prosper, and making sure our kids have an even better life than we've had.

I've seen this every day for 3/2\ years as President. I heard a certain southern Governor say the other day that this country was being ridiculed around the world. Well, I suspect -- and I'm not going to name names quite yet -- I suspect that he hasn't been around much. I'd like to have him walk the streets of Warsaw, as I did a few days ago, or Moscow or maybe sit down with Boris Yeltsin or Helmut Kohl or Miyazawa or a myriad of leaders south of our border. And they'd tell him what you and I already know: The United States is the undisputed leader of the world. That did not happen by accident. It happened by leadership and by the sons and daughters of America doing what they had to do, from Iraq all the way across a major spectrum of other places. It's the spirit of the United States. To tear down this country, to stand there and try to make the American people think we're a second-rate power, they simply don't understand the greatness of the United States of America.

Here's one way we're going to demonstrate it: trade, exports, open up markets so you can sell the goods you make right here. I heard Bob Shaw talk about it, and he is 100 percent correct. The day is long gone when you could sell carpets and rugs in 50 States and leave it just there. These days, standing still means falling behind. It's a new world. Markets are opening up in Guadalajara and Jakarta and Santiago and Moscow. And I'm going to see to it that Americans get there first.

It's not going to be easy. This export business is not easy. If you want America to lead the world, you need somebody who understands; you need a leader who understands the territory, someone you can trust to hammer out a good deal around the negotiating table. But you need even more. You need a leader who trusts you and someone who knows that Americans are the most productive, the most competitive workers the world has ever seen. All you need is a chance to show your stuff. As long as I am President, I'm going to fight to see that you get the chance to sell these products anywhere around the world.

Let me give you one example. Some people look at the former Soviet Union and see 300 million former Communists over there. Well, we look at it, and we see 300 million future customers. Now, math was never my favorite subject, but I've done some computing on this one. Let's say there's 50 million homes -- I don't know, give or take -- 50 million homes in the former Soviet Union; maybe 4.5 billion square yards of floor space, bare floor space. That's 4.5 billion square yards just waiting to be covered by your finest patterned berber. Of course, I'm factoring in kitchens and bathtubs, too. But I have faith in your sales force. They can sell anything, anyplace, anytime.

Another example: Since 1989 -- now, listen to this one -- since 1989, exports, carpet exports to Mexico are up by 60 percent. That's pretty darn good. But here in Dalton, pretty good isn't good enough. We're going to build on that success. Right now we're hammering out a new free trade deal with Canada and Mexico. We call it the NAFTA. I'm sure you've read about it. Here's what it will do. It will create 300,000 American jobs by 1995 and one of the largest free trade areas in the world. Free trade opens up the road, and on the open road, American workers leave the competition in the dust. Or as my friend Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, ``Hasta la vista, baby!'' We are on the move, and we're going to keep it on the move.

Now, it may be hard to believe, but the other side looks at these barriers falling and they say, ``Hold everything.'' They see these unbelievable opportunities, these vast markets to sell your goods, and they say, ``Well, we'd better not try. The challenge is too great; the odds are too long.'' They just by implication say the Americans can't compete. They say these other countries are going to walk all over us. Well, let me tell you something. In a way they are going to walk all over us. They're going to walk all over carpet made right here in Dalton, Georgia.

This is the year -- for 6 months we've been subjected to the darnedest pessimism about our great country that I have ever heard. Every time you turn on that television at night, somebody telling you what's wrong. Well, let me tell you what's right.

They say that America can't compete. I say we can compete and that we'll win. They say, ``Pull the blinds and lock the door; the American worker can't hack it anymore.'' I say the American worker can outthink, outwork, outcompete anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Here's a fact these pessimists better understand: Foreign trade supports the jobs of 153,000 Georgians, more than 7 million Americans. Here's my pledge to you: I will not let anyone endanger a single one of those jobs by going protectionist and closing up trade.

Let the other side criticize and say our country is ridiculed, laughed at around the world. They ought to open their eyes. Let them worry and whine. I am going to fight for these open markets because that means more jobs in this country, right here in Dalton, Georgia, among others, every city and State of our country. Let them run this country down; let them carp on what's wrong with America. I'm going to do what's right. That's what leadership is, and that's what trust is.

I'd like to bring these pessimists down here to this part of Georgia. I'd like to bring them right here to see this town, this industry. They might discover they've got nothing to fear from American workers and that American workers have nothing to fear from competition. This is one work force that can beat the pants off any competition.

That is the lesson of Dalton. That's why I'm here. I want that lesson to reverberate all across our entire country. You didn't fear the future; you shaped it. Your industry didn't retreat from foreign markets; you went out and conquered them. And with leadership that trusts in you, you'll keep beating the pants off the competition.

You and I do not feel that we are the laughingstock of the world. We are the undisputed leader. So let's keep it just exactly that way in the future. Let's keep America number one.

Thank you. And may God bless our great country. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:58 a.m. in the Shaw Industries Distribution Center South. In his remarks, he referred to company officials Robert Shaw, president and chief executive officer, William Lusk, senior vice president and treasurer, Norris Little, senior vice president for operations, and Carl Rollins, vice president; Mr. Shaw's wife, Anna Sue; Fred Cooper, State chairman, Bush-Quayle '92; and Alec Poitevint, Georgia Republican Party chairman.

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