Dec 7, 2013
Reagan’s Defense of Collective Bargaining
Posted on Mar 11, 2011
In 1980, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan defended collective bargaining as a fundamental human freedom. Soon after his election victory, both he and others in his party promptly forgot that promise.
Below are the video and text of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 Labor Day speech delivered at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J.
It is fitting that on Labor Day, we meet beside the waters of New York Harbor, with the eyes of Miss Liberty on our gathering and in the words of the poet whose lines are inscribed at her feet, “The air bridged harbor that twin cities frame.”
These families came here to work. They came to build. Others came to America in different ways, from other lands, under different, often harrowing conditions, but this place symbolizes what they all managed to build, no matter where they came from or how they came or how much they suffered.
They helped to build that magnificent city across the river. They spread across the land building other cities and towns and incredibly productive farms.
They came to make America work. They didn’t ask what this country could do for them but what they could do to make this refuge the greatest home of freedom in history.
They brought with them courage, ambition and the values of family, neighborhood, work, peace and freedom. They came from different lands but they shared the same values, the same dream.
Today a president of the United States would have us believe that dream is over or at least in need of change.
Jimmy Carter’s administration tells us that the descendants of those who sacrificed to start again in this land of freedom may have to abandon the dream that drew their ancestors to a new life in a new land.
The Carter record is a litany of despair, of broken promises, of sacred trusts abandoned and forgotten.
Eight million out of work. Inflation running at 18 percent in the first quarter of 1980. Black unemployment at about 14 percent, higher than any single year since the government began keeping separate statistics. Four straight major deficits run up by Carter and his friends in Congress. The highest interest rates since the Civil War—reaching at times close to 20 percent—lately down to more than 11 percent but now going up again—productivity falling for six straight quarters among the most productive people in history.
Through his inflation he has raised taxes on the American people by 30 percent—while their real income has risen only 20 percent. He promised he would not increase taxes for the low and middle-income people—the workers of America. Then he imposed on American families the largest single tax increase in history.
Let it show on the record that when the American people cried out for economic help, Jimmy Carter took refuge behind a dictionary. Well, if it’s a definition he wants, I’ll give him one. A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. Recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.
I have talked with unemployed workers all across this country. I have heard their views on what Jimmy Carter has done to them and their families.
They aren’t interested in semantic quibbles. They are out of work and they know who put them out of work. And they know the difference between a recession and a depression.
Let Mr. Carter go to their homes, look their children in the eye and argue with them that in is only a recession that put dad or mom out of work.
Let him go to the unemployment lines and lecture those workers who have been betrayed on what is the proper definition for their widespread economic misery.
Human tragedy, human misery, the crushing of the human spirit. They do not need defining—they need action.
And it is action, in the form of jobs, lower taxes, and an expanded economy that—as president—I intend to provide.
Call this human tragedy whatever you want. Whatever it is, it is Jimmy Carter’s. He caused it. He tolerates it. And he is going to answer to the American people for it.
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