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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 6, 1994
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

Old Executive Office Building

12:57 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Diane. I'm sorry I can't be with you in New York today, and I'm glad at least we have a oneway superhighway. Maybe by the time the Vice President leaves today, he will explain how it can be a two-way superhighway by next year.

Before the presentations of this year's awards, I want to say a few words about the importance of the work you're doing. I wanted just to be able to come in this way to you, even though the Vice President was good enough to come up there and express our full thoughts about this. But I wanted to say a few things, because I think it's very important that people be recognized who understand that there is no necessary conflict between doing well and doing good, and between what is in one's short-term personal interest and what is in the long-term best interest of a company or a community or a country.

I want to thank Jim Burke, the chairman of the Business Enterprise Trust; and my long time friend, Norman Lear, for leading this vital initiative. I hope that this idea that is behind the awards that are going out will somehow find its way into the mind and into the heart of decisionmakers all across America.

I also want to congratulate the five honorees today: Mario Antoci, the chairman and CEO of Savings Bank of California; Barbara Roberts, president of FPG International; Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbuck's Coffee; the Fel-Pro Corporation, and the Xerox Corporation. This gathering represents a remarkable groundswell of leadership within the American business community -- people who are leading this country into the 21st century with integrity and with vision. The private sector always has been the engine of wealth creation and job creation in our country. But now it must also help us to lead the way and share in the partnership of getting all of us to take responsibility for ourselves, our families, our communities and our countries.

As companies regain their prosperity in this growing economy, business leaders with the future in mind know we have to share the fruits of the recovery with the employees, the workers, the backbone of our success. Ultimately, the stability of our workforce and our society depends upon the faith of people that if they work hard, they'll get ahead and they'll be treated fairly. That's what's really an issue here. You may have your differing interpretations about the results of the elections in 1994, or even those in 1992. But one thing is abundantly clear -- the most alienated people in our society are people who are working harder than they were 10 years ago for lower wages; who feel insecure; who feel that they're just a cog in a machine -- that if they lose their job, no one will really care; if they lose their health benefits and their children can't go to the doctor, no one will really care; if they can never send their children to college, no one will really care.

All of you know that investing in your workers is the most important investment you can make. You're being honored today because you've treated people not like cost centers to be cut, but wealth centers to be strengthened; because they, too -- your workers -- face the competitive pressures of the global economy. That's a job that you and I must share, and a job we have to get all other Americans to share. We have got to restore the faith of hardworking people that they can be in and be successful in the middle class. We've got to be able to send a shining signal to poor Americans that if they work hard, they can work their way into the middle class. We've got to give people a sense that all of us know we're all in this together. And we have to do it together. I commit myself to doing that with you in the years to come.

Joe Wilson, the pioneering founder of Xerox recognized the need for this kind of visionary leadership when he said, our society needs businesspeople who can articulate lofty goals and demonstrate high dedication to those goals while they profit from the services they offer. Those words are very fitting today. The companies being honored have proven that you can have strong values and a strong bottom line. I've had personal experience with some of them, and I thank them.

This is a time for all Americans and all leaders to be bold. We can be confident. We can have the kind of enthusiasm and vision you exhibit every day because of the successes that we are seeing in the American economy. But we have got to keep working until all Americans feel that they are a part of the success.

I applaud you for your efforts in that regard. And I am grateful, very grateful, to the Business Enterprise Trust for leading this profoundly significant effort.

Thank you very much.

END1:05 P.M. EST