Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Thank you very, very much, Congressman Del Latta, Dr. Moore, Governor Rhodes, Senator Bob Taft, Congressman Bud Brown, Congressman Chuck Whalen, Mr. Shanklin, students, faculty, and guests of Bowling Green State University:
It's great to be here. I have been looking forward to it. I have been here before. And let me say, it is a pleasure to be here at the home of the Falcons.
When I left home to go to the University of Michigan a few years ago, some people called it leaving the nest. Here in Bowling Green I hear you have a nest of your own that some people never seem to leave. [Laughter] But I am not sure whether they are talking about the Falcon's Nest 1 or the campus cemetery. [Laughter]
Well, I had a prepared speech, and now I am going to talk to you straight.
I have had a wonderful trip to the great State of Ohio today. We started in Cincinnati. We went up the western side of the State stopping in seven or eight communities, and the warmth and the reception of the people of Ohio has been just tremendous. And it is culminating here in this fantastic gathering here in the Bowling Green State University fieldhouse, gymnasium--whatever you call it. [Laughter] It's a wonderful facility, and I congratulate you on having a beautiful campus.
1 A local bar.
But let me talk about some things that I think interest everybody--students, faculty, townspeople--and I ask you to go back just about 22 months ago when I became President of the United States. This country was in tough shape. We had serious problems; we had gone through a traumatic experience.
August of 1974 wasn't the happiest period in the history of the United States. August 9, I became President. The American people had lost confidence and trust in the White House itself. The American people were faced with some serious economic problems. Inflation was going along at a rate of 12 percent or better. We were on the brink of the worst economic recession in 40 years. Unemployment was about to soar, and employment was about to plummet.
We were faced with serious problems around the world. Our allies were wondering whether we had a will and a resolution to continue the kind of foreign policies that had been successful for the free world ever since the end of World War II. Our adversaries around the globe were tempted, I'm sure, as to whether or not they could or should take advantage of the uncertainty and the problems we faced at home.
It wasn't an easy job to take that oath of office and say we had to turn things around. And let me say the first and most important responsibility was to restore the confidence and trust of the American people in the White House itself.
I was very pleased to hear Del Latta, who I served with for 18 years, make the comments that he did. But I decided that the Ford administration, right from the first moment after the oath of office, would be sraight-forward, would be candid, would be open, would be willing to talk to anybody, whether I agreed with them or disagreed with them, because all of the wisdom does not reside in that little Oval Off:ice. It resides in some 215 million Americans, young and old.
I was checking the other day, and in the 22 months we have had 15,000 people come into the West Wing of the White House and either talk to me or the top people in my administration. They have been farmers, they have been workers, they have been minorities, they have been businessmen, they have been academicians. We want to get the full benefit of the views and the criticisms of the American people.
Therefore, I think in all honesty that I can say to all of you here at Bowling Green State University, this President has restored the faith and confidence that's needed and necessary in the White House if we are going to do a job for our country.
Let's talk about the economic problems. I said inflation was at 12 percent or more. We were about to hit the kind of a recession that had never hit us since the days of the 1939's, during the depression, when I was going to the University of Michigan. We had to do something about it. The question was whether we should have faith and trust in the great free enterprise system or whether we were going to load up the payrolls around the country with the taxpayers' money and come up with some alleged quick fix that had been tried in the past but had not really solved the problems.
So, I decided that it was needed and necessary to have faith, trust in the system that had given this country so much in the 200 years. You know a little history doesn't hurt. When this country started with 13 poor, struggling Colonies, they faced adversity beyond comprehension but they believed that an individual ought to have the right to pursue his occupation without the heavy hand of government resting on his shoulder or hitting him over the head.
The kind of system that our forefathers gave us permitted this country to grow to the wonderful land where some 215 million Americans have more opportunities and more blessing than any other country in the history of mankind.
So, we decided that we would give the free enterprise system a chance. And what has happened? First, inflation, which was 12 percent or more, is now 3 percent or less for the first 4 months of 1976, and that's a good record.
And what does that mean? It means that the paycheck that the man in the factory, the student--in 1976, he's got more spendable income than he can use, and use as he wants to. He's not robbed by the ravages of inflation as he was when I took that oath of office in August of 1974.
But we are going to do better. We are going to stay the course, and we are going to get the rate of inflation down to the kind of a level where this country can grow and prosper, and people, whether they're on fixed income or working in a factory or tilling the soil or teaching in this university, or students who are going here, will get a fair shake and not be robbed day after day after day by the kind of inflation we had in 1974.
Then, just about a year ago, we were in the depths of the recession. We had to do something, and again I had some faith and trust in the kind of a system where five out of six jobs in this country come from the private sector--and those are permanent jobs that give some opportunity for advancement for the young people who go from high school or college into the working world.
And what's happened? In the last 12 months, 3,700,000 more people are gainfully employed in America--300,000 more in the month of May, 700,000 more in the month of April. We had announced last Friday afternoon or Friday morning by the Department of Labor that 87,700,000 people are gainfully employed in this country--an all-time record, and we should be darned proud of it.
I'm not going to talk about unemployment statistics. Let me put it this way: 87,700,000 jobs, an all-time record. That does not satisfy me. We are going to get 90 million jobs as soon as we possibly can, and we are well on the road for that objective.
Let me add one final
Note: The President spoke at 8:03 p.m. in the Anderson Arena Memorial Hall. In his opening remarks, he referred to Dr. Hollis A. Moore, Jr., president, and Charles E. Shanklin, president of the board of trustees, Bowling Green State University.
Gerald R. Ford, Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/257429