Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks to Students at Fairview Elementary School in Columbia, Missouri

March 26, 1987

The President. I know that Secretary Bennett and I are both very happy to be here.

Can you all hear?

Students. Yes.

The President. And I think this is wonderful what you're doing, but at least I have to tell you this: You're way ahead of me, because I haven't caught up with computers yet. We didn't have them when I was in this grade in school, and I think it's wonderful that you do.

But I'd also like to say to you that a great many things that you have—spaceships and jet airplanes, radio, television—all of those things came after I was born. There hadn't been any such things. And yet you are going to—just as we now, who've grown up with all of these things coming along during our lifetime, and seeing all these miracles-and I call computers miracles—you're going to see many things you can't even imagine today.

But this very problem also touched on something that was one of the great things of our land, and that is the ability for anyone who gets an idea about a kind of business—wants to be in business for themselves—can do it. And we call that, in our country, we call that independent, or maybe even small business, because it isn't like the great corporations that make the automobiles and airplanes and that sort of thing. But that small, independent business in America accounts for most of the new jobs that give people employment, and indeed is responsible for most of the jobs in the country that people must have to make their living. So, you are learning something that is not just schoolwork that you can walk out and forget. You're learning some pretty practical things that will come in handy the rest of your life. And I just congratulate you and just wanted you to know that you're way ahead of where people like the Secretary and I were when we were in your class, or in your grade. So, carry on, and thanks for letting us interrupt. Bye bye.
Students. Bye bye.

Reporter. Did you make a profit on your lemonade sale, Mr. President? Did you make a profit on the lemonade?

The President. He went for bigger business and he made more, but what was it we made on the profit here? I'd have to look it up in the books. Yes, we made a profit of $2.10—started out with assets of $2.00. We've now got $4.00 and a dime.

Q. Now, did you hear the part, Mr. President, about not being able to spend more than you take in, because then you wind up with a deficit?

The President. I didn't think there was any sense in getting into government. [Laughter]

Q. You know about deficits?

The President. What?

Q. You know about deficits?

The President. Oh, I do, yes.

Q. Anything you could tell the students about deficit spending—more than you've got?

The President. You see, what they're all teasing me about is the fact that our government is spending more than it takes in. And each year the debt gets greater. And I would like to say back to them—because they're trying to tackle me because we're having deficits now—we've been having deficits in our country for the last 56 years, spending more than we've been taking in. So, we now owe over $2 trillion. And what we're trying to do right now in Washington, people like the Secretary and myself, is persuade the Congress to get back to where we're not spending more than we take in. Because if you did that with your orange stand, you'd be out of business the first day.

Mrs. Loethen. Well, we think you're wonderful. Thank you for coming to Fairview.

The President. Thank you.

Secretary Bennett. You're wonderful, too. Thank you. Bye, boys and girls.

Mrs. Loethen. Thank you very much.

The President. Goodbye.

Students. Bye bye.

Note: The President spoke at 12:30 p.m. to Mrs. lean Loethen's third grade class. Prior to his remarks, the President and Secretary of Education William J. Bennett participated in an economics exercise with students.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks to Students at Fairview Elementary School in Columbia, Missouri Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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