Remarks to the 15th Annual Washington Conference of the Advertising Council.
Mr. Gray, Members and Friends of the Advertising Council:
This is the seventh time that I have had the honor of meeting with this group. Always before I have spoken extemporaneously, but I thought as a change of pace that it might be a good idea to take the results of some of my Augusta contemplation and put it on paper and therefore address you from notes.
First of all, of course, it is a great privilege to welcome you back to Washington, and once again you have my sincere thanks for the significant contributions you have made in developing a better public understanding of the important issues that confront our Nation.
I am especially grateful for your response to the serious economic challenge we experienced during the past year.
Each of you will recall that when you were meeting here last May we were still at a very low point in the recent recession. Production was off, unemployment was up and pessimistic voices were loud in the land.
Although the basic soundness of our economy was not in jeopardy, there was a danger that the prophets of doom might undermine confidence to the point where normal recovery would be unnecessarily and seriously retarded. It was perfectly possible for us to talk ourselves into far worse circumstances than we actually were.
Obviously many of you recognized this possibility. Even before I met with you last year you had launched your now-famous Confidence Campaign, designed to put all the talk about recession back into a proper perspective.
This Confidence Campaign was a material factor influencing the recovery movement that started last summer. Many other specific factors of course played a part in bringing about the upturn. But this matter of confidence--of morale--is fundamental to any human activity.
Without confidence, constructive action is difficult--often impossible. With it, miracles can be performed.
So I know you are all pleased to see the gains that recovery continues to chalk up. Total employment in March this year stood at nearly 64 million--a million above February, and a million and a half above a year ago. Unemployment at the end of March stood at 4 million 362 thousand--a drop of about 4 hundred thousand from the February total. We have every reason to believe that this trend will continue. Personal incomes are setting records each month, and the Gross National Product is now running at an all time high of 464 billion dollars a year. And, what is vitally important--we have been making this recovery while maintaining the soundness and honesty of our dollar! The Consumer Price Index has held steady for nearly a year--which means that the recovery figures are genuine gains in actual buying power and goods produced.
We have made a fine start, and all the hard work we've done so far has paid off in stability. But we can't afford to relax for a single minute.
Some have told me that I am too concerned about this problem of inflation because for several months the indices have been reasonably steady.
They forget that it is too late to repair a leaky roof when the rain is pouring down. This is exactly the time to think about inflation, because we can be certain that the problem will return to beset us. Only the most persistent counter-pressures will keep prices where they belong. As usual, the Advertising Council has anticipated the need, and you are well under way on your sound-dollar campaign. I congratulate you on your foresight, and wish you every success on this latest of your important undertakings.
Turning to the international situation, I note that Mr. Herter has just given you a briefing on this subject, so my own remarks will be short. But I would like to leave with you this thought:
We are up against a problem that has no fixed or definitely foreseeable termination. As long as the Communists insist that their aim is to dominate the world, we have no choice but to adopt measures that will prevent this from happening. So we follow the only sound course open to us. We hold up a military shield and from behind that shield we strive to build a world that is decent, a world that is rewarding to people.
If we can do this indefinitely, as to time--and confidently throughout the free world, then the Communist threat will tend gradually to shrink because the possibility of growth will be denied to it. Remember, two thirds of the world's people, and the great preponderance of its productive resources, are on our side of the Iron Curtain. The need of America, of the free world, is to develop this great unrealized potential for peace, justice, and freedom.
This is going to take a long time. The vital requirement is not by any means exclusively a matter of military strength--the free nations urgently need economic growth and the free communication of ideas. The mainspring of this effort will be our American economy with our body of progressive traditions, knowledge, and beliefs.
We are challenged to prove that any nation, wherever it is whatever its strength--can prosper in freedom, that slavery is not necessary to economic growth even in the atmosphere of a cold war of conflicting ideologies. We will have to show that people need not choose between freedom and bread; they can earn both through their own efforts. We must prove to other peoples what we have already proved to ourselves: that in providing for man's material needs private enterprise is infinitely superior to Communist State Capitalism.
America must demonstrate to the world--even under the conditions of a global struggle--that personal liberty and national independence are not only cherished dreams, they are workable political concepts. Broadly stated--the test before us is an exercise in living--living in the presence of danger. We can recognize the danger, in potential aggression, and provide against it. But security is only one of the requirements of society. Our ability to go on existing as a free nation is the product of several factors, all interdependent. For example, such matters as solvency and security are natural complements in a free society. Over the long term we either provide for both, or we will discover that we have provided for neither.
This is why it is so important that we do not become unhinged by tension and by crises; why we have such a direct concern in the long range results of our educational process in the nation; why we should concern ourselves with the trade problems of other free countries. This is why a stable dollar and a sound fiscal policy are so essential. Orderly, meaningful economic expansion cannot take place if inflation rots away the value represented in loans, insurance, pensions, and personal savings.
Economic expansion is an absolute necessity if we are to find jobs for our growing labor force, meet the Communist economic challenge, and pay for our cos fly armaments. Always we must act in the concept that we are building for the future--for the world of our children, and those who come after them. We are the trustees of an ancient and noble inheritance which embodies the conviction of our forefathers that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain rights, rights that spell human dignity. We owe to those who will come after us the most responsible stewardship of these priceless values that we know how to provide.
So it is that we need a Continuing Confidence Campaign--one to be practiced by all who believe in America. We need people who can look beyond today's tensions and tomorrow's troubles to see us as we really are: a powerful, peaceful nation, in whose continued growth and strength are found the one great hope of the world.
Thank you--and goodbye.
Note: The President spoke at the District Red Cross Building. His opening words "Mr. Gray" referred to Gordon Gray, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, who served as chairman of the conference.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks to the 15th Annual Washington Conference of the Advertising Council. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235422