Reagan delivered a speech in 1983 after the steep recession caused by Paul Volker had already vanquished runaway inflation and the economy was recovering sharply. The tone of Reagan vs. Obama could hardly be more different. Reagan was a truly a man of faith and principle from America's greatest generation. Here is an excerpt:
The character and conscience of small business built this nation. You know, in his book, ``Wealth and Poverty,'' George Gilder wrote something about entrepreneurs that I've long believed. He said that, ``Most contribute far more to society than they ever recover, and most of them win no riches at all. They are the heroes of economic life, and those who begrudge them their rewards demonstrate a failure to understand their role and their promise.'
Well, wouldn't it be nice to hear a little more about the forgotten heroes of America -- those who create most of our new jobs, like the owners of stores down the street; the faithfuls who support our churches, synagogues, schools, and communities; the brave men and women everywhere who produce our goods, feed a hungry world, and keep our families warm while they invest in the future to build a better America? That's where miracles are made, not in Washington, D.C.
We hear so much about the greed of business. Well, frankly, I'd like to hear a little more about the courage, generosity, and creativity of business. I'd like to hear it pointed out that entrepreneurs don't have guaranteed annual incomes. Before they can turn a profit, they must anticipate and deliver what consumers want. They must risk their money with investments.
The truth is, before entrepreneurs can take, they must give. And business begins with giving. And I believe business works best, creates the greatest wealth, and produces the most progress for all when we're free to follow the teachings of Scripture: Give and you will be given unto . . . search and you will find . . . cast your bread upon the waters and it will return to you manyfold.
Just think about it. In the Parable of Talents, the man with the small-business spirit who invested and multiplies his talents, his money, was praised. But the rich who hoard their wealth are constantly rebuked in Scripture. I believe we're meant to use wisely what is ours, make it grow, then help others to share and benefit from our success. And the secret of success is understanding that true wealth is not measured in material things, but in the treasures of the mind and spirit.
Oil was worthless until entrepreneurs with ideas and the freedom and faith to take risks managed to locate it, extract it, and put it to work for humanity. Someday, oil itself will be replaced if those driven by great dreams are still free to discover and develop new forms of energy.
The principles of wealth creation transcend time, people, and place. Governments which deliberately subvert them by denouncing God, smothering faith, destroying freedom, and confiscating wealth have impoverished their people. Communism works only in heaven, where they don't need it, and in hell, where they've already got it. [Laughter]
When we came to Washington, I said, ``Let us renew our faith and our hope. We have every right to dream heroic dreams, to believe in ourselves, to believe that together, with God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.''
We didn't propose a 20-point Federal plan. We pursued the one sure plan to get America moving again -- a renaissance in enterprise. Everything we've tried to do is guided by three simple words: Trust the people. We wanted to use that special principle of giving by putting America's destiny back in your hands. And this meant slowing the growth of an already bloated government and providing you incentives to save, to invest, and to take risks, so more wealth will be created at every level of our society.
Now that's what I call principled leadership! Apparently we will never see the likes of him again