Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966

Author: Lyndon B. Johnson  | Date: July 23, 1966

Remarks in Indianapolis at a Luncheon With Indiana Business, Labor, and Professional Leaders.
July 23, 1966

Governor Branigin, Mr. Pulliam, Mayor Barton, my friends, Senator Hartke and Senator Bayh and Congressman Jacobs, the distinguished and able congressional delegation from Indiana, members of both parties, other Members of Congress and distinguished Governors who are here with us today, my friends:

For many of our 150 years, Indiana has been known as the crossroads of America. This is a good time and a good place for me to talk about America’s oldest dream: the building of a Great Society embracing the talents of all Americans.

Every man sees the Great Society through his own eyes. But I think we all mean about the same thing. We mean a nation where man can enlarge his reach and realize his full potential.

We mean a nation that is free of those things that afflict a man’s body and restrict his mind—crime and ignorance, disease and poverty.

We mean a nation that is free of those brutalities that rob him of his real happiness in the great cities of this land where we live.

We mean a nation where men set aside their prejudices and work together in common tasks, uniting the land.

For 200 years now we have acknowledged that all men are born with certain rights that no person can take away from them. We have dreamed of a place where men, women, and their children can live, work, learn, and grow in peaceful environment and surroundings.

And now this dream has become a national purpose. Our oldest hopes have become our newest possibilities. All of these are within our reach. We can achieve them if we just build on three pillars: a strong economy, a sense of duty, a spacious vision.

The resources of our economy in this land are boundless. For decades Americans have enjoyed the highest standard of living to be found anywhere on this earth. For the last 65 months in this land it has moved further and faster than the most optimistic "Pollyanna" ever realized or ever predicted.

Last year our 6 percent real growth of production in this country topped every other industrial nation outside North America. It is clear that this year we will be very near the head of that list.

Our output today is $270 billion higher than it was 5 years ago. And that is after we have taken into account the price increases. Along with that has come a steady increase in the job security of the people who work in this land.

Five years ago about 5 percent of our Nation’s married men had no jobs at all. For the past 6 months that number has stayed well below 2 percent.

Five years ago almost 2 million Americans had spent 15 weeks in a row looking forwork. Today that unfortunate group is not 2 million—it is less than even a half a million.

Our economy has created 7 million new jobs during the past 5 years, and 4 million new jobs during the last 2 years. These have been better jobs. They are better-paying jobs. They are steadier jobs.

And that is not all. Corporation profits after taxes have doubled. Dividends are up 55 percent. Income per farm has risen 48 percent. Our families have increased their savings and financial assets by nearly St trillion—a trillion dollars—over the past 5 years.

Every now and then you hear someone say that the cost of living is wiping out these gains. Well, that simply is not so. The cost of living has gone up. But the earnings have gone up, too. The average family, even after all the price increases we have had as a result of better wages and better profits, is earning the equivalent of 11 paychecks each year, extra paychecks.

The average family here in Indiana, after price increases, is now spending $1,600 more a year for goods and services than they did 5 years ago.

Now let me repeat that: The average family in the State of Indiana, after price increases, is spending $1,600 more a year for goods and services than they were spending 5 years ago. Since the end of 1963 alone, when I became President, that same family has increased its buying power by nearly $1,000 per family.

The most important fact is this: If business, labor, and Government each go their own way, if each looks after its own narrow, selfish interests, if each ignores the interests of the others and the interest of the country as a whole, then the gloom and doom, disturbed, troubled, and fearful prophets could be right.

But if we work together, if we quit calling each other names, if we put the national interest above our own interest, there just simply is no end to progress in America.

This administration has not shirked its own responsibility in the fight against inflation. But Government, I would remind you leaders here today, cannot do it all. We must have from labor, we must have from business, all the restraint and all the responsibility that they advocate and expect from Government.

American labor knows that what happens to them when hourly wages advance much faster than the output of each man-hour is that the advance in living costs then eats up these extra gains.

Last Wednesday the British Government had to ask for legislation freezing all British wages and prices. Wage rates in England have moved up in recent months at an average of 8 or 9 percent a year. In the past several years, despite repeated and urgent appeals for restraint, they have increased at the rate of 5 or 6 percent a year. And that is more than twice the increase in productivity. The result is severe crisis.

Since 1960, American hourly wages and fringe benefits have averaged about 4 percent a year. This is not far from the average advance in our real productivity. That is why the American worker’s standard of living has improved far faster than that of his British laboring friend.

Between 1960 and 1965, American wholesale prices of manufactured goods other than food rose three-tenths of one percent. In England they rose 2 2/10 percent. I do not cite these figures out of complacency. I cite them because all modern democracies, including our own, must learn and must remember this lesson: Rapid growth in freedom requires steady self-discipline and steady restraint.

American businessmen know that if they advance prices when costs are stable, thesecosts will move upward. Businessmen sell to each other as well as to the public. One man’s price increase is another man’s cost increase. When higher prices increase the consumer’s cost of living, labor will ask for more. Costs will then move up. The gains of business will evaporate. Our ability to export will weaken.

The overwhelming majority of labor unions and businesses have taken these lessons to heart in this country. They have heard and they have generally answered this Nation’s call. I hope now that the others will join, too.

We are engaged today in a fight against aggression, against force, aggression that seeks to envelop free people and gobble them up. During this emergency, when we have 400,000 men protecting liberty and freedom in the world, we are asking the leaders of business and of labor to act with some extra caution and some extra concern in the national interest.

To business we say this: The right to profit carries the duty of prudence. Avoid reckless expansion. Order only the new plant and equipment that your business needs. Don’t accumulate unnecessary inventories just to bring in unearned profits if prices jump sharply.

Most businessmen know that this administration jealously guards their opportunity to earn a fair profit and takes great pleasure and pride in seeing them do so. But this administration also believes that the freedom to set prices carries with it a responsibility to reduce prices when costs have fallen.

To labor in America today we say: The right to bargain collectively carries the duty to bargain constructively. We call them to recognize that the real gain to labor cannot be more than the rise in the national productivity.
Most labor leaders know that this administration strongly supports the freedom of organized labor to seek better working conditions, advancing incomes, shorter hours, security for its members, and increased benefits.

But this administration believes that this freedom also carries with it an obligation. This obligation is not to gain a compensation which, if all unions were to achieve it, would result in increased costs and force higher prices.

We have learned these lessons about economic freedom and responsibility. In these critical times, business, labor, and Government should be very careful not to forget them.

But all of our citizens also have a duty, as well as a right. The first is to keep the peace. A democratic society suffers when any of its citizens seek to change the course of events by violence. The alternative to self-discipline is tyranny itself.

A second duty is not only to abide by the decisions of Government, but to help shape those decisions. Both law and lawmakers are changed in a democratic society through peaceful means and not through violence.

Our third duty is to respect the opinions and interests of our fellow citizens. Men do not protest without cause. A just society will learn the cause and will act accordingly. That is what we are trying to do in this country. We have made great advances in the last 36 months.

Many citizens of this land are living in poverty, without jobs and in miserable housing conditions. They have seen those conditions improve. They have found employment. We are working on those problems that have been eating away at us for decades. They are a small minority of our population, we recognize. But their plight is a cause for national concern of all of us.

We have been working to relieve thatplight and taking steps to do so. Our goal is to break down the ghettoes, to create jobs, to improve education, to provide better homes.

We are appropriating this year for health and education in our national budget $10 billion more for health and education than we were spending when I became President less than 3 years ago.

That is why we are pouring our skills and resources into these programs: manpower training, Medicare, better housing, education, and the like. That is why we are trying to gain approval for our rent supplement and our demonstration cities program. That is why we need your help in making these advances forward to meet the problems of the 20th century that have accumulated throughout this great Nation.

All of this takes time. It takes human and it takes financial resources. It takes understanding and it takes cooperation. It takes the commitment of the Federal Government, the States, the cities, and the counties. It takes the efforts of the poor themselves and of men and women who are leaders, like you, in this great Midwestern State.

For what we must do is no less than to correct the injustices of two centuries which give men their reasons to protest. But there are ways of protesting that any civilized society can tolerate. There are also ways of protesting that are unacceptable.

The ballot box, the neighborhood committees, the political and civil rights organizations-these are the means by which Americans express their resentment against intolerable conditions, their design to reform society, but not to rip it apart.

Riots in the streets will never bring lasting reform. They tear at the very fabric of the community. They set neighbor against neighbor. They create walls of mistrust and fear among fellow citizens. They make reform more difficult by turning away the very people who can and who must support their reforms. They start a chain reaction the consequences of which always fall most heavily on those who begin this chain reaction.

So it is not only to protect the society at large that we refuse to condone riots and disorders. It is to serve the real interests of those for whose cause we struggle. Our country can abide by civil protest. It can improve the lives of those who mount that protest. But it cannot abide by civil violence.

The next pillar of our task is a spacious vision of what this great America can really be. For prosperity is not enough, and duty alone cannot transform our country.

Where there is no vision the people perish. But vision does not belong just to a President alone. It must be the sum of all the Nation’s dreams.

For my part, I believe that America can be a place where the last man among us, the last man, has an equal chance to become the best that is in him.

For my part, I believe that America can be a place where the impossible is heard of and the unlikely happens today. When it comes to America, I am an optimist. I am an optimist because I have lived through 57 of the best and the worst years that this country has ever known. I have seen with my own eyes what this great Nation and these great people can do.

I want you to think of all that has happened in the last five decades—spacecraft and penicillin, computers and electric dishwashers, air conditioners and atomic power, a 5-day workweek and movies in the sky.

But those are only a small part of it. They are the things, though, that make life easier and happier. But think of all that has happened to us that really makes life better for Americans.

Think of the children who do not die and of those who no longer work in sweatshops at grueling labor.

Think of the millions of men and women who are Negroes who now vote and of all the workers who now are retired in good health.

Think of the millions who today can read and write and the heart attacks that people have that no longer kill.

We forget these victories in our prosperity very quickly. This may be well for it really means that we always go on to the next job at hand. Our work is cut out for us.

By 1976 there will be 220 million of us. We will have to create jobs for 12 1/2 million more people, including 4 million jobs just for our teenagers alone.

We will have to provide for 3 million more elementary school students, 4 million more high school students, 4 million more college and university students. We will need 2 million more elementary and secondary schoolteachers alone. We will have to build 200,000 additional elementary and high school classrooms. We will have to replace 500,000 more classrooms.

We will need 40,000 more doctors just to keep up with the growing needs. We will have to provide roads and streets and parking places for up to 40 million more automobiles.

We must bring to the millions of Americans who still live in misery an improved and a better standard of living, a fuller share of justice, and a deeper faith in this land that we all love.

We have cities to rebuild. We have traffic jams to resolve. We have rivers and lands to reclaim.

All of these things and more are awaiting us. We will do them. There is only one thing that I am sure we will not do: that we will not stand still. We know our problems and we know our faults. We know the dark shadows that fall across this land at times. We know the self-doubts that disturb us and sometimes the frailties that undo us.

But we also know that here is a Nation that in 50 years has ended two world wars, has beat off a savage depression, has played a major role in rebuilding a shattered world for 3 billion people and has all the time gone about creating the most wealthy, the most healthy, the most beautiful, the most educated nation that the world has ever seen at any time, at any place.

I, as an American, am proud of it. And you ought to be.

So on this great day of joy and celebration in this great State, on this 150th anniversary of Indiana’s statehood, we meet with our hosts who have extended the hand of hospitality to us today, Democrats and Republicans, businessmen and workers, labor unions and public servants, and it is good to take stock of what we have done and take stock of what still is ahead of us.

Of this I am absolutely sure: The best is yet to come.

I want to close today with a favorite quote that my oldest daughter, Lynda, gave me yesterday. It is a passage from Kipling. I think it is most appropriate at this moment.
"We giving all, gained all.
Neither lament us nor praise.
Only in all things recall
It is fear, not death, that slays."

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:10 p.m. in the Athletic Club at Indianapolis, Ind. In his opening words he referred to Governor Roger D. Branigin, Eugene C. Pulliam, publisher of various newspapers in Indiana and Arizona, Mayor John J. Barton of Indianapolis, Senator Vance Hartke, and Representative Andrew Jacobs, Jr., all of Indiana.


Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options

Title: Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Lyndon B. Johnson, "347 Remarks in Indianapolis at a Luncheon With Indiana Business, Labor, and Professional Leaders.," Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1465-1466 765–767. Original Sources, accessed October 3, 2023,

MLA: Johnson, Lyndon B. "347 Remarks in Indianapolis at a Luncheon With Indiana Business, Labor, and Professional Leaders." Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1465-1466, pp. 765–767. Original Sources. 3 Oct. 2023.

Harvard: Johnson, LB, '347 Remarks in Indianapolis at a Luncheon With Indiana Business, Labor, and Professional Leaders.' in Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1465-1466, pp.765–767. Original Sources, retrieved 3 October 2023, from