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A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance Co.Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer It is even more true in this year where we have whittled away at our commitment to the work ethic, and how tragic this is. Corporate responsibility means being very aware of what Richard Parker told us in one of his essays: A cynical, each-man-for-himself attitude becomes the rule of life. That only the most powerful, the most resourceful and unscrupulous, the hyenas of economic life can come through unscathed. The great mass of those who put their trust in the traditional order, the innocent and the unworldly, all those who do productive and useful work but don’t know how to manipulate money, the elderly who hope to live on what they’ve earned in the past all those are doomed to suffer. An experience of this kind poisons the morale of a nation. And, my fellow citizens, the morale of this nation is suffering and as it does, your business and mine also suffer. I alluded to the word “principle” when I started. Most of you have engaged in numerous charitable drives, you’ve worked with United Way, the Red Cross, the hospitals in our community, and gee, these are worthwhile efforts, they really are. I don’t think there is anything more disgusting than to be confronted by someone who says, “It’s against my principles to give to this or that or the other.” He’s assuming that you are interpreting what he says with “principle” ending in “le” and the reality is, he’s using this as an excuse to conserve his principal ending with an “al.” Its this myopic type of individual that contributes to the condition in which this nation now finds itself. We want a people that are committed to the work ethic. I think it’s the most essential ingredient in the character of a nation that is, its commitment to the work ethic. Here we find ourselves in a situation where we have the highest unemployment since the depression, and we’re saying to these people, there are no jobs for you. This is the price that we all have to pay to get the nation back on an even keel. It doesn’t seem quite fair to me that out of the 220 or 230 million people that we have in this country of which approximately 10 or 12 million want to be working that we say to those 10 or 12 million unemployed, “It’s tough, but while we’re working and doing all right, you’ve got to pay the price.” You ask me, what’s the answer? Well, this isn’t the time or the place to get into economics, but the one thing I’m certain of is that fairness is the most essential requisite in a free democratic society. Putting the burden on 10 or 12 million people is not a reasonable answer with which to cure inflation. This is the greatest nation in the world. What makes it so are the standards to which we have adhered. When we begin to lessen those standards, our commitment to greatness diminishes. And when it does begin to do this to diminish, that is it accelerates at an exponential rate. And I submit to you that it’s up to those of us who head up corporations to take it upon ourselves as an essential part of corporate responsibility to advocate those policies and immediately that will encourage full employment. I know what survival means in business. I started one on a shoestring that has matured into a major American corporation. All along, however, we’ve taken into account our corporate responsibilities not nearly to the extent that perhaps we should have. But the truth is, we don’t have any choice now. As business people, we negotiate that which is negotiable. We try to buy the products we use at the best prices we can to sell at prices that produce a fair and equitable profit. We watch our costs and do those things that are attendant to good business practices. On the other hand, we also have to assume those responsibilities that decency dictates. Take, for example, United Way. It was conceived by those of us in business primarily. There were so many drives going on within the community that it was almost impossible for any executive to see all of the solicitors. Yet, within every community there are needs that have to be fulfilled, whether it’s the YMCA, Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, nursing homes, daycare centers, organizations that provide hot meals for the aged, care of orphans well, part of corporate responsibility is that we recognize the need to assume those responsibilities that decency dictates. And let me tell you one thing. Corporate intelligence recognizes that today’s unmet needs produce tomorrow’s revolutions. Many, many dictators none for whom I have any grief at all would still be in power if they would have recognized that axiom that today’s unmet needs produce tomorrow’s revolutions. Yes, corporate responsibility recognizes those areas in which the corporation must negotiate that which is negotiable and assume those responsibilities that decency dictates. We don’t need to do this out of the goodness of our heart. It’s just plain good common sense. Corporate responsibility means that a corporation isn’t looking for a free lunch, that it’s not going to be a parasite on the community. And what I mean by that is, after all, if a business has 100, 200, 500, 2,000 or 4,000 employees, these employees utilize the services of many of the service organizations of the community. These services may be recreational or a daycare center. It might be that the parents of the employee are being serviced by some particular organization in the community. Where does the money come from for these services? It comes from two places from those who’work and the businesses of our community. Both have to measure up to their responsibilities. Sometimes those businesses that talk the most about the free enterprise system are the most wanting when it comes to meeting corporate responsibilities. They suck up the best in the community and give nothing in return. Their leaders pride themselves in being men of principle and they are, but the word ends with “al.” I have a deep resentment about this very small minority of business people because to me they threaten the free enterprise competitive system, without which there can be ‘no free democratic society. We might all take heed from Albert Camus’ advice: I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day. That, my friends, sums up the approach that I think best describes corporate responsibility. American Income Life Insurance Company EXECUTIVE OFFICES: P.O. BOX 208, WACO, TEXAS 78703, 817-772-3050 BERNARD RAPOPORT Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17