Ronald Reagan delivers his radio commentary, 1977.
Ronald Reagan radio commentary : sound recordings, Box 8, Hoover Institution Archives.

Shaping the World for 100 Years to Come

September 1, 1976

In this election year many of us talk about the world of tomorrow but do we really think about it? I’ll be right back.

Sometimes it’s very easy to get very glib about how the decisions we are making will shape the world for a hundred years to come. Then A few weeks ago I found myself faced with having to really think about it. what we are doing today & what people (not history) people like ourselves will say about us.

I’d been asked to write a letter for a "time capsule" which would be opened in Los Angeles 100 yrs. from now. It will be The occasion will be the Los Angeles Bicentennial & of course our countrys tri-centennial. It was suggested that I mention some of the problems confronting us in this election year. Since I’ve been talking about those problems for about some 9 months that didn’t look like too much of a chore.

Ronald Reagan's Handwritten Page 1 Ronald Reagan's Handwritten Page 2

Ronald Reagan’s handwritten pages.

So riding down the coast highway from Santa Barbara–a yellow tablet on my lap (someone else was driving) I started to write my letter to the future.

It was a beautiful summer afternoon. The Pacific stretched out to the horizon on one side of the highway and on the other the Santa Ynez mt’s. were etched against a sky as blue as the Ocean.

I found myself wondering if it would look the same 100 yrs. from now. Will there still be a coast highway? Will people still be travelling in automobiles, or will they be looking down at the mountains from aircraft or moving so fast the beauty of all I saw this would be lost?

Suddenly the simple drafting of a letter became a rather complex chore. Think about it for a minute. What do you put in a letter that’s going to be read 100 yrs. from now–in the year 2076? What do you say about our problems when those who read the letter will alr know what we dont know–namely how well we did with those problems? In short they will be living in the world we helped to shape.

Will they read the letter with gratitude in their hearts for what we did or will they be bitter because miserable the heritage we left them was one of human misery?

Oh I wrote of the problems we face here in 1976–The choice we face between continuing the policies of the last 40 yrs. that have led to bigger & bigger govt, less & less liberty, redistribution of earnings through confiscatory taxation or trying to get back on the original course set for us by the Founding Fathers. Will we choose fiscal responsibility, limited govt, and freedom of choice for all our people? Or will we let an irresponsible Congress take the final set us on the road our English cousins have already taken? The road to ec. ruin and state control of our very lives?

On the international scene two great superpowers face each other with nuclear missiles at the ready–poised to bring Armageddon to the world.

Those who read my letter will know whether those missiles were fired or not. They Either they will be surrounded by the same beauty I knew as I wrote the letter we know or they will wonder sadly what it was like when the world was still beautiful. before that awful day when civilization broke down.

If we here in this election year of our Lord 1976 today meet the challenge confronting us,–those who open that time capsule in 2076 100 yrs. from now will do so in a place of beauty knowing peace, prosperity and the ultimate in personal freedom. consistent with an orderly, civilized society.

If we dont meet keep our rendezvous with destiny, the letter probably will never be read–because talk of individual freedom will not be permitted in that world 100 yrs. from now which we are shaping and they will live in the world which we had a hand in shaping and we left them, a world in which no one is allowed to read or hear such terms as of individual liberty or freedom of choice. & individual liberty.

Looking Out a Window

January 27, 1978

It’s nightfall in a strange town a long way from home. I’m watching the lights come on from my hotel room window on the 35th floor.

I’ll be right back.

I’m afraid you are in for a little bit of philosophizing if you dont mind. Some of these broadcasts have to be put together while I’m out on the road traveling what I call the mashed potato circuit. In a little while I’ll be speaking to a group of very nice people in a banquet hall.

Right now however I’m looking down on a busy city at rush hour. The streets below are two colored twin ribbons of sparkling red & white. The colored ones Tail lights on the cars moving away from my vantage point provide the red and the headlights of those on the opposite side of the street those coming toward me the white. It’s logical to assume all or most are homeward bound at the end of the a days work.

I wonder why some social engineer hasn’t tried to get them to trade homes. The traffic is equally heavy in both directions so if they all lived in the end of town where they worked it would save a lot of travel time. Forget I said that or & dont even think it or some burocrat will try do it.

But you I wonder about the people in those cars, who they are, what they do, what they are thinking about as they head for the warmth of home & family. Come to think of it I’ve met them–oh–maybe not those particular individuals but still I I feel I know them. Some of our social planners refer to them as "the masses" which only proves they dont know them. I’ve been privileged to meet people all over this land in the special kind of way you meet them when you are campaigning. They are not "the masses," They are individuals. or as the elitists would have it–"the common man." They are very uncommon. individuals who make this system work. Individuals each with his or her own hopes & dreams, plans & problems and the kind of quiet courage that makes this whole country run better than just about any other place on earth.

Now By now, thinking of their homecoming I’m counting how many more hotel room windows I’ll be looking out of before I’m in the rush hour traffic heading home. And yes I’m feeling a little sorry for myself and envious of the people in those cars down below. There have been It seems I’ve said a thousand goodbyes, each one harder than the one before.

Someone very wise once wrote that if we were all told one day that the end was coming; that we were living our last day, every road, every street & all the telephone lines would be jammed with people trying to reach someone to whom they we wanted simply to say, "I love you."

It seems kind of foolish to wait for such a final day dosen’t it? I’ll have to stop now–I have a phone call to make.

This is RR Thanks for listening.

But dosen’t it seem kind of foolish to wait for such a final day and take the chance of not getting there in time? And speaking of time I’ll have to stop now–I have to make a phone call. operator i’d like to make a phone call–long distance.

This is RR. Thanks for listening.

Free Enterprise

April 16, 1979

It isn’t unfair to say that today the world is divided between those who believe in the free mkt. place & those who believe in govt. control & ownership of the economy.

I’ll be right back.

Our free mkt. system is usually termed capitalism and by that definition capitalism has hardly been around long enough to deserve all the evil for which it is being held responsible.

Most of us aren’t really conscious of how recently the capitalist system came into being. Possibly we look back & think of the extravagant luxury of kings & emperors & see that as capitalism. We have a modern counterpart today in the rulers of Marxist nations. The ruling hierarchy of the Soviet U. live on a scale more akin to royalty than do the heads of capitalist countries.

Maybe our trouble is caused by the term capitalist itself. Actually all systems are capitalist. It’s just a matter of who owns & controls the capital–ancient king, dictator or private individual. We should properly be looking at the contrast between a free mkt. system where individuals have the right to live like kings if they can have the ability to earn that right and govt. control of the mkt. system such as we find today in socialist nations.

We have a very visible example of the contrast between the free mkt. & govt. ownership in a household necessity we take for granted. The invention of Alexander Graham Bell–the telephone offers us irrefutable proof of the superiority of the free mkt.

As recently as 1880 there were only 34,000 miles of telephone wires on the whole N. American Continent. There were dozens & dozens of small telephone companies using several different kinds of equipment and there was no inter-connection between these different count companies. The same situation prevailed in all the other so called advanced nations.

If someone had openly advanced a plan to put a phone in every home, on every farm, in every hamlet & city and hook them all together I’m sure someone would have said, "only govt. has the resources to do that."

Now strangely enough in most other countries govt. did take over the telephone system and to this very day the telephones in a great many countries are part of the postal system. In America the govt. wasn’t bulldozing it’s way into the free mkt. place as it is today. For that we can be grateful. The scattered, competing phone companies were left to the magic of the mkt. place. And that magic worked as it always does.

We take the phone so much for granted it’s hard to realize things weren’t always this way. We can dial directly to virtually any point in the world country and to a great many outside the country.

With int no intention of insulting anyone it I have to say it only takes a few days trip in many of those other countries to where the telephone is a govt. service to realize there is a difference. Getting A long distance call there can be quite an adventure–so can getting a phone installed.

But here we have them in our cars if we like, in private or corporation owned executive planes & on boats. We bounce long distance calls off privately owned satellites and use telephone lines for network radio & remote broadcasts of sporting & special events.

And all of this came about because private individuals wanting to make a profit for themselves kept thinking of better ways to serve us, services to offer, confident that we’d want that better service.

This is RR Thanks for listening.


Click on the images to view Ronald Reagan's handwritten pages.

October 25, 1979

. . . This is my final commentary.

I’m going to miss these visits with all of you. I’ve enjoyed every one. Even writing them has been a a lot of fun. I’ve scratched them out on a yellow tablet in airplanes, riding in cars, and at the ranch when the sun went down. W

Whenever I’ve told you about some mis-fortune befalling one of our fellow citizens you’ve opened your hearts & your pocketbooks and gone to the rescue. I know you have because the individuals you helped have written to let me know. You’ve done a great deal to strengthen my faith in this land of ours and it’s people. You are the greatest.

Sometime later today if you happen to catch me on television you’ll understand why I can no longer bring you these commentaries.

This is RR. and from the bottom of my heart–thanks for listening.

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