Address at the Americans for Democratic Action Dinner, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

February 24, 1967


Philadelphia, PA

The wondrous production machine which has made us richer, as we count, than any people in history, within which we all find sustenance and support is a business economy—which is to say, that most Americans are engaged in some form of business—indeed, that Coolidge was accurate, if not particularly edifying, when he said that ‘the business of America is business’. Yet we know that in a survey last year, only 12 percent of all graduating college seniors hoped for a career in business, or thought such a career would be worthwhile and satisfying. Part of the answer, surely, is that the great corporations which are so large a part of American life, play so small a role in the solution of its vital problems . . . Of course, it may well be argued that the business of business is to make a profit, that to attempt more is to do less than its stockholders deserve. But does such an argument have relevance, ask the young, when a single company, like General Motors or American Telephone and Telegraph, has annual profits greater than the gross national product of any one of seventy nations in the world?