Ronald Reagan Quote about Layoffs

I’m looking for information on something Reagan supposedly said. I’ve been told he said (paraphrasing) that the layoffs in the steel industry in the early 80s were the price of capitalism.

I’d like to know if he said this, what the quote is, and when he said it.

I’ve tried repeatedly but I can neither confirm nor deny, and I was hoping that one of the teeming millions might be familiar with this. When I search for it I get lots of articles about Reagan’s economic policies, but it seems like my wording isn’t close enough to get me there.


Here’s something I found at the website of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It’s an excerpt from his remarks at the National Conference on Dislocated Workers, April 6, 1983, Pittsburgh, PA.

(…) You know, I receive all kinds of letters from our unemployed citizens. Some are full of pain and a loss of self-respect. Some are determined and hopeful. Some are confused and angry. But I think the most perplexed are those letters from displaced workers. Most of these men and women have been in one industry, if not one company, for the better part of their working lives. The mill or the plant had always been open, perhaps even since their father’s or their grandfather’s day, and they assumed it would always be that way. Their employers represented America’s strength and vitality as an economic power. How could the major employer in the town, the very lifeblood of the town, close its gates and lock its doors? This was as inconceivable as the town itself closing down.

But we know the plant can close no matter how essential it is to the employees and the townspeople. We know that America’s economic strengths change and grow in different directions, sometimes without regard to the people who serve the old industries. This is called the free market, and it’s what gives our children and their children an economic future.

There’s more documentation of Reagan’s trip to Pittsburgh on that site, but I’m only seeing sound recordings without transcripts — some news interviews and Q&A sessions. Possible leads.

Thanks a lot- I suspect that’s the quote that was being alluded to.

I think saying that Reagan said layoffs are the price of capitalism, even as a paraphrase, is probably a bit of a bridge too far. But the sentiment is certainly there.

It’s pretty close to the economic theory of creative destruction, which says (I’m simplifying) that new economic models destroy the old ones. IMHO it’s a defensible school of thought, but pretty damned tone deaf for a politician to boil down to a one-sentence remark for people who saw their towns’ major employers suddenly shut down…

I think it was in Roger and Me that there was some story about Reagan suggesting people just up and move when they have layoffs or plant closures, like on the wagon trains in a rerun of Death Valley Days.

He didn’t. The whole next paragraph is about how we owe it to the people who built America to retrain them and support them. He sounds like Biden. Its wild.

Wild it is indeed. We’re probably not suppose to discuss politics in FQ, but the difference between Reagan’s speaking style and the Republicans’ of the last 6 years is stunning.

Unless someone wants to come along and disabuse me of the notion (a phrase that always sounds dirty to me), I’m confident that the quote provided by Baal_Houtham is what I was looking for.

To the extent that the OP has any say, I’m fine with it if this (d)evolves into a political discussion.