Henry Ross Perot / 1930–2019 / Texas, USA / Businessman, Founder and CEO of Electronic Data Systems, Third-Party US Presidential Candidate
Unless we take action now, our nation may confront a situation similar to the Great Depression and maybe even worse. Our economic growth has been sluggish for nearly two decades. The unemployment numbers remain depressing, while the Federal Reserve worries about inflation. . . .
In other words, our economy is perched on the edge of a cliff. Either we work together to climb back to safety, or we must brace ourselves for potential disaster. This book provides a plan to pull our nation back from the brink.Ross Perot, United We Stand: How We Can Take Back Our Country (1992).
The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.Widely cited; however, attribution unconfirmed.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
The institutions we depend on to preserve our financial security are shaky. If they fail, millions of people will be devastated. Banks are already weak. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which we as taxpayers guarantee, may incur liabilities greater than those from the recent Savings & Loan crisis.Ross Perot, United We Stand: How We Can Take Back Our Country (1992).
There’s only one way to fix it and that is to face the issue. I mean, if you’re in debt, you know what you’ve gotta do: you’ve gotta pay it, right?Interview with Bill Cork, President, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, April 7, 2015; video accessible at youtube.com.
See, here’s the sad thing. The newspapers and television make no effort at all to educate the American people on this, the most critical issue facing our country. If they would, then the American people would say “We’ve gotta fix it,” right? “We don’t have a choice, we have to fix it.” It’s kind of like the guy that drinks too much, you know? He’s gotta put a cork on the bottle. He’s gotta quit. We can’t stop spending, but we can cut it back to a rational level.Interview with Bill Cork, President, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, April 7, 2015; video accessible at youtube.com.
Perot on Perot
I was born on June 27, 1930, in the hospital [in Texarkana]. Outside it was 120 degrees. My dad walked in after I was born—I couldn’t remember this, but mother told me—and said: “Well, the devil must have come up to see his handiwork, it’s so hot outside.” That’s the way it all started.Interview with Bill Cork, President, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, April 7, 2015; video accessible at youtube.com.
All of my business training was at my father’s knee. I sat in his office and watched him deal with the farmers as a cotton broker.Television interview with Murphy Martin, “A Conversation with Ross Perot,” 1992; video accessible at youtube.com.
People have asked me over the years when I first felt rich. I’ve always said I was born rich. . . . We always saved money. We always got by. Everybody worked when I was a child.Television interview with Murphy Martin, “A Conversation with Ross Perot,” 1992; video accessible at youtube.com.
During the Depression, hobos coming [from] as far away as California would jump off the train there, come up a gravel road to our house, and knock on the door for food. And my mother would always give them food. And one time, one of the people said, “Lady, do you have a lot of people coming up here?” And she said, “Yes, I do.” He said, “Did you ever wonder why?” She said, “No.” He said, “Would you like me to show you?” She said, “Yes.” He showed her the mark on the curb. It meant, “This lady—they’ll give you food.” And—I’ll never forget—when he left I said, “Mother, do you want me to wash that off?” And she looked me in the eye, with no smile at all, and said, “No, son. These are people who are down on their luck, we need to help them.” Now that tells you the environment I grew up in.Interview with Bill Cork, President, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, April 7, 2015; video accessible at youtube.com.
Re: Perot’s wife Margot:
We had a blind date. I was immediately in love. Anybody who ever knows Margo immediately falls in love with her. . . . I had bigtime competition. . . . I talked her into marrying me.Television interview with Murphy Martin, “A Conversation with Ross Perot,” 1992; video accessible at youtube.com.
I’ve got plenty to work on all day, so I have to come in early and work hard. I’ve got a wife and four daughters, so i have to work hard to stay even, David.Telephone interview with David Letterman, Late Night with David Letterman, NBC, April 21, 1992; video accessible at youtube.com.
I was Texas born and Texas bred, and Texarkana raised, and when I die, I’ll be Texas dead.Interview with Bill Cork, President, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, April 7, 2015; video accessible at youtube.com.
This book is dedicated to the millions of volunteers who accomplished the seemingly impossible task of getting the petitions signed. You did it brilliantly.
You changed American politics in just five months.
You made it clear that the people, not the special interests, own this country.
Everyone in Washington now understands that the American people own this country, have reasserted their roles as owners, and want the country’s problems addressed and solved.
The creativity, ingenuity, and focused dedication to this task are unique in American politics.
The founders of our government must be looking down from heaven, smiling on all of you.Ross Perot, United We Stand: How We Can Take Back Our Country (1992).
Presidential Campaign of 1992
I love the American people and I am sure that you do, too. I owe them a debt I can never repay and so do you. Today, their Government is a mess, and they want it fixed. By joining together as the owners of this great country, they can solve these problems.
As I’ve said before, it is time to clean out the barn—join us—pick up a shovel. Get to work!Speech; reported in “How Stupid Do They Think We Are?,” New York Times, August 30, 1992; accessible at nytimes.com.
Few people in this country have been able to live the American Dream to the extent that I have. . . . Neither political party has effectively addressed the issues that concern the American people. . . . The American people are good, but they have a government that is a mess.News conference, October 1, 1992; video accessible at cspan.com.
Re: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):
If I’m poor and you’re rich, and I can get you to defend me that’s good. But when the tables get turned, I would do my share. Right now we spend about $300 billion dollars a year on defense, the Japanese spend around $30 billion in Asia, the Germans spend about $30 billion in Europe. For example, Germany will spend about a trillion dollars building infrastructure over the next 10 years. That’s kinda easy to do if you don’t have to pick up a $30 billion dollar tab to defend your country. The European community is in a position to pay a lot more then they have in the past. . . . Now that they can, they should.Presidential debate, 1992.
Re: North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):
We’ve shipped millions of jobs overseas and we have a strange situation because we have a process in Washington where after you’ve served for a while you cash in and become a foreign lobbyist, make $30,000 a month; then take a leave, work on Presidential campaigns, make sure you got good contacts, and then go back out. Now if you just want to get down to brass tacks, the first thing you ought to do is get all these folks who’ve got these one-way trade agreements that we’ve negotiated over the years and say, “Fellows, we’ll take the same deal we gave you.” And they’ll gridlock right at that point because, for example, we’ve got international competitors who simply could not unload their cars off the ships if they had to comply—you see, if it was a two-way street—just couldn’t do it. We have got to stop sending jobs overseas.Presidential debate, 1992; transcript accessible at nytimes.com.
Re: North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):
We have got to stop sending jobs overseas. It’s pretty simple: If you’re paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory South of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor, . . . have no health care—that’s the most expensive single element in making a car—have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don’t care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south. . . . When jobs [in Mexico] come up from a dollar an hour to six dollars an hour, and ours go down to six dollars an hour, then it’s leveled again. But in the meantime, you’ve wrecked the country with these kinds of deals.Presidential debate, 1992; transcript accessible at nytimes.com.
Something in human nature causes us to start slacking off at our moment of greatest accomplishment. As you become successful, you will need a great deal of self-discipline not to lose your sense of balance, humility and commitment.Widely cited; however, attribution unconfirmed.