Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Combined Fund Drive Leadership Breakfast
September 10, 1997
I want to begin by making a prediction:
Contributions to this year's Combined Fund Drive will go up.
They will go up because cynicism has gone down.
What we don't know - and what the people in this room can influence - is how much contributions will go up.
I want to help by offering you three new reasons why state employees should be inspired to renew and enlarge their commitment to this annual endeavor.
The first reason is welfare reform.
Giving more to the Combined Fund Drive is welfare reform.
And here's why:
At both the national and state level, the successful passage of welfare reform legislation marked a historic change in this nation's values.
Welfare reform is an expression of the value we place on work, and a clear statement that everyone who can work ought to.
But welfare reform is also an expression of the public's belief that it was a mistake to shift so much of the responsibility for the care of those in need to the government, and to take so little responsibility for it ourselves.
For sixty years, conventional wisdom had held that we could use government entitlements as the primary instrument to create a kind society.
But in the course of those sixty years, it gradually became evident that government was a clumsy and expensive substitute for the old-fashioned safety net of relatives, neighbors, friends, religious groups and local non-profit organizations.
Eventually, we discovered that making government the first resort for people in need had actually made us less kind.
So now we have made government the last resort again.
We have said, in effect, that the responsibility for reducing poverty and helping those in need rests on all our shoulders.
And that means we have to follow through, and recognize that if we want government to do less, citizens simply must do more.
President Clinton acknowledged this fact when he said that since the era of big government is over, the era of the big citizen must begin.
Giving more to the Combined Fund Drive is a way for all of us to be big citizens, to help welfare reform succeed, and to create the kind of compassionate society we want to live in.
And that brings me to the second reason to give more this year:
It's fashionable these days to talk about the magic of the marketplace.
And it's true that the entrepreneurial energy of America is one of the great wonders of the world.
But the marketplace can also be callous and unfeeling.
Market forces cause corporate employees to be downsized.
Market forces have devastated our timber communities, excluded our rural areas from the economic winners' circle, and caused a growing gap between the rich and the poor.
To protect our families and communities from irreparable harm, market forces just have to be balanced by moral forces.
Efficiency must be balanced by compassion.
We cannot - and should not - try to impede the relentless economic efficiency of free enterprise.
But we can - and we must - mitigate the human misery that can result from that relentless efficiency.
The best way to do that is to build the human infrastructure of mutual aid, educational opportunity, and civic investment that helps people and communities be resilient and resourceful.
And the Combined Fund Drive is an immense part of the counterweight that keeps these moral objectives in balance with market forces.
The third reason for all of us to give more this year is that doing so fosters the moral renewal of America.
For many years, polls have reported a growing concern about the decline of moral values, of family unity, and of just plain neighborly good will.
Now there is a new sense that this decline can and must be reversed.
And more and more Americans are coming home to the core values of service to others, respect for our elders, and sacrifice for our children.
This does not represent either a turn to the left or a turn to the right.
It represents a step forward - a step towards creating a society that recognizes our common humanity, our common fallibility, and our common obligation to take care of each other and the earth that sustains us all.
It represents a recognition that the way to create a great society is one citizen at a time, one family at a time, and one community at a time.
The Combined Fund Drive embodies this spirit of moral renewal.
Every individual act of giving is a testament to this renaissance of personal responsibility for the moral micro-climate each of us creates in our own homes, our own neighborhoods, and our own workplaces.
And all of our contributions together add up to something even our best budget analysts can never quantify: a sense of moral purpose that gives meaning to our lives.
To sum up, these are my three reasons for asking every state employee to give more this year:
- to succeed in reducing poverty and reforming welfare;
- to keep moral forces and market forces in balance;
- and to participate in a national renewal of our most cherished values.
I am sure that each of you can add to this list.
Truly, there are as many reasons to support the Combined Fund Drive as there are people in the state of Washington.
This drive is an expression of who we are, what we stand for, and where we are going.
It is a chance to show the world that state employees share an ethic of public service that extends far beyond the hours of eight to five.
And it's our annual opportunity to encourage all our co-workers to do their part to make Washington a great place to live, work and raise a family.
Thank you very much.