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, Illinois August 9, 2012
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John Engler, president of Business Roundtable [moderator] Douglas R. Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO, Caterpillar Inc. Edward B. Rust, Jr.. Chairman & CEO, State Farm Insurance Companies
Doug Oberhelman: For some reason, and I don't know how it's happened -- we've talked a lot about this, Ed [Rust] and I, and a lot of business people -- the country that was built on private entrepreneurs and business now for the most part hates that society and resents it or... I'm not quite sure what. And we have an obligation in business, because some of the bad apples in business have really contributed to a bad reputation for business, and we've all got to watch that and clean that up. But having said that, I don't know how that's turned, really in my lifetime, where you were a businessman, a hardware store owner, a car dealer, a State Farm agent -- [you were] a pillar of the community. And today, that's changed so much. We've really got to watch that, because we have competitors out there all the time. And to your point about the contentious relationship between business and government, I don't really see it elsewhere in where I go. We are welcomed in many other places, and today, we're welcomed here in many places, but it's a different attitude. Businesses has an obligation, it's not everybody else's fault on this. But business, we have an obligation to step up and really be ethical and do the right thing. But somehow I think that dialogue has to change, and maybe we have to lead it if we should. John Engler: That's a good point to end on here. Many of the states out here - where actually the relationship that was mentioned -- are very business friendly and very professional, and I think that's what needs to happen [at the national level]. It is the case in other countries, I've heard this repeatedly. It's a bigger challenge in Washington today. But everything's a big challenge in Washington. It seems like even little things are big challenges. I think the energy and the inventiveness and the innovativeness coming out of the states has the potential to be transformative. So I close this with: I think we've been given good guidance today, some good conversation from both Ed and Doug, and I very much appreciate your participation here.
I just want to say to everyone that we're anxious to work with you, but you keep up the good work because it is something that serves as a good example, allows us to challenge people at the national level to replicate that for that nation. We're still a country that can send a rocket all the way to Mars now and land something on the planet's surface. If we can do that, we can do amazing things, but we ought to be able figure out how put our people to work, to put this country about the business of solving problems.