Tuesday, September 26, 2006

George W Bush wows the New York Public Library

President and Mrs. Bush Attend White House Conference on Global Literacy
New York Public Library
New York, New York

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you for attending this important conference. I look around the room and see some familiar faces -- my mother. (Laughter.) How are you doing? It's good to see you. My mother-in-law. (Laughter.) Both of these ladies have instilled a great passion for literacy not only in Laura and me, but for others around our country. Thank you all for coming. Laura, thank you for your leadership

As you probably can tell, our government takes this initiative seriously. After all, we've got the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and the Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, both here. It should say to people loud and clear that, when you combine the resources of the Department of Education and the State Department, that we're serious about helping global literacy. And then we've added Randy Tobias, who's the head of USAID. He's the fellow who's got the responsibility of handing out some money -- (laughter) -- which is what we're doing, because we believe strongly in this initiative. So I want to thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to send a clear message to folks.

I mean, think about it, it's pretty clear; in order to be an informed consumer you have to read. In order to be able to take advantages of jobs that may come to your country as a result of expanding economic opportunity, you've got to read. In order to be a productive worker, you have to be able to read the manual. And so part of this initiative, part of the practical application of this initiative is to encourage prosperity by enhancing people's capacity to read. And I want to thank you for your focus on that important issue.

But one thing that's for certain: It is very hard to have free societies if the citizens cannot read. Think about that. It's much harder for a society to realize the universal blessings of liberty if your citizens can't read the newspaper in order to be able to make informed choices and decisions about what may be taking place in a country. You can't realize the blessings of liberty if you can't read a ballot, or if you can't read what others are saying about the future of your country.

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