Thank you, Alan, and good afternoon, everyone. What a great privilege it is to be in our nation's capital today to address the National Press Club. I can't help but notice that a lot of folks are enjoying our beverages with your lunch today -- so let me just begin by thanking you for your business! And President Obama, if you're listening by chance on Public Radio or watching live on C-span, I know from press reports that many of the soft drinks of choice in the White House are produced by Coca-Cola. That's a policy position I certainly endorse and appreciate. I have been looking forward to this engagement at the Press Club for quite some time. As someone who has spent the vast majority of his career traveling to markets around the world for Coca-Cola, I have seen, first-hand, the correlation between the strength of a nation and the strength of its press. That's no more so true than right here in America. In fact, you could say I owe my career to a strong American press. Over 32 years ago, I was reading a newspaper in New York and stumbled upon a classified ad for an entry level position with The Coca-Cola Company. It looked intriguing, so I responded and sent in my resume. I'm glad I did -- I'm living proof that classified ads really do work! When I first went to work for Coca-Cola in the late 70s, the mood in America was pretty somber and anxious. Fuel prices were spiking. A recession was draining our confidence. There was widespread fear that we were losing our global political and economic leadership. Many people feared that a surging Japan would cripple American industry, jobs and the U.S. economy. Even greater numbers of people were worried about their jobs being replaced by technology. There were many striking parallels to the situation we find ourselves in today. But the system didn't collapse, did it? In fact, America got stronger... much stronger... and that's because this great nation did what it has always done best -- America innovated and reinvented itself. And we can learn from history -- the past is indeed prologue. In the process of innovating and creating a technology and service-driven economy, America replaced 40 million antiquated jobs with 80 million new high-paying and high-skilled jobs between 1980 and 2000. In those two decades, we witnessed a unique creation of new wealth and ideas -- all because of innovation and tax policies that promote growth and investment. All because of the entrepreneurial spirit and vitality of a nation that cultivates diverse cultures... and people... and points of view. I believe it's the same formula -- the same antidote -- that will ultimately solve our current problems. For the record, I should say I am an unabashed optimist. And I work for a company that is unabashedly optimistic. We learned this trait from America itself. For the last 124 years, Coca-Cola has grown up right beside America. We have reinvented and renewed ourselves countless times, just like this great nation. Now, I realize that being an optimistic Baby Boomer is not exactly in vogue at the moment. In fact, USA Today published a report two weeks ago that cited that two-thirds of Baby Boomers were less optimistic about the future of the U.S. than they were when they turned 21. I certainly understand the anxiety and frustration that exists out there today. The past two years of economic plight have been tough -- brutally tough. Families have suffered. Communities have suffered. Too many jobs have been lost and too much wealth has vanished. I also believe, though, that our darkest days have passed. We're beginning to see the first rays of light through that long dark tunnel. If we muscle through, I believe we're not only going to see a return to pre-2008 economic conditions, but we're also going to witness potentially unprecedented levels of growth and prosperity in the years ahead. On the day I started my role as CEO of The Coca-Cola Company in 2008, I asked Warren Buffett to come talk to...
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