Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Who built this city…

Charlotte 2012

In a few days, more than 35,000 people are expected to fill the Charlotte region for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.  Our hotels will be filled and Lake Norman businesses are excited about the prospects of getting a boost in sales.  When asked recently what I thought of the national convention held in our backyard, I replied, “For the Chamber, it isn’t about being a red state or blue…at least for the weeks ahead, Lake Norman’s water’s will be green!”  Anyway you look at it, the exposure, attention, and spending will be great for the Charlotte region and our local economy.

Those who know me, and most of you do, know that I love politics.  While a conservative, I am just as much an admirer of Bobby and John Kennedy as I am of Lee Atwater. When you get right down to it, politics is about relationships and the art of the deal – the essence of business.  So it is perhaps only natural I have a love and fascination for both.

In late July, one of our own local business members made national news reacting to the words of President Obama.  In a speech, President Obama said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that…”  Rion Homes President, and Lake Norman Chamber member, Nicole Goolsby pointed out – “Yes she did!”  Nicole responded she took out a $15,000 loan on her credit card and set up a desk in her bedroom 12 years ago.  From there Nicole built a solid business and gave back to the industry by serving as the president of the Lake Norman Home Builders Association.

Nicole was one of literally hundreds who responded with their story.  America is built on entrepreneurship, small business, and hard work. If I added a “PS” to any of their statements it would be government doesn’t solve economic problems.  People and businesses will if government simply gets out of the way.

The President indeed said those words. However, he actually said more than that.  He had begun the conversation by saying there are a great many successful people but you didn’t get there on your own.  If you read the context of his speech in its entirety, he wasn’t trying to take away from the small business owner or entrepreneur.

Bill Russell addressing participants in Junior Leadership Lake Norman – High School Juniors, our future community and business leaders

A sentence lost in his speech that he actually said was, “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have… that allowed you to thrive.”  It’s unfortunate we live in an age when people take words out of context, lift one or two sentences from a speech – disregarding others, or read into letters or emails their own interpretation offering their unique and often biased spin.

Within days of the President’s speech, parodies were made on the old Jefferson Starship song “We built this city.” Those of us who remember the classic 1985 song, might also remember a verse that said, “Don’t tell us you need us, ‘cos we’re the ship of fools – Looking for America, coming through your schools.”

The political season and sometimes politics in general brings out the ship of fools in many of us.  Let’s hope the kids in school now don’t allow us to be their mentors in how best to govern. Perhaps they will take note on how to do a better job when its their turn at the helm.

Lost in all that hoopla was the President’s closing line – “We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people… You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”

Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, Red or Blue – that’s at least one thing we should all agree on.  Together we built this city and we’re all in it together!

August 31, 2012 - Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Politics | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Dear Mr. Russell,

    while I admire many of your writings and output, I was surprised by this general statement you make in your post:

    ” […] government doesn’t solve economic problems. People and businesses will if government simply gets out of the way. ”

    When it comes to subjects such as the preservation of the environment, the biologic health of ecosystems, humanitarian efforts, all the way to capital ratios of financial institutions, the profit motive and innate short-term orientation of “people and businesses” are primary drivers to the destruction of same systems…. not immediately, but over time. Just think Amazon forest, tsunami relief efforts and financial crisis, to name two of a plethora of available examples.

    Governing bodies are necessary to regulate standards, set expectations and create/ build systems that have lasting positive impacts on the development of society and humankind. Do governing bodies have internal problems? Sure, plenty.

    I am a business man, I am a capitalist, I am financially conservative and socially best described as “humanist”.

    With all due respect, making a generalized statement that the solution would be for “government simply [to get] out of the way” appears not only short-sighted and over-simplistic, but most notably as a derivative of a certain political narrative of our times based in neoliberal economic theory that is proven to have an array of serious economic, social and cultural boundaries and shortcomings.

    On a personal note, I appreciate you putting your thoughts into writing for everyone to read. Only those who don’t share their thoughts won’t evoke reactions.

    With gratitude and kind regards.

    Comment by Alexander Klaus | September 2, 2012 | Reply

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