Russell’s Ramblings

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

The Politics of Business

Russell thoughts 1Tip O’Neil, the 55th Speaker of the House and perhaps one of the most influential members of the United States Congress once said, “All politics is local.” He coined the phrase in a 1992 Congressional campaign running against an attorney who was heavily financed with out of state campaign contributions. What O’Neil was referring to was the principles that a politician’s success is directly linked to his or her ability to understand fully and influence the issues of their constituents.

The last few weeks and the week ahead will see a flurry of campaigning for local office and school board by both incumbents wishing to hold onto their seats and newcomers looking for an opportunity to serve. This year’s town boards are quite competitive with perhaps the most ever seeking an opportunity to represent their community.

The last local election could have been seen as a referendum on I-77 as tolls at Lake Norman figured prominently into the debate. There is no question that transportation – whether they are state roads or under local control – are critical in the minds of voters.

The Chamber has aggressively advocated for the cancellation of the Cintra Contract and moving forward with general purpose lanes since we adopted a Resolution calling for that action in June of 2015.

At a recent trip to my dentist, he pointed out I-77 has significantly impacted his business as they almost daily have to shuffle appointments from patients who are caught in traffic. Those of course are  patients who choose to reschedule!Reagan

This election cycle, voters in Mecklenburg County will decide the fate of a $922 million Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond. As I write this article, your Chamber Board has not taken a position on the Bonds and may not.

As business leaders, we understand that education – public and private – is the foundation of our economic and business development. Our schools provide our workforce and the future generation which will inherit our communities tomorrow.

One of my favorite politicians of all time was Ronald Reagan. I met Reagan when I was National President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).

It is well documented that Speaker O’Neil and President Reagan were constantly at odds. O’Neil said Reagan was the most ignorant man who ever occupied the White House and “a cheerleader for selfishness.” In his memoirs, the Speaker was asked about the attacks on the President and how the two seemed to remain friends. O’Neil commented, “Before 6:00 pm it’s all politics.”

Reagan himself once quipped, “If you’re afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.”

Our economy seems to be doing quite well and I believe our citizens are ready to get moving again. The businesses of Lake Norman have looked to the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce for 30 years to help create jobs and provide an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and business development.

The bottom line is we as business, community, and elected leaders cannot go back and change any mistakes that were made yesterday but we can create a brand new beginning. A change that begins with us, one person and one community at a time. It is the charge we have from our past and the responsibility we owe to the future.

Bill Russell

This column was written originally for the October Lake Norman Chamber Splash Newsletter and appeared as a Guest Column in the October 4th issue issue of the Lake Norman Citizen Newspaper (Page 32), Photo taken at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) Portland Oregon, June 1992.

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October 30, 2017 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), Politics, Transportation & Road Improvement, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

McDonald’s isn’t a hap, hap, happy place for the Food Gestapo

Ronald

To paraphrase the words of Ronald Wilson Reagan, “There they go again!”  Whether it’s the speech police or the antics of the Health Gestapo, the fast food fringe fanatics are winding up their little hysteria and this time have their sights set on none other than Ronald McDonald.  Yep, the loveable red haired clown has become Public Enemy #1 by the self appointed purveyors of public health.   Last week, representatives from the advocacy group Corporate Accountability International attended a shareholder’s meeting for McDonalds, and requested that poor Ronald be given his honorary gold watch.  They weren’t real sure how to package the golden arches. David Klinger, a retired Chicago physician represented the left winged loonies proclaiming “Ronald McDonald is a pied piper drawing youngsters all over the world to food that is high in fat, sodium, and calories.”

Kid you not!  I almost strangled on my Krispy Kreme donut reading this drivel in the newspaper. Klinger added, “On the surface Ronald is there to give children enjoyment in all sorts of way with toys, games, and food.  But Ronald McDonald is dangerous, sending insidious messages to young people.”   You have to be kidding me!  I think Klinger and his battalion of bumpkins might actually be the dangerous ones.  I’m not sure if this dudes’ any relation to the MASH Klinger or not but he’s certainly well on his way to his own section eight.

Mr. Clean

I didn’t say anything when the urban legend got started about Mr. Clean.  I figure any guy running around dressed in all white sporting an earring in his left ear is probably asking for it. Nor did I shed a tear when the Health Gestapo went after Joe Camel and strung up his buddy the Marlboro Man.   Although I did get a little annoyed when they questioned whether the Lucky Charms elf really had magical powers. Certainly he does and his little charms are magically delicious – we all know that!

But I draw the line in the mustard when they go after Ronald.  Ronald McDonald is not just a fast food mascot or a nifty little branding icon.  To many children throughout the world, he is a symbol of hope when many face a world seemingly filled with hopelessness. His house, any Ronald McDonald House, is a place where the parents of children in a nearby hospital can stay for a reduced price or even a small donation.

In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility conducted by Nye Lavalle & Associates.  The study showed that Ronald McDonald House was ranked as the 2nd “most popular charity/non-profit in America” of over 100 charities researched.
When I was president of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) in 1992-1993, the Ronald McDonald House was one of the leading projects for which our Junior Chamber Chapters conducted fund raising projects.  Jaycees were, and still are, enthusiastic about raising funds for a charity in which 83 cents of every dollar is spent to fund programs globally. For nearly 35 years, Ronald McDonald House Charities have been creating, funding, and supporting programs that directly improve the health and well being of nearly four million children worldwide every year.

Last week, McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner told the corporate accountability group to get a life. Well, maybe he didn’t say it in quite those terms.  But he did state when confronted by Klinger and his merry little band of dumb dwiddles, would McDonalds retire the 50-year old clown, “The answer is no.”  Good for you Skinner!   It’s time Corporate America stood up to these fringe groups. If I want to “Biggie Size it” get off my back. Quit trying to remove the calories from my Breyers Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream and lay off Tony the Tiger.   Better yet, take your greedy paws off my trans fats! Personally I think the whole world would be better with a little sweet iced tea, barbecue pork, and a few hush puppies on the side. Oh, and bring on the ‘nanna puddin’.

Now that I can rest easy that the world is again tilted back on its axis and the curmudgeons of crazy town are scampering back to the mushrooms from which they hide, I can get back to my rendezvous with Little Debbie.  We have a standing date every night at ten. And baby can she bake a mean oatmeal cake!

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Social Causes | , , , , | 1 Comment

When Character was King

ReaganOne of my all time favorite books is “When Character was King” written by Peggy Noonan.  Peggy was a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and she details some of the values which Reagan held dear.  Whether you agree or not with the “Gipper’s” political views,  few can dispute his sense of personal, business, and political ethics.  Unfortunately, not everybody demonstrates a high regard for ethics.  There are those who fudge just a bit on their resumes alleging to have the education, training, or experience they do not possess.  Others may try to trade off the success of another business, purporting to be something they are not. 

We have all probably had the experience of reading an ad in the paper for a product and service only to find out when we show up, they have just sold that last widget but they have something just as good for a little more.  Deceptive marketing, fraudulent claims, and embellished resumes are nothing new but they do carry a heavy price tag and sooner or later those lapses in ethical judgment come back to haunt those who practice them.

Last night, I was watching the Tennis Channel.  I’m simply amazed at all the cable channels now targeting certain sports markets.  There was a rematch of a Jimmy Connors – John McEnroe U.S. Open from 1984.  Both of them went at each other like warriors.  After watching the tournament and getting ready for bed, my mind raced back to another tournament –  perhaps forgotten by many of those who watched it – the quarter finals of the Rome Masters in 2005.

Andy Roddick was playing Fernando Verdasco.  Roddick was leading 5-3 in the second set and had a triple match point when the second serve of Verdasco appeared to go long.  The line judge ruled the ball out but Roddick said the ball was in after checking the mark left on the clay.  Verdasco was given an ace and then the Spaniard seemed to catch the momentum closing out the serve, then the set, and later the match.

Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick

As an avid football fan, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen players make spectacular catches, jumping up with excitement, only to show on the replay the ball had bounced on the ground first.  Roddick demonstrated a level of sportsmanship that is sorely missing in athletics.  His gesture was something we could all learn from in a business world lacking in honesty and integrity.  Quite frankly, it’s refreshing to see someone in the public eye demonstrate that type of behavior.  I’ve always been told a person’s character is revealed by how they act when they think no one is looking.  Too often, we do not take time to recognize the people who demonstrate ethical behavior.  Like Reagan, Roddick may have lost his match but he walked off the court a winner and served up an ace with fans around the world.

It was a day when we witnessed more than a tennis match.  It was a day when character was once again king.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Leadership Lessons | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten Outstanding Young Americans Speech 1993

United States Junior Chamber of Commerce
Ten Outstanding Young Americans Banquet
Address by W.E. “Bill” Russell, 73rd President
January 15, 1993 – Tulsa, Oklahoma

United States Jaycees: How does it feel to grow again as an organization?  In December, I asked you to accept the challenge…to grow as an organization for the first time in two years.  We set a goal of +350 people and asked thirty five states to make their goals a reality.  You answered the challenge and exceeded it with 38 states and a net growth for the organization of +466.  Four states achieved Century Club status with a growth of 100 or more members.  For the first time in a very long time we can say that the Junior Chamber of Commerce grew as an organization.  And you made that happen.  It feels good doesn’t it?

However, our job is far from complete.  Our organization  .. this nation needs us more than ever before.  America’s young people are the bread and butter of this country.  Our TOYA honorees are a testament to that fact.  We are the people – 21 to 39 – who are making America work.  We are the car buyers, the house builders, the tax payers.  We are the leaders in training.  We are the down payment on the future of this country.  Think for a moment what this country would not have it were not for the Junior Chamber.  We would not have many of the community parks for our children to play in; we would not have many of this country’s soup kitchens.

We would not have trained leaders like Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George

Marc Buoniconti 1993 TOYA Honoree

Marc Buoniconti 1993 TOYA Honoree

 Bush, and Bill Clinton – all of which were Jaycees.  Dominos Pizza, started by former Jaycee Tom Monaghan,  might not exist today.  There would not have been a Flight of the Spirit of St. Louis, sponsored by Jaycee Charles Lindbergh and the St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce.  There would not be Junior Chamber Chapters in 109 countries and we would not be honoring this weekend some of the best and brightest young people in America.

We are an important demographic of people in this country and its time young people had a voice in their future.  The AARP lobbies for the rights of seniors.  Now it is time young people have an organization to lobby for us in terms of health care, legal reform, education, and the environment.  And that organization is the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.  We’re on a roll and we’re ready to rock.

We can do whatever we choose to do.  You have proven that during the past 73 years.  We are coming into Junior Chamber Week across America.  It is time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future.  During the summer, I like many of you watched the Summer Olympics.  I will never forget the 400 meters semi-final race of the Barcelona games.  Britain’s Derek Redmond was in the backstretch some 200 meters from the end when he collapsed on the track with a torn right ham string. 

The crowd looked on in disbelief.  Injuries are, of course, common in Olympic Games where men and women are performing at their peak.  What the crowd saw on this day was quite uncommon.  They saw Olympic valor and raw determination.  As medical attendants were approaching, Redmond fought to his feet pushing the Olympic trainers to the side.  Later he would say, “It was out of animal instinct.”  With tears of pain streaming down his face, he set out in a quest to finish the race he had started.  When he reached the stretch, a large man in a T-shirt came out of the stands, hurled aside a security guard and ran to Redmond embracing him.  This was Jim Redmond, Derek’s father.

Dereck and Jim Redmond

Dereck and Jim Redmond

“You don’t have to do this,” he told his weeping son.  “Yes I do,” replied Derek.  “Well then,” said his dad, “Well do it together.”  And so they did.  Fighting off security men, the son’s head sometimes buried in his father’s shoulder.  They stayed in Derek’s lane to the end as the crowd gasped, then rose, and then cried.  They recognized true courage and sheer determination.. .. that thing we Jaycees call “Commitment.”

Our Jaycee year is in the homestretch.  Some us feel injured.  Some of us hurt.  We feel we have given everything we could but it does not matter because we can never win the race.  But you can win the race – the race that is inside you.  You can lie on the track and wait for someone to take you away before the next race begins – the next state officer takes over.  Or you can be like the great Olympian and get up and finish the race as hard as you can.  And I’ll tell you what my Jaycee career has taught me.  When you start working to finish something…giving it all you have – People will cheer.  And more importantly, they’ll join in.

Last month we set our goal and together, working hard we achieved it.  Late one night last month I was in my office writing postcards to some of you.  Thanking you for your special effort – reaching past the limits many thought possible.  Everyone had long gone home.  Just the picture of our founder Henry Giessenbier hanging on the wall for company.

A song came on the radio –  a song that made me think of what little time we had left, but so much still left to do.  The singer say’s he’s in a hurry to get things done, he rushes around till life’s no fun.  He’s in a hurry and doesn’t know why.  He say’s all he’s really got to do, like so many people in America “is just live and die.”  But as he starts to think about it, he realizes why…you see he’s on a roll and he’s ready to rock. 

There’s so much more to life than just sitting back watching people be successful around you.  He starts to pick up the pace, because he’s in his race…there’s no room for second place.  State presidents and officers, district and regional directors…Junior Chamber leaders we all must run as fast as we can…when your people see you, they’ll want join in.

It is time for out gutsiest performance.  It’s time we realize the goals we set earlier in the year.  Each of us made a commitment to leave this organization better off than when we took over and it will take real courage to make the decisions which need to made over the next few months.  We cannot afford to look the other way in our challenges, we must meet them head on and overcome them.  For our Jaycee Chapters to make the impact we need to make in our communities, for our members to develop and mature we must put into play an aggressive public relations campaign, getting our message across into the hands of the major television and radio markets.

Our Jaycee Magazine must be expanded and given real substance, providing information  which will be beneficial to our membership. A governmental affairs area needs to be created so our voice can be heard across this country and in Washington DC.  Field reps and qualified trainers must be sent out in greater numbers to train our state and local officers.  A Foundation program needs to be put into place to give our chapters grants – opportunities to once again build the community parks, carry out the projects, and make the difference in our communities we once did.

Our generation of Jaycees must prepare for the future.  We must have the courage to make the decisions we need to and return this organization to national prominence…and I’m asking you to be a part of that change.  John F. Kennedy said, Change is the law of life and those who only look to the past or present are sure to miss the future.”  Let us embrace our challenges…take advantage of our opportunities and like the great Olympian, finish the race we started.

Listening to the Alabama song, I understood the message (Begin Audio: choice00012Alabama song I’m in a Hurry faintly in the background and rising).  United States Jaycees there are only 105 days left in this Junior Chamber year.  We’re in a hurry to get things done and as the leadership of this great organization, we know why!  Together, let us gather in Greensboro, North Carolina at our Annual Meeting.  Having given everything we had.  Let us push for our members to be their absolute best and let us do it because…

We would settle for nothing less!  Good luck Jaycees.  God bless each of you and God bless the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , | Leave a comment

Why I am a Republican

The time was 1992 and in the town of Vienna, Virginia, the newspapers ran a photo of a group of people held at bay by armed guards.  That may not sound that unusual, but these were not rioters or protestors.  They were Christmas carolers.  You see, the town of Vienna had outlawed the singing of religious songs on public property.  So, the men, women, and children had to sing “Silent Night” behind barricades.  It sounds much like Eastern Europe under communist rule instead it is the country built on freedom of religion.

 

The country where a plaque honoring the confederate dead hanging in the Texas State Capital is looked upon as insensitive and a sign of racial prejudice but a photo of a nude woman, arms outstretched, symbolizing the body of Christ is depicted as art and subsidized by tax money.

 

Our country, where the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have developed a 90-minute video depicting the mutilation of cattle to show at the entrance of Burger King, but many of the same protesters support the right to “Choice” and support partial birth abortion – a procedure that is performed in the second and third trimesters and entails inducing a breech delivery with forceps, delivering the legs, arms, and torso only, puncturing a suction curette into the skull, suctioning the contents of the skull as to collapse it, and completing the delivery.  A partial breech delivery is not considered a “birth” at common law, where it is the passage of the head that is essential.

 

America, where students are forbidden to pray at a commencement address or a football game but a state supported school, Penn State University, allows a student run event known as Sex Faire to take place where sexual games including “orgasm bingo” are conducted and the festival features anatomically correct gingerbread cookies.

 

While I am a committed Republican, the roots of my political resolve are founded in the Democratic Party.  I was only four years old, but I can still remember quite vividly, when my mother made me sit still long enough to witness the caissons making their way down the road, carrying the body of America’s slain President.  I can still see the picture of John F. Kennedy that hung in my great grandmother’s den.  My great grandmother Feemster’s maiden name was Rosie Agnes Lee and a cousin of Robert E. Lee of Virginia.

 

My great great grandfather John Jacob Adkins was a soldier in the War of Northern Aggression, also known as the Civil War.  John was not fighting for state’s rights or to defend the institution of slavery.  John and his sons, and daughters, worked the fields themselves.  They had no slaves.  John, like the majority of southerners were defending their homeland from invasion from the North.  Much like his father’s father had fought for the same principles in the Revolutionary War.

 

Both sets of my grandparents were ardent Democrats who believed that Franklin Roosevelt had saved the country.  They had weathered the great depression.  My grandfather Feemster hoping a train and taking odd jobs where he could find them and my Grandfather Russell working the fields as a farmer when we wasn’t putting his time in at the local mill.  They were products of an impoverished south, laid waste after the War Between the States.  They did not have the benefit of a college education, but instead were students of hard work and adversity.  But their faith in God, promise of future, pride in their heritage, and commitment to the ideals of the Democratic Party were never shaken.

 

John Kennedy, seemed to symbolize the essence of the presidency, as he  found his place in my grandmother Russell’s home, adorning a window box with small pictures of close relatives and a small silver figurine of the late president.kennedy0001

 

I was ecstatic in high school when a little known southern governor proclaimed his candidacy for the high office of President.  I thought it was “cool” and actually volunteered to put bumper stickers on cars, distribute posters, and hand out fliers during his successful campaign for President.

 

Given this rich history with the Democratic Party, why did I turn to the Republican Party?  There was no “Road to Damascus”, no instant conversation.  Rather it was a culmination of education in school, service in civic clubs, and exposure to political figures that figured in my resolve.  An individual can follow blindly into a political philosophy because that’s the way his or her family always voted….or they can closely examine their own philosophical beliefs and compare them to our present day political party’s platform.

 

What do I believe?

 

I believe that faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life, that we exist to glorify God and use our talents for his…or her greater glory.

 

I believe this country was founded on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, and that while Government should not dictate what religion we observe,  the fact is this country was founded on religious principles.

 

I believe in individual accountability – that each of us are responsible for our own actions. 

  

I believe that discrimination in any form is wrong.

 

I believe that nearly all of our problems are created by people, and that only people, not government, can solve these problems.

 

I believe in limited government, a strong military, tax reform, and encouraging faith-based organizations and volunteerism in our civic clubs who work tirelessly for those who need a helping hand.

 

I believe in the inalienable right of every American to bear arms.

 

I agree with the Republican platform that states that today’s tax code is dysfunctional.  It penalizes hard work, marriage, thrift, and success – the very factors that are the foundations for a lasting prosperity.  Our Federal taxes are the highest they have ever been for a peacetime America and taxes at all levels of government absorb 36% of the national net product.

 

I support President Bush’s tax cut, which will stimulate our slowing economy, double the child tax credit to $1,000, and eliminate the marriage penalty.  We need to encourage entrepeneurship and growth by capping the top marginal rate, ending the death tax, and making permanent the research and development credit.  We should encourage capital investment and savings which is at a dangerously low savings level for young couples.

 

As the president of a chamber of commerce, I can attest that small business create most of the new jobs in this country and generate more than half the gross domestic product. According to the Small Business Administration, 25.5 million small businesses in America employ more than half of the country’s private work force, create three out of every four new jobs, and generate a majority of American innovations.  Providing health insurance is a major challenge for these small business owners.  Almost 60% of uninsured workers are either employed by small business or are self-employed.  I agree with the 2000 Republican National platform that calls for the 100% deductibility of health insurance premiums and letting small businesses band together, across state lines, to purchase plans through chamber of commerce or association plans.

 

Republicans recognize that the role of government in the new economy is to foster an environment where innovation can flourish. I applaud the Republican Congress, who last year pushed through the Internet Tax Freedom Act that put a moratorium on new Internet taxes to ensure electronic commerce would not be smothered in its infancy.

 

reagan0001When looking at education, to borrow a classic query from Ronald Reagan, “Are we better off than we were eight years ago.”  The sad answer is no.  At a time when our country enjoys remarkable economic growth and a world of opportunity, test scores suffer, American colleges and Universities are offering remedial courses and U.S. businesses are unable to find qualified and trainable workers.

 

I support the Republican plan to raise academic standards through increased local control and accountability.  We need to expand parental choice and encourage competition by providing parents with information on their child’s school, increasing the number of charter schools, and expanding education savings accounts for use from kindergarten through college.  We need to help states ensure safety by forcefully prosecuting youths who carry or use guns and the adults who provide them.

 

But we must recognize that it is not the teachers who are to blame for many of our challenges to the educational system.  Teacher pay and benefits are central to attracting and retaining qualified educators.  We are losing the battle of attracting young educators when they can obtain better wages by choosing another, more lucrative field.  Financial incentives such as lowering the points on a new home, a dream for many young couple, could attract young people to a career in teaching.  A single point could mean a four to five percent wage increase for a young person.  We need to establish longevity pay to keep some older teachers on the rolls just a little longer, providing our children with the education they need and deserve.

 

Since 1992, Social Security’s unfunded liability has increased from $7.4 trillion to $8.8 trillion.  Its trustee’s project by the year 2015, there will not be enough cash coming from payroll taxes to pay currently promised Social Security Benefits.  In the eight years of the Clinton-Gore administration, there was a lot of talk but no reform of the system.  I believe that Social Security must be reformed and I support the Republican Plan to allow personal savings accounts to be the cornerstone of that restructuring.  Today’s workers should be free to direct a portion of their payroll taxes to personal investments, netting higher return rates, for their retirement future.

 

Choice is the key and any new options for retirement security should be voluntary, so workers can choose to remain in the present system or opt for a new system, which could yield higher returns.

 

I support President Bush’s efforts to repeal the Death Tax. Hard working Americans should not live in fear that the fruits of their labor will fall into the hands of the government rather than that of their children.  It is a double tax, which is imposed when you earn the money, and again when you die.  Supporters of the tax say it only punishes the rich.  But in essence, many of the rich avoid the tax through a gaggle of Attorneys and CPA’s through estate planning and financial loopholes.  In actuality, it is the families of long held family farms or the inherited small business that cannot come up with the funds to pay the tax.

 

I believe that a strong and well-trained American Military force is the wold’s best guarantee of peace.  While we remain the preeminent super power in the world and no one can question the commitment of our fighting men and women, recruiting lags, and our well-trained personnel have left in record numbers.  Our dedicated military that continue to serve on our behalf are compensated with pay, which is 13% less than their civilian counterpart.  Thousands of military families are forced to rely on food stamps and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that 2/3 of the nation’s military housing is sub-standard.  We must restore the health and vitality of the American Military, increasing wage and benefits, and ensuring they have the training and equipment to carry out their mission.

  

Why am I a Republican?  I have watched as election after election the Democratic Party pitted race against race, social class against social class, and old against young.  If the Republican Party is elected….race relations will be set back to the Jim Crow era.  If the Republican is elected, they will cut Social Security benefits and make it difficult for seniors to receive their Medicare support.  If Republicans are elected, they will give a big tax decrease to the rich but increase taxes on the poor and middle class.

 

This most recent presidential election was most evident of this and perhaps the most striking instance was an ad run nationally by the NAACP which inferred that George W. Bush was in part responsible for the James Lee Byrd hate crime in Texas and at the very least…light on the enforcement of harsh penalties for such action.  The commercial was at best misleading and at worst reckless and inflammatory.

 

President Bush and the Republican congress are well on their way to passing the much-needed tax cut.  They will repeal the ergonomics legislation, which is having a dire on our manufacturing and small business community.  I applaud the President’s support of the military and his commitment to our armed forces and his call to set up a commission to study and make recommendations on Social Security reform. 

 

We must overhaul the tax code, simplify it, and repeal taxes such as the death tax, and the marriage penalty. 

 

And the Lord spoke through Joshua saying, “I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and the olive groves which you did not plant.”  We have inherited much…and much is required in turn.

 

The soil of this country is wet with the sweat of the indentured servant, who toiled in his labor to pay off the debt incurred from a trip to the New World and a land of opportunity.  A soil soaked with the tears which ran down the cheeks of the black slave, a child pulled from the arms of her mother, a husband separated from his wife.  A soil stained with the blood of the American soldier, fighting against foreign foe, sometimes neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother.  The soil is nurtured with the blood and bones of those slaughtered native Americans, whose land was stripped from them.

 

Ours in not always a pleasant history.  Great injustices have been done to the Black American, the Native Indian, the southern family following the Civil War, Japanese Americans who were interned in prison camps during World War II, and females who were treated as second class citizens during much of country’s history.  But we should not strive to cover up our history, allowing revisionist to rewrite our past, but to remember and learn from the injustice.

 

Perhaps an individual who had the greatest impact on my personal philosophical and political belief was Ronald Wilson Reagan.  While President of the U.S. Junior Chamber, I had lunch with perhaps America’s most optimistic supporter.  I can still recall, his address to our Jaycee Delegates at a National Convention when he said, “Many people look back fondly on our past and talk about how good things used to be.  But I believe America is a country of tomorrow and I believe our best days are before her.”

 

I too believe America is a country of tomorrow, where opportunity abounds for those with the initiative to seize it.  Where there are no hyphenated Americans, only Americans.  Where we no longer pit class against class or race against race.  Where we are all acknowledged as one race…the human race.

 

A country where entrepenuership and hard work is rewarded.  The less fortunate are assisted and the elderly are shown the respect and afforded the benefits they deserve.  Where every child is given the best education available.

 

I believe in one nation……under God…..Indivisible….with liberty and justice for all.    

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lesson in Teamwork

     There once was a very prominent frog living at Lake Murray near Columbia.  This particular frog owned a great many lily pads there.  One day he heard about all the activity taking place at Lake Norman with the development, fishing tournaments, and the great quality of life.  He knew he just had to be a part of North Carolina’s premier region.  But how could he get up here?

     He could not hop his way up I-77.  It was simply too far.  So the frog struck up a conversation with Mr. Duck.  The frog admired the way Mr. Duck could take to the air landing pretty much where he liked.  The frog was a wise and shrewd little guy and asked Mr. Duck for a favor.  “On you next trip up North, could you drop me off at Lake Norman,” asked the frog.  “How could I,” inquired Mr. Duck.

     “You could put a stick in your beak and I will hold onto it with my mouth,” explained the frog.  “Together as a team we can sail through the sky and I can go to live at Lake Norman!”  So off they went, the duck and the frog, high above the ground.

     Just then a flock of geese flew by.  One of the geese saw the majestic duck and the little frog.  He admired such teamwork and exclaimed, “Look at that!  Who could have ever thought of such a plan?  They must have been visionary and wise beyond their years…such creativity and imagination.  I wonder who devised such a plan?

  The little frog beamed with pride.  “It was me…it was me,” he shouted as he opened his mouth and plunged to the ground below.

     The essence of teamwork is to leave self-adulation and egos at the door.  Everyone likes to be acknowledged for a job well done.  We like others to recognize the talents and skills we bring to a project.  However, the most successful ventures are when we all work together for a common goal, supporting each others actions, without striving for personal acclaim.  Past President Ronald Reagan used to have a paperweight on his desk in the Oval Office that read – “There is no limit what can be accomplished, if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

     It was a lesson the frog should have learned before he took to the air.  It is a lesson each of us should try to practice in our daily lives.

March 13, 2009 Posted by | Leadership Lessons | , | Leave a comment