“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.” – F.D.R., Inaugural Address
Is the media too attentive to our economic plight, feeding our fears in the process? Nobody can answer how much better or worse the economy might be without the coverage; if you think the economy is worse than is being reported, you’d answer one way; if you think the economy is not as broken as is being reported, you’d answer another way.
But Roosevelt’s point was not that we, the public, are our own worst enemy. His point was that LEADERSHIP need be trustworthy, apt, fearless and true.
“Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.”
In his inaugural address, Roosevelt did what media does now: state the obvious. Generally, we don’t like change. F.D.R.’s speech was pretty radical. It is only in stating the obvious in such times, though, that reality is fully dealt with. Citizens gain courage when leadership is dynamic.
“In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”
As a response to the economic crisis we’ve created by living beyond our means, (The World Resources Institute is a resource for information on living beyond our means environmentally ) and that the rash, selfish economics of the past decade have led us to, we can redefine ourselves for the better. But we can only do that if we are open about taking a good hard look at ourselves, and gain strength from the effort. We are about to experience new leadership, most likely of a sort existing generations haven’t experienced. There will no doubt be problems; there always are. But if our new president runs his presidency like he ran his campaign, he will be one of our greatest leaders. And with great leadership, fear and distrust fade away.
“Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.”
Pulitzer Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said that our economy will only start to turn around when jobs are created again. Here in Jackson Hole, people need work. We’ve long needed more good work, but with visitors spending their dollars in our tourism economy, we all felt safe. I don’t know how much Obama can reasonably be expected to accomplish during this first term, but as an 18-year-old noted on National Public Radio, he should be counted on to maintain the honesty and openess he’s exhibited thus far. That will establish trust on our end, which will encourage us towards putting our economy back together again.