BUD BREWER

One Man's Opinion

Leadership

March 10, 2009: When I was a young boy 10 years of age, the American territory of Hawaii was attacked by several squadrons of dive bombers and torpedo planes sent by a Japanese group of Aircraft carriers supported by cruisers and tenders to destroy the American Naval forces anchored at Pearl Harbor. Several thousand Americans sailors and soldiers along with numerous civilians were killed in this surprise attack that shocked unsuspecting citizens here on the mainland. We lost almmost all of our battleships and supporting cadre at anchor on that fateful Sunday morning. Up until that day the majority of this country’s citizens had expressed their preference for ignoring the rising conflicts in Europe and in Asia. We were far more concerned with our weak economy and the ten million or so unemployed people that were struggling to survive each day. Besides, we were protected by two very large oceans that certainly should keep us safe thus making it unnecessary to get involved in other country’s wars.

But that catastrophic event changed all that. Two days later our President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, went before a joint meeting of Congress and asked that they vote that a state of war existed between Japan and the United States. He also requested they vote that a state of war is in existence between the United States and Germany. That night, as my mother and father and sister sat down at the table for dinner, we weren’t sure whether or not we would survive. The terror of a conflagration like that reflected in the pictures of the tragedy at Pearl Harbor made each of us wonder whether or not, being on the West Coast , we would have hordes of soldiers invading our shores any day now. But then we turned on the radio (the main, if not the only, means of audible communiction in those days) and heard the voice of our President. It was a voice of certainty, calm but deliberate, by our President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, laying out how we as a Nation of individuals would rise to the challange, with our allies, to defeat Germany and the Japanese Empire. He said that this war that now involved almost all the developed nations of the free world would take all the resolve of the citizens of America. It was comforting to listen to his reassurances of who we were and what we would have to do as a nation to be successful. He blamed no political group or segment of our population for being unprepared. He just assured us that we had the stuff to be successful and we would do it no matter how long it took. We were all in this together and we would merge victorious. Everyone felt a little better at the end of that week even though we had no idea of how hard this job would be. But, we were inspired to succeed. Every citizen began saving critical materials, willingly accepted gas rationing and reduced availability of other products important to the war effort so the military could have enough to do their job. Those too old or too young for military service joined civil defense units to prepare for a possible invasion. Everyone put their savings in to savings stamps and War Bonds to help finance this war. Our largest and most successful companies immediately converted to make war materials and eequipment. Many corporate executives worked for one dollar per year. Young men 18 and older volunteered in the thousands to join the army, navy and other military units. We became a common army of military and civilians dedicated to pursure the goal of defeating our enemies. There were no protestors; no “Mothers against the Draft” groups, no marches by students against the war, etc. This was a common front largely brought about by the voice of one man, the President of the United States. His “fireside chats” would reassure us every Sunday evening that we had the internal fortitude, courage, determination and willingness to sacrifice to win this war. Whether we were Democrat or Republican voters, whether we were conservative or liberal, we were encouraged and we became determined because we believed him. He was a master of public speaking, bringing people together to pursue a common goal- winning the war.

Now we are engaged in another potentially catastrophic time, one that involves a broken global financial system. Banks are failing as a result of deteriorating balance sheets. Mega sized corporations are failing due to the extent of the decline in the consumer economy. The commercial paper industry is just barely hanging on to viability. The mortgage industry has issued trillions of dollars worth of questionable paper and the Investment Banking industry has securitized these mortgages and their sub-prime derivitives. Into the path of this storm we had an election and a bright young senator from Illinois with public speaking capability comparable to Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected and inaugerated into the office of the Presidency.

We are faced with a different but no less dangerous war. It is one that was caused by individual, corporate and government irresponsibilty. The actions of such irresponsibility have led to a collapse in the financial system supporting commerce, industrial manufacturing, personal services and family home industries. The economy is sinking into a major recession or depression and along with that investors are fleeing the security markets selling stocks of all companies with reckless abandon.

So what does our new President offer to cope with this economic freefall? He offers 95% of the lowest income population a tax cut by raising rates on the 5% of those that pay the highest rate. He proposes an economic stimulation package that like Roosevelt’s is directed toward the infrastructure, but unfortunately it is burdoned with 9000 earmarks, those special programs for Senators and Congressmen to show their constituancies that they are delivering something to them. The size of the program and the questionable benefits have presented the President with a challange to convince the voters and the Congress that this mammouth spending is worthwhile and that it will help solve the financial Industy’s breakdown and turn the economy around.

So what does our new President do? He goes on television almost every day and berates the financial industry generally. He talks about the greed of corporate officers getting paid too much. He talks about how the pharmaceutical companies are ripping off the American people, especially the poor and that he wants to establish a universal health care run by the governmenrt. He speaks about the huge profits of the multinational oil companies. He signs executive orders to release the war prisoners from Guantamano, reverse the Bush orders limiting Federal funds for stem cell research using embyos and speaks of how he is going to take on all those that disagree with his policies. And on and on.

All these acts are controversial and make it very difficult to get the people of this country to coelese behind him in his role as the leader of this country and for that matter, the leader of the free world. Is it any wonder that the citizens are confused and polarized in their opinion Mr Obama is a great orator but he is demonstrating he is a poor leader.

One Man’s Opinion– Bud Brewer