Sunday, February 28, 2010

President Kennedy on the subject of History

Upon request from American Heritage Magazine, 1962

There is little that is more important for an American citizen to know than the history and traditions of his country. Without such knowledge, he stands uncertain and defenseless before the world, knowing neither where he has come from nor where lie is going. With such knowledge, he is no longer alone but draws a strength far greater than his own from the cumulative experience of the past and a cumulative vision of the future.

Knowledge of our history is, first of all, a pleasure for its own sake. The American past is a record of stirring achievement in the face of stubborn difficulty. It is a record filled with figures larger than life, with high drama and hard decision, with valor and with tragedy, with incidents both poignant and picturesque, and with the excitement and hope involved in the conquest of a wilderness and the settlement of a continent. For the true historian—and for the true student of history—history is an end in itself. It fulfills a deep human need for understanding, and the satisfaction it provides requires no further justification.

Yet, though no further justification is required for the study of history, it would not be correct to say that history serves no further use than the satisfaction of the historian. History, after all, is the memory of a nation. Just as memory enables the individual to learn, to choose goals and stick to them, to avoid making the same mistake twice—in short, to grow—so history is the means by which a nation establishes its sense of identity and purpose. The future arises out of the past, and a country’s history is a statement of the values and hopes which, having forged what has gone before, will now forecast what is to come.

As means of knowledge, history becomes a means of judgment. It offers an understanding of both the variety and unity of a nation whose motto is E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one. It reminds us of the diverse abundance of our people, coming from all races and all parts of the world, of our fields and mountain ranges, deserts and great rivers, our green farmlands and the thousand voices of our cities. No revolution in communication or transportation can destroy the fact that this continent is, as Walt Whitman said, “a nation of nations.” Yet it also reminds us that, in spite of the diversity of ethnic origin, of geographic locale, of occupation, of social status, of religious creed, of political commitment, Americans are united by an ancient and encompassing faith in progress, justice, and freedom.

Our history thus tests our policy: Our past judges our present. Of all the disciplines, the study of the folly and achievements of man is best calculated to foster the critical sense of what is permanent and meaningful amid the mass of superficial and transient questions which make up the day-to-day clamor. The history of our nation tells us that every action taken against the freedoms of conscience and expression, against equality before the law and equality of opportunity, against the ordinary men and women of the country is an action taken against the American tradition. And it tells us that every action taken for a larger freedom and a more equal and spacious society is one more step toward realization of what Herbert Croly once called “the promise of American life.”

A knowledge of history is more than a means of judgment: It is also a means of sympathy—a means of relating our own experience with the experience of other peoples and lands struggling for national fulfillment. We may sometimes forget, for example, that the United States began as an underdeveloped nation which seized its independence by carrying out a successful revolution against a colonial empire. We may forget that, in the first years of the new republic, George Washington laid down the principle of no “permanent alliances” and enjoined the United States to a course of neutralism in the face of the great-power conflicts then dividing the civilized world. We may forget that, in the first stages of our economic development, our national growth was stimulated to a considerable degree by “foreign aid”—that is, investment from abroad—and by public investment and direction on the part of our state and local as well as our national government. We may forget that our own process of economic change was often accompanied by the issue of wildcat paper money, by the repudiation of bonds, by disorder, fraud, and violence. If we recall the facts of our own past, we may better understand the problems and predicaments of contemporary “new nations” laboring for national development in circumstances far less favorable than our own— and we will, in consequence, become less liable to the self-righteousness which is both unworthy of our own traditions and a bane of international relations.

A knowledge of history is, in addition, a means of strength. “In times of change and danger,” John Dos Passos wrote just before World War II, “when there is a quicksand of fear under men’s reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a life line across the scary present.” Dos Passos called his book The Ground We Stand On—and the title concisely defines the role of the past in preparing us for the crisis of the present and the challenge of the future. When Americans fight for individual liberty, they have Thomas Jefferson and James Madison beside them; when they strive for social justice, they strive alongside Andrew Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt; when they work for peace and a world community, they work with Woodrow Wilson; when they fight and die in wars to make men free, they fight and die with Abraham Lincoln. Historic continuity with the past, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “is not a duty; it is only a necessity.”

A knowledge of history is, above all, a means of responsibility—of responsibility to the past and of responsibility to the future … of responsibility to those who came before us and struggled and sacrificed to pass on to us our precious inheritance of freedom … and of responsibility to those who will come after us and to whom we must pass on that inheritance with what new strength and substance it is within our power to add. “Fellow citizens,” Abraham Lincoln said, “we cannot escape history. … The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.” American history is not something dead and over. It is always alive, always growing, always unfinished— and every American today has Iris own contribution to make to the great fabric of tradition and hope which binds all Americans, dead and living and yet to be born, in a common faith and a common destiny.

In the final analysis, your attitude determines your effectiveness in everything, every time! LGL

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Para mis amigos and those that read Spanish

Mensaje de la EditoraC+ (Sé Positivo)
escrito por Rosalinda Delgado

El nuevo año está aquí y Buena Gente cumple 7 años de existencia, comenzamos el 8vo. año con un nuevo mensaje que aunque es corto, significa mucho. C+ (Sé Positivo), en inglés: B+ (Be positive).

¡Si! Este nuevo año no podemos esperar a que la economía mejore. Tenemos que tomar cartas en el asunto para prosperar, mejorar nuestra salud, saldar las deudas, incrementar las ventas en el negocio, mejorar la comunicación con nuestros hijos, encontrar un nuevo empleo. Para lograr tener lo que queremos, tenemos que hacer algo que no hemos hecho.

En primer lugar, si quieres que contemos contigo, tienes que dejarte contar en el Censo 2010. Es imprescindible que se sepa cuantos hispanos vivimos en los EEUU. Si no tienes documentación, el Censo será una fuerte evidencia de su presencia en EEUU en el 2010. La oficina del censo, por mandato de ley, no puede divulgar información sobre ti a ninguna otra agencia, a menos que tú expresamente lo solicites. Esto te da gran ventaja al solicitar la ciudadanía y te pidan evidencia de haber estado en EEUU. En tal caso, podrás decir que fuiste contado en el Censo 2010 y solicitar que la oficina del Censo lo verifique. El censo también nos dará una fuerza mayor como hispanos/latinos en Maryland. Se estima que la presencia hispana en el estado puede llegar a un 15 ó 20% de la población. El gobierno federal tendrá, por consecuencia, que asignar más fondos a los servicios que presta a nuestra comunidad.

En segundo lugar, tenemos que pensar si queremos que nuestra población sea la más pobre o la más rica. Somos definitivamente los más trabajadores y los más consumistas. Ahora bien, ¿seremos los más educados? Nuestros jóvenes están abandonando la escuela para irse a trabajar, y nuestras jovencitas se están embarazando en plena adolescencia. ¡Es una epidemia alarmante! ¿Que indica esto? Que estamos en a riesgo de ser parte de la población más pobre de América. ¡Aun estamos a tiempo de cambiar el futuro de nuestros hijos con las decisiones del presente!

En tercer lugar, ¡Abre la boca! Habla con tu vecino y conócelo (así entenderá mejor nuestra cultura), entérate de lo que está pasando, intégrate a tu comunidad, participa, comienza un equipo deportivo, toma una clase, sal de tu casa y haz ejercicios, habla con otros comerciantes y averigua lo que están haciendo, arriésgate. No le temas al rechazo, sé positivo y piensa que todo saldrá bien, que sobrevivirás para contar tu historia. Ahora, ¡levántate y haz lo que nunca haz hecho, para que logres lo que nunca has tenido!

Rosalinda Delgado

In the final analysis, your attitude determines your effectiveness in everything, every time! LGL

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Let them FAIL!

Added regulation causes greater pervesion!

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Feb 11 (Reuters) - U.S. banks resentful about Washington interference on pay and other issues need to make clear they won't beg for a bailout when crisis hits, said former BB&T Corp Chief Executive and Chairman John Allison.

While they're at it, banks should consider overhauling their compensation systems anyway because they do not work well in the long term, Allison, 61, said in a wide-ranging interview about the U.S. banking system on Wednesday.

Allowing troubled banks to fail would regulate the market better then the government could, said Allison, who, since quitting as BB&T CEO in 2008 and chairman in 2010, has become a popular figure among critics of the U.S. government's financial industry bailout and the subsequent regulatory debate.

BB&T, the nation's tenth-largest bank, came through the credit crisis in a relatively healthy position vis-a-vis many of its southern regional rivals. Allison led the bank for nearly two decades, from 1989 to 2008, and was the architect of its growth from a small, North Carolina bank.

It took $3.1 billion from the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), but was one of the first banks to repay the money and has emerged as a consolidator in the troubled sector, buying the assets of failed Colonial Bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

"I have no empathy for" banks that failed in the crisis, said Allison, now a business school professor at Wake Forest University .

Allison's comments come as regulators and the U.S. Congress debate financial industry rules. In recent months, critics have lambasted banks that paid record annual bonuses despite taking billions of dollars in federal bailouts during the crisis, and as broader U.S. unemployment remains near 10 percent.

Allison, who opposes the Obama administration's proposed regulatory reforms, says he has a simple solution.

"If [these banks] had been allowed to fail, these bankers wouldn't be getting paid right now," he said.

Allison's industry view is informed by his personal libertarian philosophy and reflected in his small, spartan office on the third floor of Wake Forest 's sprawling business and law school building.

His most prominent office decoration is a bookcase stacked with the works of Objectivist philosopher and author Ayn Rand, whose novels celebrate individualism and unfettered laissez-faire capitalism.

While Allison's outspoken anti-bailout views have fueled speculation about a career in politics, he poured cold water on that idea, and insisted he's more interested in trying to influence young minds through his current academic post.

Banks brought the government's scrutiny by making poor decisions leading up to the crisis, and giving executives badly structured pay packages, he said. Directors should take the blame for banker pay.

"Boards made significant operational errors," he said.

In the years leading up to the crisis, banks tied employee pay to short-term gains, rather than long-term health and stability of an institution, he said.

Compensation committees, he said, were "simply not comprehensive in their evaluation" of pay guidelines.

The result was bankers acting in their own interests, but not the long-term interest of shareholders and the companies, he said.


The ever-present prospect of government rescue, he said, caused the biggest banks to act irresponsibly, taking larger risks than they might without implicit help from Uncle Sam.

If any bank becomes "too big to fail," Allison said the government must create a mechanism to break them up.

"I think it creates an oligopoly in the business long-term," by allowing such banks to survive, he said. "They've got a long-term competitive advantage and the market will figure that out."

Allison's solution is simple: Cut out what he views as badly focused regulations.

Instead, he wants to see banks retain more capital to reduce their leverage, and cut 90 percent of the current banking regulations.

"You've have a better capitalized industry which is by definition less risky, and banks can run on their own merits," he said.

In the final analysis, your attitude determines your effectiveness in everything, every time! LGL