WESLEY TRUITT, LESSONS IN GOVT., at WVRC on June 2nd.
JIM CRANE provided the Invocation, based on thanking the good lord for all his guidance, and for blessing all Rotarians. PP ERIC LOBERG led the Pledge, plus our recitation of The Four Way Test. And who else but the best, LENNY, took us through all the known verses of I Been Working on the Railroad. President GORDON was back from the New Orleans Convention, and he got us started right!
We had two visiting Rotarians. David Harilela is the incoming District Governor for Hong Kong, and he was asked to compare Rotary in HK and here. Basically, in mainland China, there are only three Rotary Clubs - in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and only ‘ex-pats’ (that is other than Chinese citizens) are allowed to belong. Genevieve Flight, from the Rotary Club of London, was also returning from the Convention. And on the local side, SUNNY was of course with LENNY.
It was birthday time, with several missing, but JOHN O’KEEFE elected Chicago on the 19th, and PP STEVE SCHERER stood up for the 21st, in Rochelle - and we know you know that’s also in Illinois. But, in memory of birthdays past (and missed) PP CHRIS GAYNOR was nicked for $5, and SALLY BRANT had to pay $10. This just goes to show that a life of crime will eventually catch up with you - so be warned!
ED JACKSON came forward with several announcements.
June 25th, the Demotion Party, at the Marina Marriott, starts at 6 pm - you have the Invitation, do let Ed know if you will be attending, please.
WVRC was honored to be chosen as one of 200 Clubs within R.I. to be chosen as Pilot Club. More of this later, but stay tuned, please. ED then reported briefly on the R.I. Convention, which just ended in New Orleans. He agreed that N.O. was indeed a fun place to visit. He met Rotarians from all over the world, and will share some of their ideas with WVRC as his year develops.
DON PARK, President of our YMCA, announced the public kickoff for their building campaign. It will be next Wednesday, JUNE 8TH, from 5:30 until 7pm. At University High School. The building will be THE COLLINS-KATZ FAMILY YMCA! Nice recognition for two very generous Y supporters.
PP STEVE DAY then called on STEVE LOHR, ALY SHOJI, and BRIAN WHITNEY to come forward. Each of them has become a Paul Harris Fellow, and the appropriate medallions were delivered. This Fellowship was established in 1957, and recognizes their significant contribution to the ongoing work of R.I. This was followed by a well-deserved Standing Ovation. Next, PP STEVE recognized ED JACKSON and PP BOB WESSLING for their additional contributions to the Paul Harris Society.
PP CHRIS BRADFORD provided his usual excellent introduction of our speaker, Dr. Wesley Truitt. He is Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine, and has also taught MBA students at UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management and at Loyola-Marymount’s business school. He is a consultant to the Rand Corporation, and prior to that was with aerospace giant Northrop Grumman, as Vice President-Europe. He holds a BA from Pennsylvania, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and has MA and PhD degrees in Political Science from Columbia. His other graduate work was at the University of Florence, Italy. He spoke recently at the Cato Institute, in Washington D,C, and at Beverly Hills Rotary. His latest book is Power and Policy; Lessons for Leaders in Government and Business, and is available on Amazon.com.
Dr. Truitt suggested he would talk on three main topics - Power, on the negative side, Power, on the positive side, and why, sometimes, even though you have a lot of power, you fail to achieve your objectives. Three areas can cause trouble - Power, Money, and Women, examples being Kaddafi, Spiro Agnew and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He listed some of the well-known names that abused power recently - Enron, and Madorf, among others. Boards of Directors were ultimately responsible for this failure to use Power constructively. On Christmas Eve, 2009, our Senate passed the Obama Care bill, and in March 2008, the House also passed the bill. This was without a single vote from any Republicans. This bill was opposed by 63% of voters.
On the positive side, his examples were Jack Welch and Philip Knight, Welsh became CEO of GE in 1981, and grew its sales from 25 billion annually to 125 billion. His motto was “compete - and if you can’t, don’t.” Philip Knight became CEO of Nike in the 1960’s. Every operation of theirs was outsourced to wherever it could be produced the least expensively. These two business models are studied extensively today in all MBA programs.
President Theodore Roosevelt transformed the office of the Presidency between 1901 and 1909, essentially by the sheer force of his personality. He built the modern U.S. Navy; he built the Panama Canal, and so consolidated power in the White House that the office was never the same again. Another example was President John Kennedy, who, three months into his term, announced a goal to place men on the moon before the end of the decade, and bring them back safely. This was so focused that 25% of federal spending was devoted to Space during this time.
Abraham Lincoln, during the Civil War, ordered the US Navy to fire on Confederate ships before war was declared, besides which he raised an army and purchased arms - all these acts without specific Congressional approval. Later, Congress did enact laws allowing all these decisions.
On the other side, under George W. Bush, we underestimated the amount of force needed to enforce the pacification of Iraq. On the other side, President Woodrow Wilson applied plenty of US power at the end of the first World War, but didn’t have the political muscle to have the Treaty of Versailles ratified by the Senate. As we grew into our role of Supreme Power, President Jimmy Carter didn’t use enough power to rescue our hostages in Iran.
Examples of failing to use the power they had in 1939 to stop Hitler were Daladier and Chamberlain. When they finally declared war eight months later, Hitler had the extra time necessary to make his military so successful - they defeated the Allies in six weeks! Napoleon attempted to take Russia without taking into account the immense distances involved - an impossible task, both then and now. Afghanistan is the prime example of the misuse of force - Over the past 300 years, first the Russian Empire, then the British, then the Soviets, and now the U.S. have tried to impose their will, without success.
Our federal government has assigned itself the policing of the world - yet there is nothing whatsoever in the Constitution which permits this assumption on our part. The Supreme Court in 1937 began to allow the government to ‘control’ the economy - and again, there is nothing to support this in our constitution. Starting in 2007, the federal government took over huge sections of our economy - same lack of authorization notwithstanding. Starting then, Bush and Obama spent two TRILLION dollars to ‘rescue’ our economy - but with no prior basis in law. We should remember the advice of Aristotle, “Revolutions and democracies are generally caused by the incompetence of demigods”. We should be more aware of where this assumption of power without authorization can lead.
Q&A - The first comment, from an unnamed member of the audience, “You, sir, rather than Sarah Palin or the Tea Party, should be representing the Republican Party’. Applause, of course. Are there recent examples of this assumption of power? Yes, both the No Child Left Behind and the Prescription Drug benefit are without any basis of authorization. Each of these can lead us to bankruptcy. Where did these assumptions of power come from? The Secretary of the Treasury at that time was Henry Paulson, former head of Goldwyn Saks, and he led that takeover - again, without any prior basis in law. Someone asked if that sort of action had been taken before, and the answer was that Woodrow Wilson, for a very short time during WW I, took over some companies, but gave them back very quickly. How did we get into this mortgage mess? In the 30’s, someone decided that home ownership would produce better citizens - which has no basis of proof - and thus easy mortgage credit became available to almost everyone. So the government caused this problem, and then tried to fix it - so far, without success. Bankruptcy laws are what keep our Capitalist society working - if you eliminate them, there is no way to solve the problem of over-expenditure. When you were a lobbyist, how was your money used? It bought access, period. Without campaign contributions, you would not have been able to talk to your elected representative. That’s the way the campaign contribution system works, on ALL levels of government. Where are we right now? Well, 42% of people in the U.S. pay no taxes, but they get the benefits of all programs. The number of those not paying has increased in the past three years from 33 million to 47 million today. Has the way money is raised changed? Yes, the Obama campaign raised huge amounts via the internet - the first time this has been done, and it will certainly increase. What happened to help the economy in the early 80’s? Reagan reduced the overall tax rate from 78% down to 39%, and the whole economy responded. Dr. Truitt also believes the extension of the tax break which just was extended is an excellent move. The problem today is uncertainty - merchants don’t know what to expect as far as taxes are concerned, and thus they hesitate to expand or hire new people. What we need is stability, so expectations can be depended upon.
Dr Wesley Truitt, we thank you for providing your viewpoint of where we are and where we should be.