Some 40 years ago my father — a farmer, manufacturer and political provocateur — walked out of a taproom tucked in a country dale by the Brandywine River, not far from the eponymous revolutionary battle site in our war of independence… and decided to run for governor.
Undoubtedly he was burping some beer frontwards and backwards as he drove his pickup truck homewards… up the winding historic Strasburg Road that was not much more than a cow path. But in bucolic farmlands of heartland Chester County, just outside the encroaching greater Philadelphia metropolitan area and its expanding suburbia, it was what was considered a thorofare.
And I could just imagine my irascible, doctrinaire, corn cob puffing ol’ pappy smiling in the moonlight at the thought that running for governor would be a gas. Hell, he snorted to me later, ‘why not me?’
He wanted his voice heard against big government overtaxing and over encroaching into our lives. He protested what he saw as the incipience of socializedmedicine. As a ‘rugged individual’ of post WWII, he saw government over-regulation stifling American enterprise.
After all, that’s how he started out – on his own enterprise. His own father had been killed in a trolley car accident in Philadelphia when he was only 16. And his mother died of cancer when he was 21. He was almost penniless when he bought the farm after the Great War. And had to beg and borrow heavily from ‘businessmen’ when he couldn’t get access to bank credit to start his little chainsaw factory.
Soooo… With less than 3 months remaining until the Pennsylvania primary he got my mother and his secretary cranking on the office copying machine.
To tell you the truth, this man, who admittedly ‘couldn’t stand most people,’ would have been a troublesome governor. But so would have everyone else in the hunt – particularly the strange-looking, oversized Baby Huey candidate in high-top, black Converse sneakers. His major campaign slogan was that: ‘All doctors should have M.D. degrees.’
Hmm… Sorry professor. And do I need to remind the rest of us that Pennsylvania is just one of the 50 states of low expectations. But it strives to be number 1.
Anyway, my father, who during my Vietnam protest days of the early 1970s organized a countywide tax action committee to fight the government continually hiking property taxes, figured he had something worth saying – most anytime… And by gawd, he was going to raise some hell. Even if the Philadelphia newspapers had tagged his late entry dismissively as someone chasing windmills.
I am reminded of my father’s futile quest these days as we are about to enter the polling booths and vote (or not vote) in our primaries to choose candidates who have little intention or capability of fulfilling their campaign promises. As I have often remarked: Never believe anyone when they are drunk, horny or running for office.
What I think my father, who died 22 years ago from too many frazzled mental lobes, finally recognized was that nobody really gives a shit about the common good. What the government, as well as the common man, only wants to know is ‘what’re you giving me.’
But of course! Needless to say, the best argument against democracy really is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
My father had given them what he felt was most important to himself – a job. In fact, for quite a few years he had provided a couple of hundred of them jobs… to manufacture his early chainsaws in the 1950s. As well one of the first riding mowers to cut their suburban yards. And generators to weather the storms…
His simple motto was power for modern living.
What he also sought to give them was the power inherent in a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
But while the times may change. And laws may change. The sad fact, as my father died lamenting, is that little really changes, except for the worse. Change is something that is merely blowin’ in the wind. As my father plaintively put it: ‘folks don’t want to seize opportunity; they want it to drop into their empty hands. From the guv-ment.’
And, unfortunately, we get the government we deserve – while detesting the same two things: The way things are…. And change.
And my father could only bellow: Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. It drives everything: Job creation, poverty alleviation, innovation…
Job creation, he insisted, requires a business friendly environment with a tax structure that is not punitive and a government designed for efficient use of fewer tax dollars. He often asserted that increased spending, growing government debt and overreaching regulations are stifling job creation and economic growth.
And remember, this was 40 years ago. I guess he should be considered ‘prescient.’ Especially the 99.9% of the time that he was absolutely sober.
Hmm… Truthfully, I am not here to sing the praises of my father. Indeed my childhood was mostly a battle for oxygen in his tyrannical house. But I had to admire his can-do aggressive nature. It was entrepreneurs like him who built this country. They figured you are what you make of yourself. Nobody handed them a damn thing. They worked. They fought. They battled. They seized opportunity. And made their way in a land of boundless prospects and a government that was supposed to be limited to enhancing those possibilities.
In other words they battled wars against the way things are… and for change.
With the primaries in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in a few days the trouble is with the candidates I’ve listened to and queried – especially for Philadelphia mayor –is that they are mostly lawyers and political hacks who have never built – or even run – a business. They talk typically about crime in the streets and lack of education in our schools.
I tell them that our streets are safe; it is only ‘unemployed’ people that make them unsafe. I tell them that education isn’t a problem; it’s the bleak future of unemployment that saps the focus of students who feel powerless.
So I persist in demanding to know their answer to the only problem that makes a difference. How are you going to create an environment for entrepreneurship? In ‘utter’ words: How are you going to aid and abet the creation of jobs?
I realize the answer isn’t easy. And, as always, for every answer there is a question; and for every question there is another answer. But what I surmise from them – except for one developer running for city council – is that they are part of the problem and not the solution.
What I do know is simply this: Money is like blood – it has to circulate.
The way to an American economic comeback, the way to help those out of work today find a paycheck, is to unleash the forces of job creation in America. The source of new jobs isn’t going to be the bureaucracies of city, state and federal government, but rather the creativity, ingenuity, and hard work of the American people.
To be simply poignant: Obstacles to job creation in America are a result of policy, not of motivation. Small business owners are fighting every day to create and innovate, but continue to face government barriers to job creation.
If I know this. And my father knew this. Why don’t our politicians seem to recognize this?
And the answer as everybody knows, is that politicians don’t get elected to do a job, but to keep their jobs. Which is understandable. Except for the fact that they really don’t understand what their job is, precisely. And that is to create a business friendly environment with a tax structure that is not punitive and a government designed for efficient use of fewer tax dollars.
In other words, they have forgotten their ‘mission.’
So have we, the voters. Our mission is to invoke ‘term limits.’ And that is simply done by voting the guys in-office outta office. In other words: Vote against the incumbent.
I don’t say this facetiously. What have we got to lose… except bad government. I maintain to always vote for somebody different in the primary. And even for the other party in the election. If we keep turning our leaders and representative over they don’t get to steal too much.
My dear ol’ Pappy has been away from this world for over two decades. And in that time all I’ve seen and witnessed as a chronicler of the way we are is that our debts have gotten higher and our woes have gotten deeper.
If this surprises you, please go back to watching football!
And so, once more I repeat: If you vote, then at least consider voting against. And if you don’t vote and don’t get involved in politics don’t think you get a free ride… because politics – even though it involves choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable — will always involve you. Everything is political.
And consider this: The Constitution was written by 55 educated and highly intelligent men in Philadelphia in 1787, but it was written so that it could be understood by people of limited education and modest intelligence… like most of us… so that we could all participate.
Even my father.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…