Lessons From The Hawthorne District And Jeb Bush

Yesterday was a pretty full day. Played golf in the morning, yard work after that, and then a wedding. That evening we were going to attend a play at Warner Pacific College, but I had read the times incorrectly. I was with my wife, granddaughter and two of her friends. We arrived an hour early for the play. Waiting an hour for the play to start was not an option, so we went to an establishment called Swirl. It is a Fro-Yo store in the Hawthorne District in Portland. As we were walking around I saw this amazing commercial area made up of small and middle size businesses that seemed vibrant. I want to know more about this area.

I mention this because I think this area is an exemplar of the Economy at large. I would love to observe this area and watch how it changes, what stores open, which ones close, who shops there. I need to structure this research a bit more.

I agree with what Jeb Bush wrote in yesterday’s WSJ. “Americans have a sense that the economy is fragile, that its rewards are unfairly tilted toward the few, and that the greatest prosperity in this century will be enjoyed by people in other lands and not by our children.” But he goes on to say how there are many positive things happening in our country. I found this article very interesting. From my visit to the Hawthorne area, and reading this article, I think that as big business, community entrepreneurs, and government find a way to work together we just might see a vibrant strong economy instead of the façade of one.

Bush describes what he thinks are the core conservative principles: “greater individual responsibility, more personal freedom, and smaller and more effective government.” These he feels “are the only principles that empower people to rise to the top, to raise a family, and to be free.” So far, I have not read anything in this article from Bush that I disagree with.

What I saw in Hawthorne last night, were small businesses created by people to provide value to customers while making a living. I am assuming that is what is occurring there on this main street. These entrepreneurs are attempting to keep the social mobility axiom alive. Bush states, “First, America needs a government that allows both small people to rise and large businesses to fail. Government has a role in regulating, but its role shouldn’t include picking the winners and the losers.”

As my wife and I looked out the window at Swirl we saw a very eclectic world pass by us. Gay, straight, families, rich, and poor all passed by us during this short time sitting in the restaurant.

Bush addressed this, “Today, the sad reality is that if you are born poor, if your parents didn’t go to college, if you don’t know your father, if English isn’t spoken at home – then odds are stacked against you. You are more likely to stay poor than at any other time since World War II.” I find those words sad, and enlightening. Bush’s response to this need, “the country needs to equip every child with the best tools to rise – a quality education.” Our country spends “more per pupil than any other country in the world,” but our students continually rank middle of the pack. “America needs an education transformation based on standards benchmarked to the best of the world, a system of no-excuses, accountability that refuses to accept failure and rewards excellence. The country needs a culture based on empowering parents with the abundance of choices and deep understanding of the transformative power of digital learning.” I have to say I am ready to sing “I’m proud to be an American.

Bush’s last three points are very good. First, we need to begin to think that success is a good thing. Second, America needs a forward-thinking immigration system, “that replaces the failed status quo, meets the country’s economic needs and honors its immigration heritage and the rule of law.” Third, recognize the value of limiting the size of government.

As I read this article, I reflected on the new Pope of the Catholic Church. He has just challenged Catholics to remember the poor. The poor and marginalized need help, but there needs to be a balance between government and local people in meeting this huge need. Bush states, “We need to be out in our communities helping neighbors, mentoring children, and demonstrating that generosity, compassion, and human potential are immensely more powerful than a thousand government programs.”

I have my goal for the rest of my life. It is to prepare students to meet this challenge. My goal is not creating conservative idealists who think only about personal initiative. I want to create students who see the value of free enterprise, and how taking initiative and being successful is a good thing. I want students who are not relying on government to do something for them, but to work hard at whatever they choose do with their lives. But most of all, that as they are successful, they never forget the poor and disenfranchised. I want them to step up and help those individuals develop the skills they need to breakout of the societal and self-imposed prisons.

And that is my thought for the day!


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