I spent 9/11 in Washington DC. There was heightened security due to the threat of another attack, with a highly visible police and military presence. And yet I was there with 1,500+ other people for a reason and would not be intimidated nor scared off by a potential attack as I was there defending against an actual attack, one by our own elected officials against the American people that they are supposed to represent. America is broke, we all know that if you live outside of the Beltway. But those that we sent to Washington for the most part only really have been focused on this since they realize that their jobs are in danger, and so they are looking for political points and easy solutions to difficult problems instead of focusing on responsibility and fairness. If I told you that the Congress is attempting to tax for the first time an industry that has existed here longer than the US Income Tax itself, is directly responsible for over one out of five dollars saved for retirement, and whose products directly protect over TWO THIRDS of our population, you would probably think “What are they thinking?”. If I were to show you that this industry saves the government billions of dollars a week by preventing people from slipping into poverty, stops home foreclosures, and covers medical expenses while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs (actually increasing employment and tax revenue during the current crisis) your intellectual side would be dumbfounded as to why the Congress would even consider weakening one of the economic drivers of the country. And if I then told you that this industry is one of the single largest creditors of the US government, and literally helps prop up Washington with their constant buying of billions in bonds thus subsidizing the budget you would be convinced that our politicians are borderline insane. Yet most people never hear of this. I spent most of the past week away from my children to go to Washington to try and educate the elected officials and bureaucrats about the economics of what they are considering. I invested my time to protect the financial livelihood of several million people in the industry across the country, most of whom do not even support the association that is sacrificing to protect their economic freedom. And I worked well into the night from before dawn to try and rally my troops to be able to stand against this internal threat to America hiding in Washington that would continue to sell out our futures in an attempt for short sighted political gain. The vast majority of Americans directly and materially benefit from the work of the life and health insurance industry, yet because of the mis-perceptions encouraged by the political machine and media the industry is vilified when it should be thanked for the protection it provides, the people it employs, and the economics it already creates. So even though I now derive only a portion of my income from the insurance world, I dedicate myself to continuing to serve the field and our clients by preventing the politicians from damaging America further by cutting out one of the few remaining economic pillars supporting our country. I give time and money to help ensure that insurance will help take care of all of our children instead of depending upon yet another unfulfillable promise from the government. I give of myself so that the wolves of Washington do not take what we as citizens have built, fleecing and eating those who can not or will not defend themselves. I sacrifice my business to keep others in business, whether they sell insurance or sandwiches. And like most who came before me, I chose to serve instead of being drafted, because our country was built and defended, inside and out, by choice. What is your choice? What are you willing to do to protect your future? Are you willing to give of your time and talent to protect your family and your job? Are you ready to face the threat of self driven politicos with selfless service to others in your community and field, to let our leaders know that they are leading us down the wrong path? Will you sacrifice and stand up for your beliefs? Tell your officials to stop being petty, to stop looking for popular yet unworkable solutions, and get to the mission of building a better, more responsible America that we can turn over to our future generations with pride just as our fore-bearers did with us. There are no easy solutions to complex problems, but there can and should be fair and logical ones. Will you help create the solutions or be forced to accept the consequences of your inaction?
Today is 9/11 and I am in Washington DC, the political center of the greatest country in the world. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear the story of Keni Thomas, one of the Rangers who was involved in the Blackhawk Down incident. A truly moving individual, and I highly suggest his new book.
This place (city and country) has changed significantly in the past decade. I will ignore the politics side of the equation to focus on the toll at home.
Literally hundreds of billions of dollars have been lost because of the actions of the few on that day. Not just the physical destruction to NYC and the Pentagon, nor even the added cost of the war. How much has been spent on hiring TSA people? How much time has been lost standing in lines or filling out extra paperwork? The lost efficiency has been estimated at over one half of a percent of annual GDP growth. The equivalent of somewhere in the neighborhood of ten million jobs.
As a capitalist it bothers me. But as an American I understand. Yes, I think that the TSA front line people can be ludicrous. Yes, I think that we need to focus on non-military solutions to rectify some of the underlying structural problems that lead to others hating Americans, and we as a Nation are not without fault for how other perceive us. But in the end there are some bad people out there that want to destroy anything that threatens their view of the world and their power, and they are willing to kill anyone to promote their world view. And so we have had to change what we do fundamentally to deal with it.
Americans have been too casual and bubble wrapped for a while, and now we see that the world leader must be part of the world. And as Keni Thomas said, leadership is not rank, it is example.
So America, today on this tenth anniversary of 9-1-1 (nine one one as opposed to nine eleven, for it was truly a call for help) ask what can you do to help lead this country back to prominence, not through military might or economic power but by being the beacon of hope and excellence and integrity that our country was founded on. Set the example, model the ideals and behaviors that we learned about as children. Do the right things so that others can know what the right things are.
Re-embracing the American ideal on all levels is the way for America to remain strong and vibrant and once more become the light of hope in a darkening world.