WASHINGTONs LEGACY

02/15/2001

WASHINGTON'S LEGACY -by Craig R. Smith, CEO Swiss America

The United States Capitol has a private chapel for congressmen, one feature of which is a stained-glass window depicting George Washington kneeling at Valley Forge, praying to God for his soldiers and country. This image is referred to as "Washington's Gethsemane."

As we look at the challenges faced by President George W. Bush we can learn a lot from George Washington's challenges. For example, Colonial America (like modern America) was comprised of people from many religious persuasions: Puritans in the north, Episcopalians in the south, Quakers in Pennsylvania, Catholics in Maryland, Baptists in Rhode Island, Reformists in New York, and Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Unitarians, Universalists, Jews, deists and others throughout the nation.

As an Army General and President, Washington refused to take sides in religious disputes and believed that the United States government should not favor any particular religious body. He did however believe that religion was an essential pillar of society in general, though not limited to any particular denomination.

As General of the Army, Washington worked to provide chaplains of various denominations for the Army and required troops to attend chapel services. He deplored and prohibited gambling, drunkenness and blasphemy. The first order he issued after he took command, on July 4, 1775, read:

"The General most earnestly requires and expects a due observance of those articles of war established for the government of the army which forbid profane cursing, swearing, and drunkenness. And in like manner he requires and expects of all officers and soldiers, not engaged in actual duty, a punctual attendance on Divine services, to implore the blessing of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense."

In less than a month in office, President George W. Bush has gained the respect and admiration of the military and the American people. May God grant him the wisdom, humility and godly worldview of the first George W. (Washington, that is) to meet the challenges that surely lie ahead of our great nation.

On this President's Day holiday may we all stop for a few moments to reflect on the rich American heritage that we all enjoy - regardless of our religious convictions.

Take some time to review Swiss America's educational resources that are designed to help you build a solid worldview on the three most important topics of our day - politics, religion and money. Wallbuilders.com has more on George Washington's religious beliefs

STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE -by David Bradshaw, Producer, True Wealth

The markets listened between the lines of Greenspan's semiannual speech this week and heard that "downside risks predominate." The market reaction was a mini-rally based on the expectation of another .5 percent interest rate drop from the March Fed meeting.

Alan Greenspan's message focused on the "possibility of a break in confidence" and a confession that the Fed does not know where the bottom of this slowdown is, but the implicit message is that the Fed will keep any recession short and sweet with recovery by the year end.

Should we believe Mr. Greenspan? Should we have 100 percent confidence in Mr. Greenspan's ability to stimulate the economy by offering more liquidity (debt) at lower prices (interest rates) - even if it means watching the value of our dollar destroyed further?

"DEBT SMOTHERS YOUNG AMERICANS" read the USA Today headline (2/13/01). Why does Mr. Greenspan encourage more consumer spending/debt in his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee while our young and old are drowning in debt? Who will speak up for fiscal responsibility if not Mr. Greenspan?

U.S. average savings rates are down from 9 percent a decade ago to less than zero today. Sadly, we're passing on our presumptive, consumptive lifestyle to the next generation ... and then we wonder why the ends don't meet.

Why should our young people start saving when America's parents, corporations and even the Fed no longer promote savings?

And who gave the Fed the right to destroy the value of the U.S. dollar and promote smothering young Americans in debt anyway? I'm sad to say that "We the People" authorized it in 1913 (by creating the Fed), glorified it in 1933 (under FDR's New Deal), and justify it by supporting Fed inflationary policies and debt/credit bubble.

Imagine if every time we borrowed money we were forced to sign a disclaimer stating that we support the destruction of the U.S. dollar and our children's future. Perhaps then we would "Stop" as the song says, "in the name of love - before you break my heart."

Swiss America's advice is to avoid consumer debt, tighten our belts, increase our productivity at work and begin to cover our downside risks by diversifying assets to include real tangibles - like gold and silver coins.

THE NEW POWER LINES -by Joel Kotkin, author, "The New Geography"

As news, currency and technologies flow seamlessly and cheaply across national borders, localities and even small towns recognize the need to defend their geography against ever-mounting global competition.

As a result, the new public focus across the nation will not be national "competitiveness," as in the 1970s and 1980s, but the far different challenge of building successful communities that can compete in the Information Age. In this paradigm, the real action takes place not in Washington but much closer to home - at county seats, city councils, local boards and commissions, and perhaps most profoundly, voluntary associations, houses of worship and neighborhoods.

This renewed importance of personal and even spiritual commitment to place represents a departure from the patterns of the past century. Industrialization accelerated the growth of large, centralized institutions: corporations, trade unions and the federal government. These institutions became the chief means of both promoting economic development and ameliorating the inequalities that exist among places.

The most widespread of the community undertakings are initiated by religion-based institutions. Not only do churches provide services to the middle class, they also are well equipped to help the needy in ways both cost-effective and morally persuasive. In many older cities today, churches represent bulwarks for communities reeling from poverty, drugs, crime and family breakdown. In some cases, such as in parts of East Brooklyn, they have succeeded in helping revitalize blighted neighborhoods. -The Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2000

Read more about The New Geography by Joel Kotkin here


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