December 31, 2007
The January issue is now available. The current issue
December 30, 2007
It's not just making a living...
it's making a difference. From the Greentree Gazette
The new "Attorney at Large" Column
In This Election Year, Some Thoughts on Leadership
By Jim Castagnera
This column is prompted in part by the back of a black pickup truck behind which I parked the other day in Media (PA). You’ve seen these vehicles: rolling billboards. This one was plastered with slogans and campaign stickers. The one that leaped out as me read, “All our factories have moved overseas. All we make anymore are rich executives.” I can relate to this sentiment. Call it jealousy or call it common sense. But I can’t believe American CEOs are worth the fortunes they carry home.
In the same breath --- if not quite the same sentence --- I must say that I’m not a member of that school of thought that holds that economic, social and historical forces flow inexorably toward pre-determined outcomes. I don’t believe the Third Reich would have happened if the young Hitler had become a successful artist instead of a politician. While the Weimar Republic with its hyperinflation may have been doomed to collapse, the German communists might just as well have prevailed in the struggle to fill the power vacuum. Nor am I convinced that England would have stood up to Germany in 1939, if the car that ran him down in New York City more than a decade earlier had killed Winston Churchill.
Neither do I believe that our desktops would be dominated by one computer operating system if Bill Gates had remained at Harvard and gone on to graduate school and a cushy job with a Fortune 500 company. In my book, nobody deserves to be a bazillionaire. But Gates’ impact on the most important invention of the second half of the 20th century is undeniable.
So let’s give credit where it’s due. Getting back to that black pickup, another of the 20 or so bumper stickers said, “January 20, 2008: Bush’s last day!” Our president likes those plundering CEOs mentioned above. He identifies with them. In a line he borrowed, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vetter says of George W in a song, “Born on third base, thinks he hit a triple.” That’s probably true.
And yet, in the six years since the attack on the World Trade Center, no subsequent terrorist attack has happened on American soil. This is not a consequence of Osama bin Laden turning mellow and settling into a self-satisfied early retirement. The War on Terror has been costly and wasteful. War profiteers, notably the company once captained by Vice President Chaney, have pilfered the national treasury. And America has perturbed a lot of people, notably the billion or so Muslims across the globe, by Uncle Sam’s long-standing presence in the Middle East. And yet, to me it seems unfair to criticize Mr. Bush for all these failures, while denying him credit for the fact we have not again been attacked in all this time. Even the most liberal among us ought to at least concede the possibility of a cause/effect relationship here.
Does any of this point toward how we pick our next president? Or is all this so much scattered speculation… the journalistic equivalent of the back of that pickup truck?
At a minimum, I am suggesting that whom we choose matters. Although constrained by the Constitution, the balance of powers among the federal branches and the states, the inertia of a vast bureaucracy, and the opposition of other powerful nations, the president can make a difference. We can’t know how Al Gore would have handled America’s post-Nine/Eleven response. We can know that he would have appointed very different judges to the Supreme Court, a difference that will be felt for decades to come. We opt out of the political process at our peril.
Second, let me suggest that seeing behind the slick media hype, the $300 haircuts, and the spin is a difficult but essential exercise. The great leaders often don’t look like leaders at all. Churchill said of himself, “All babies look like me.” During the pacifist 1930s he was criticized and excluded from power as a regressive relic. Hitler had the worst haircut and moustache imaginable. Just rent Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” or the more recent Mel Brooks movie “The Producers” to see how easily he could be lampooned. Bill Gates is a Harvard dropout and the poster child for the nerd look. And, by the way, FDR spent most of his waking hours in a wheelchair.
Bottom line, folks, during the year ahead we are faced with a tough task, but one that really matters. Whom we choose to lead America into the second decade of the 21st century will have an impact on us all.
[Jim Castagnera, formerly of Jim Thorpe, is the Associate Provost/Associate Counsel at Rider University. His novel about 19th and 21st century terrorism, “Ned McAdoo and the Molly Maguires,” is available at www.lulu.com.)
December 29, 2007
The Top Stories of 2007
Below are the top 13 dtories, selected by the Greentree Gazette: The Business Magazine of Higher Education, that were posted on the magazine's website during the year just past.
Top Stories of 2007: #1
Federal grants fall short. From the Greentree Gazette
Top Stories of 2007: #2
Mitigating the massacre threat. From the Greentree Gazette
Top Stories of 2007: #3
A perfect storm is brewing in the world of college financing. From the Greentree Gazette
Top Stories of 2007: #4
Time to revamp the college fair. From the Greentree Gazette
Top Stories of 2007: #5
Migrating from Microsoft to Linux. From the Greentree Gazette
Top Stories of 2007:#6
Differential tuition for B-schools. From the Greentree Gazette