The Makers Of Things
“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches […]
“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”
Obama’s Inaguration speech made a number of memorable points, but the one above, about “…the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things” really caught my attention.
Sure, we have been through a period of tremendously irrational risk taking in global commerce, but to a large extent this financial risk taking has been divorced from doing and making.
High financial reward was, once upon a time, connected directly to risk. Primarily risk of personal assets and wealth and secondarily risk to one’s reputation. But, reputations are not at risk when leaders of failed corporations can walk straight from one high paid job to another or have the audacity to ask for multimillion dollar bonuses because the extent of the failure was not as great as other failures.
The current financial crisis should give us a number of reasons to be hopeful. In recent years many industries have struggled to attract bright young graduates because the pay offered in finance (and
Our recent era of globalisation has been the race to the bottom, to the cheapest thing possible. Perhaps now the race will change with quality, provenance and reliability being valued more greatly? Thus globalisation would shift from cheapness of source, to what it should always have been, easiest route from maker to user. Of course, finance still has a role to play in all this, but it is a secondary service role.
One has to wonder if Obama’s urban identity puts him in a better position to understand “the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker” better than other politicians of a more suburban stripe. Remember, this is the man who said of his holiday plans, “my Kennebunkport is on the South Side of Chicago” (quote reported in the current edition of Monocle).