Just got back from a trip to France to check in on some ancient family. You know what, they are different than us.
Big surprise, I know.
But, here's the thing: maybe we can learn something. My French language skills are horrible, but I did get some impressions.
Main thing, everybody is working and the trains are full at commuter time. Easy to find work there. We did not see a lot of bums and homeless.
In trying to figure out why, I had this idea: maybe it's because the French people are proud of their country and they are proud of what they do.
For example, when you ask a person on the street for directions to someplace, after you are sure that you have communicated exactly where you want to go, you will receive an absolute dissertation on how to get there - which streets to take, which not to take, which places are confusing and which are clear, and so on.
See, the French take pride in their everyday actions. And they expect respect for their efforts. And, last but not least, they take pride in their country. Such a simple idea.
Their solution for the folks who disrespected them was to cut off their heads. I saw a bust of Marie Antoinette, and you know what, I'd be happy to do the deed myself, if her attitude was anything like the statue.
But, I don't think we have a lot of pride in what we do everyday in the good ol' U S of A. We sure don't get any respect.
In fact, most jobs here seem to be structured to take pride out of the job. The implicit direction is this: Just do it quick and cheap, or we'll find someone who can do it quicker and cheaper.
Seems to me that if we can put a little room for pride into our jobs, then maybe we can put some respect into our country.
Most - not all - Americans who serve the public have that pride. Country and quality first, personal gain second.
Now, you Barry Obama cannot solve that question tomorrow, but maybe you can create a method to recognize the everyday folks who display that pride in work and service. Sure we do it for the military, but maybe we can do it for the rest of us.
If we can do that, then the question comes up: Should we recognize those who shame the country? I mean those folks who take advantage of the system and do not give anything back.
Personally, I'd rather see vigorous law enforcement directed at the cheats and crooks. Shame is not a bad thing, but jail may be more effective.
I'll be looking at the economics in a little bit.