No. 1035



Have you ever asked yourself this question, “What can history teach us?” Well, the correct answer is that it can teach us a lot if we are careful to select our sources and the people to whom we choose to listen and read about.
From my perspective, I believe a worthy candidate to teach us something worthwhile is former President James A. Garfield, our 20th president who was elected in 1881 but served only 200 days before being assassinated. He has the distinction of being the only sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives to be elected president.
President Garfield came from very meager circumstances, and he once said, “Poverty is uncomfortable as I can testify; but nine times out of 10, the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be tossed overboard and compelled to sink or swim for himself.” To be sure, the American Free Enterprise system offers tremendous opportunity for the individual who is worth more than they are being paid.
During our visit today I want to talk with you about a “Can-Do” attitude. Back in President Garfield’s day, we did not have the massive amount of entitlement programs that we have today. In reality, our politicians have showered vast numbers of our citizens with all kinds of give-away programs in an attempt to get reelected. In these programs, it is almost impossible for any person to have to sink or swim for himself.
As a result of decades of taking care of people from the womb to the tomb, we have millions of people we call the “poor” who do not want to work. I talk with employers all the time who tell me they have to go through dozens and dozens of applications just to find one person who is even worth an interview. The good ones, after being on the job for a little while, leave because of a better offer by another company, which has also experienced the same dilemma.
Now, please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am all for taking care of the truly needy, but not healthy people who simply do not want to work. Some may counter that there are few jobs to be had, but this is not true. Go to the “help wanted” section of any newspaper and you will find many, many jobs just waiting to be filled. It would be different if many people were compelled to sink or swim, as President Garfield was saying. Without the give-away programs, millions of our citizens would get serious about getting a good education or the training necessary to fill these jobs.
Who but God knows what the future holds? There may be a day coming when all of us, and also our nation, will need a “Can-Do” attitude. I am from the old school and, other than Social Security (which is really my own money), I have never taken a handout of any kind from the government. My attitude has always been, give me an opportunity and then get out of my way. To be sure, I realize because of health or other issues, many people have not enjoyed the blessings I have had, and I am truly grateful for those blessings.
When it comes to having a “Can-Do” attitude, I believe the late Paul Harvey hit the nail on the head when he said, “Get up when you fall down. We all fall down, but the biographies of those the world calls successful reveal that they get up when they fall down. Sometimes more than once when they fall down they have had to pick themselves up and dust themselves off and keep on keeping on.”
Those who share my convictions understand that there is a good feeling that comes when we know we are pulling our own weight. We must get back to the old standard of an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)