“what will make them good and strong and great”

This one ties in with the discussion about the American Dream changing from ideals to material things. In the latest Harvard Business Review Ideacast, guest Richard Adelstein discusses his book, The Rise of the Megacorporation. 

With about 3 minutes left, he says:

William Jennings Bryan famously said at the Democrat Convention of 1896, I believe, when he was discussing this general problem, he said, ‘I don’t think we should worry so much about what will make Americans rich we should worry about what will make them good and strong and great…

The general problem he referred to was the idea that people were trading away initiative and responsibility to large-scale corporations. That they would essentially become workers wanting a job, rather than someone going out in the world to find ways they could earn their keep by producing value for others and being responsible for their own enterprises. That this initative-less state would lead to “different kinds of attitude about government…about work…about economics”.


I liked the Bryan quote. We talk so much about ‘helping the poor’ and the ‘middle class’ by doing things like increasing the minimum wage, spending more government money, sending everyone to college…and so on…that we never seem to talk about what individuals can do for themselves, what they should be expected to do for themselves.

You have access to free education. Be thankful and use it to its fullest. You have access to countless resources at your library. Be thankful and use it. Make good decisions. Take care of your stuff. Be responsible. Plan for the future. No job should be beneath you. Don’t blame others for your problems. Look for solutions you can control. If someone gets in your way, go look for another road. Learn from your mistakes, don’t keep making the same ones over and and over.

There are success stories from every walk of life, every demographic. Find one that suits your preferences and ask them for advice.

Rather than reject the land of opportunity because it has given you some knocks, embrace it and keep trying. You will get stronger and better.

As a side note, I was driving through a McDonald’s this evening. As I sorted the ones to hand to the cashier so the George Washingtons were all facing the same way, I told my son that was something I picked up at one of my first jobs when I learned to run the cash register. The owner of the business trained me to put the bills in the drawer organized to make it easier for her to deposit later. It stuck. One of those minor little things that I learned on a job that doesn’t seem good enough for so many.

1 thought on ““what will make them good and strong and great”

  1. Pingback: Bad Teacher | Our Dinner Table


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s