Solving Our Problems

(Originally written, April 1994)

As we entered the auditorium the crowd was eagerly awaiting the famous American. Because of the kindness of our bank, Davidene and I were able to sit on the third row of a full house. I guess that I was just curious to see and hear the guy who had made all the T.V. commercials. Was he simply rich and powerful, or did he really have something significant to say? It took two educators and two politicians just to introduce him; then Lee Iacocca took the podium. Seldom do we have the opportunity to see dynamic personalities up close. Some special memories for me are entertainer Wayne Newton, golfer Jack Nicklaus, comedian Bill Cosby, and song writers Bill and Gloria Gaither. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Mr. Iacocca, it reminded me of previous meetings with such magnetic personalities as General Norman Schwarzkopf, retailer Sam Walton, evangelist Billy Graham and Watergate’s reformer Chuck Colson. As Mr. Iacocca began to speak, I quickly started to take notes.

He talked about solving our problems in government and business. We were informed that politicians don’t solve problems, they just “manage” them and try to keep them from becoming a lot worse. We are successfully handing them over our kids to deal with in the next century. The problems of the federal debt (multiplying five times in fifteen years), the $60 billion annual trade deficit with Japan, our energy dependence (his solution is a 50 cent / gallon gasoline tax), declining education (he supports choice), gun control, and health care (someone has to pay for the uncovered 20%) are not being solved but worsening.

Iacocca stated that Clinton is right about our need to create new jobs. But 85% of new jobs are created by small business which is being hit with increased payroll taxes, workmen’s compensation claims, OSHA requirements, training costs, legal fees, and health care costs. In addition, in 1994 small business is being asked to pay the largest tax increase in decades, so it is not adding jobs, but using temporaries. In order to solve our problems we must undergo pain. We as a nation are not willing to do that, so we are passing the pain on to our children.

Chrysler was able to pay back their government guaranteed loan early. But their first repayment of $1.2 billion was delayed 60 days because the government had no provision to receive the money; they were not used to being repaid! Chrysler solved their problems by firing 11,000 people, getting lean, communicating and breaking down walls, establishing true vendor partnerships, and empowering their people. He encourages talking out problems “face to face”, and in one span, he held 200 town meetings. Iacocca encourages young adults today to work hard, be a team player, find a mentor, and “never give up”. He attributes his cusses to persistence, never dwelling on the failures, but continuing to push ahead and solve the problem.

I left the Civic Center with a great respect for Lee Iacocca. His wisdom, insights, courage, and drive were challenges to me. I’m greatly concerned with him about our country and the difficult business environment. But I was encouraged to persist and solve each day’s problems, so that we can face tomorrow. The greatest problem solver that ever lived was Jesus Christ. He solved a problem bigger than business, government, and world economics. It is the problem of the human heart. The real answer to our problems of crime, education, drugs, international strife, credit, and deteriorating families lies in Him alone. He has faced our problems, and accepted the pain that they have caused. Will we as a nation and as individuals face up to reality? The decision is ours.

Seeking the Solution,

Kent

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About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

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