HETRICK: The fools who tarnish our shining city on the hill

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Bruce Hetrick

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Matthew 5:14

En route from England to America in 1630, Puritan minister John Winthrop laid out a vision for his fellow colonists: “We must always consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill,” he said. “The eyes of all people are upon us.”

President-elect John F. Kennedy picked up the mantra in 1961, sharing Winthrop’s story and saying, “Today, the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill—constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.”

And from his nomination to his final day in office, President Ronald Reagan carried the torch.

“I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life,” Reagan said in his 1989 farewell address. “But I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

Two decades after Reagan, I watched the debt-ceiling debate, with all its bickering and backstabbing.

There were no “rocks stronger than oceans,” just sand swirling in a riptide.

There were no “people of every kind living in harmony and peace,” just partisans teeming with anger and self-interest.

As for doors “open to anyone with the will and heart to get here,” well, no.

In 2011, if there are congressional leaders “aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities,” leaders who care that “the eyes of all people are truly upon us,” they’re not showing it. Our dysfunctional government smacks more of Paul McCartney’s “Fool on the Hill” than the Book of Matthew:

Well on the way, head in a cloud,

The man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud,

But nobody ever hears him,

Or the sound he appears to make,

And he never seems to notice.

But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down

And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.

When our representatives were running for office last year, they told us the big issue was jobs. House Speaker John Boehner likes to ask President Barack Obama, “Where are the jobs?”

Well, I’d like to ask Boehner a question: Where is the promised job-creating legislation?

Sure, some say extending the Bush tax cuts, reducing the federal deficit, capping the debt ceiling, limiting regulations, weakening labor unions, rolling back health-insurance reform and slashing the federal payroll will help create jobs.

Some believe small-business owners like me will reap big savings from such measures and use the money to grow our companies.

But it’s not working. And if past is prologue, it rarely does.

As Will Rogers said during the Great Depression: “The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.”

In 1980, then-presidential candidate George H.W. Bush called it “voodoo economics.”

Yet his son, President George W. Bush, put the practice into play with two tax cuts and a trickle-down promise. Our current leaders extended those tax cuts.

Net impact: A 2011 Washington Post analysis says the Bush tax cuts have, so far, added $1.3 trillion to the national debt. Yet the resulting trickle didn’t translate into jobs. On the contrary, a 2009 Wall Street Journal analysis said the George W. Bush presidency delivered “the worst track record for job creation since the government began keeping records.”

During the Bush presidency, and despite the alleged tax-cut windfall, I had to stop creating jobs and start eliminating them. I found myself swimming in excess office space. I struggled to sustain the compensation and benefits my employees expected and deserved.

And with today’s dysfunctional government, it’s only gotten worse for my small business and others.

The dirty word, you see, isn’t taxes or government. It’s uncertainty—uncertainty born of chaos, gridlock and a focus not on, “We have your back, Ms. Business Owner,” but on, “Let’s stab the other party in the back so they won’t get re-elected.”

If you want to create jobs, dump the fools-on-the-hill routine. Be worthy of the Shining City. The eyes of all people are, after all, upon us.•


Hetrick is chairman and CEO of Hetrick Communications Inc., an Indianapolis-based public relations and marketing communications firm. His column appears twice a month. He can be reached at bhetrick@ibj.com.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Hello Dear Are you tired of Seeking Loans and Mortgages,have you Been Turned down constantly By your banks and Other Financial Institutions or Micro Finance scheme. This is let you know with 100% guarantee that we Offer loans ranging from $1,000 Minimum to $1,000,000.00 Maximum at 3% interest rate per Month. We give out LOANS for developing business. a competitive edge/business expansion. email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com We offer the following kinds of loans and many more; * Personal Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Business Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Consolidation Loan * Combination Loan * Home Improvement * Xmas Loans for contact to seek for loan email this email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com Thanks

  2. My name is Mr Henry Josh and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr Daniel Jones A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via fidelityloanfirm@outlook.com

  3. Greetings to everyone reading this comment!!! I am Greg William by name. I am out here to recommend the effort of Mark Oscar,I was in need of a consolidation loan amount of 50,000 and as soon as I got in contact with Mark Oscar Loan Firm on Wednesday last week and on Friday last week as well I receive an alert from my bank(Royal Bank of Scotland Group) that the fund was transferred,I want everybody on this site to contact Mark Oscar now via email on how to get a loan because I got my loan from them and I am very happy,so contact them now. Oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com Thanks!!!!!!

  4. Elected officials, like Mourdock, get vested in 8 years. It takes 10 years for all other public employees, most of whom make a lot less money. So much for the promise to finish out his term.

  5. Great state treasurer and a good man!! Just curious if the folks who didn't quite understand his quote would like to tell my daughter-in-law that God didn't intend her! Mourdock's comment was correct but twisted and the article didn't mention that his opponent and the press let the impression stand that Mourdock meant that the rape was intended. Stupid people!!