How to avoid going ‘wobbly’ on the truth


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Read the transcript:

REX TILLERSON ON HOW TO KEEP COUNTRY FROM GOING “WOBBLY”

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, there’s a little town in Virginia which you’ve visited many times, Lexington, Virginia, the home of Washington and Lee College but also the home of the Virginia Military Institute. It was at that place that former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was invited to come and give the commencement speech to the students.

He said, “If our leaders are to conceal the truth or we, as people, become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we, as America citizens, are on the pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”

He went on to say, “If we, as a people — a free people — go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem to be the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America.”

DR. REEDER: Well, yeah, wobbly until it all falls down. Now, I know everybody is reading this as a statement he is making concerning his previous boss, which is the president of the United States when he served as secretary of state, and I think that deserves analysis but that’s not where I want to go today.

I think the removal of Secretary of State Tillerson, while he was on a mission by the president and his claim he did not know that was going to happen, that certainly is an interesting story of leadership, and this particular president’s style and Mr. Tillerson, who has come out of the corporate world in order to be the Secretary of State at the request of President Trump.

And I think that’s a story, but what I think he’s done is put his finger on something very, very truthful. It’s interesting that it should be done in that particular area because you’ve got Virginia Military Institute and you’ve got, next to it, Washington and Lee College, both of which have very stringent honor codes and, noteworthy, continue to this day, to some degree, both of those colleges.

OUR COUNTRY’S LEGACY IS OF UPRIGHT LEADERS 

One of the previous presidents, as many know, of Washington and Lee College was Robert E. Lee and, in his presidency, he was asked about the honor code. And he affirmed it, but then he said, “Really, you only need one and that is you ought to conduct yourself as a Christian gentleman.” And by the way, these are student-affirmed and student-enforced in both cases.

Here’s the way Jesus said it: Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Don’t be nuanced, trying to technically say the right thing but communicate the wrong thing or don’t say the right thing in the wrong way.

The way I try to say it is this: Say what you mean, mean what you say and never be mean when you say it. And that’s what I think Tillerson is saying, at least on the say what you mean and mean what you say.

LACK OF TRUST IN POLITICIANS IS THE NORM NOW

When a leader says something, it’s got to be trustworthy. It has become almost accepted fact the proverbial, “How do you know when a politician is lying? If he’s moving his mouth.” And, while that’s a joke, it is also a very sad joke.

It ought to be the exact opposite. Our first president, now, whether he actually cut down that cherry tree or not and then turned himself in… but the fact that things like that develop around a man tells you something about the man. And the story of Abraham Lincoln, who walked all those miles to return the coin because it wasn’t his — the stories abound of the truthfulness and trustworthiness.

You can’t be trustworthy if you can’t tell the truth and one of the things that is so important for a country such as this one that is based upon law is that, if you lose trust in those who lead you, then everything goes wobbly.

TRUST IN LEADERSHIP VS LEADERSHIP CRISIS

Well, how do you attempt to undo the wobbliness? Well, what happens in a country like ours is the same thing that happens in a family and the same thing that happens in a business and, by the way — since I’m a pastor — the same thing that happens in a church. If you lose trust in the soul and the gravitas and the truthfulness of your leaders and your leadership, once you lose that trust, the next step is to multiply legislation and regulations in order to attempt to maintain order.

And so, what do you see in our country now? You see reems and reems and reems of regulations, and legislations and lawsuits and that’s how the country now tries to maintain order. It used to be you didn’t need a 20-page contract — it was a handshake.

It used to be you could just write it out on a page and, “Is that what you said?” “Yeah, that’s what I said,” “Is that what you said?” “Yeah.” “Alright, let’s sign it.” You didn’t have to have 15 different statements for 13 different agencies to sign and seal and get a notary in order to cover any possible loopholes when the reality is, once you get into legislation and regulation to cover loopholes because people aren’t trustworthy, well, those same people just create more loopholes and now you’ve multiplied more legislation and regulation.

If a company, if a church, if a family has leaders that are trustworthy and that speak the truth, are reliable and you know that, what they’re saying, they actually say what they mean, mean what they say and would never be mean when they say it, then you don’t need all of those regulations and you don’t need all of that legislation and you certainly don’t need all of the lawsuits in order to try to restrain people.

Therefore, Mr. Tillerson’s statement is that a nation goes wobbly if its leaders do not speak the truth and speak the truth in terms of what actually is really happening — this is reality, we don’t have an alternate reality that we’re trying to create verbally. Here is what’s happening, here are the facts and then people are trustworthy to affirm them and to report them.

INTEGRITY-FILLED JOURNALISTS ARE CRITICAL, TOO

By the way, not only in the three branches of our government do we need that kind of leadership — in the judicial, in the legislative and in the executive branch on the local, state and national level — but, Tom, we need it in what many have called the fourth estate of our government and that is journalism.

To have journalists who do their work well and report facts factually, that is also a blessing. And our founding fathers knew that was important, which is why they created the freedom of the press to hold people accountable and the free practice of religion to mature and maintain our freedoms and call people to truthfulness and trustworthiness.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

11 hours ago

Are you afraid to answer the phone?

Millions of Americans fear answering their phone due to a plague of billions of robocalls. These calls have made a mockery of the national Do Not Call Registry and touch on several public policy questions.

We had seemingly ended the problem of unwanted telemarketing calls. Congress authorized the Do Not Call Registry in 2003 after more than a decade of calls disrupting the peace and quiet of our homes. Fines of $11,000 per violation largely put telemarketing companies, with hundreds of thousands of employees, out of business.

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Why have unwanted calls returned? VOIP technology (voice over internet protocol) allowed anyone with a computer and an internet connection to make thousands of calls. A handful of responses can make thousands of calls worthwhile when the cost is almost zero. Furthermore, technology makes robocallers mobile and elusive.

By contrast, telemarketing firms employed hundreds of people at call centers. The authorities could find and fine telemarketers. Firms had to comply with the Do Not Call registry, even if forced out of business.

Technology further frustrates the control of robocalls. Spoofing makes a call appear to be from a different number. Spoofing a local number increases the chance of someone answering, defeats caller ID, and makes identifying the calls’ source difficult.

By contrast, technology allowed the elimination of spam email. It’s easy to forget that fifteen years ago spam threatened the viability of email. Email providers connected accounts to IP addresses and eventually identified and blocked spammers. Google estimates that spam is less than 0.1 percent of Gmail users’ emails.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) banned almost all robocalls in 2009 (political campaigns and schools were excepted). Yet the volume of calls and complaints from the public rise every year. And the “quality” of the solicitations is lower: legitimate businesses employed telemarketers, while most robocalls seem to be scams.

Telephone companies and entrepreneurs are deploying apps and services to block robocalls. The robocallers then respond, producing a technological arms race. The technology of this arms race, however, is beyond me.

I’d rather consider some issues robocalls raise. The root of the problem is some people’s willingness to swindle others. Although we all know there are some bad people in the world, free market economists typically emphasize the costs and consequences of government regulations over the cheats and frauds who create the public’s demand for regulation. People can disagree whether a level of fraud warrants regulation, but free marketers should not dismiss the fear of swindlers.

Robocalls also highlight the enormous inefficiency of theft. Thieves typically get 25 cents on the dollar (or less) when selling stolen goods. Getting $1,000 via theft requires stealing goods worth $4,000 or more. In addition, thieves invest time and effort planning and carrying out crimes, while we invest millions in locks, safes, burglar alarms, and police departments to protect our property. America would be much richer if we did not have to protect against thieves or robocallers.

Finally, having the government declare something illegal does not necessarily solve a problem. Our politicians like to pass a law or regulation and announce, “problem solved.” Identifying and punishing robocallers is difficult; the FTC had only brought 33 cases in nearly ten years. And less than ten percent of the over $300 million in fines and relief for consumers levied against robocallers had been collected. Government has no pixie dust which magically solves hard problems.

The difficulty of enforcing a law or regulation does not necessarily imply we should not act. The Federal Communications Commission, for instance, recently approved letting phone companies block unwanted calls by default, and perhaps this will prove effective. We should weigh the costs of laws and regulations against a realistic projection of benefits and laws failing to solve problems as promised should be revised or repealed.
Still, a law that accomplishes little can have value. Cursing robocalls accomplishes little yet can be cathartic. A law that costs little might provide us satisfaction until technology solves the problem.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

12 hours ago

VIDEO: Culverhouse vs. UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Why did the media get the story with Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. and Alabama so wrong?

— Is the Iowa slap-fight between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden a 2020 preview?

— Now that former ALEA head Spencer Collier has settled his case with the state over his firing, is the sordid Bentley saga over?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) to discuss medical marijuana, the prison special session and the lottery.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” that calls out Joe Biden for lying about the lack of lies and scandals in the Obama administration.

VIDEO: Culverhouse/UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Sunday, June 16, 2019

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

13 hours ago

Alabama team targets international connections at SelectUSA Investment Summit

Alabama is home to a diverse lineup of international companies, and the state’s business recruiters are looking to expand those ranks.

The economic development team is in Washington D.C. at the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which starts today and is the premier foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

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FDI is a significant part of Alabama’s economy. Last year alone, it came from 16 different countries, for a total of $4.2 billion in investment and 7,520 new and future jobs.

Since 2013, the state has attracted $12.8 billion in FDI, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. It’s spread across a variety of sectors, including automotive, aerospace and bioscience.

“Team Alabama is looking to capitalize on a record-breaking year for FDI in the state, by continuing to build partnerships with world-class international companies looking to grow in the U.S.,” said Vince Perez, a project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

SHOWCASING ALABAMA

SelectUSA is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and its annual summit regularly attracts top industry leaders and investors from around the globe. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 2,800 attendees from more than 70 international markets and 49 U.S. states and territories.

Participants of the past five summits have announced $103.6 billion in greenfield FDI in the U.S. within five years of attending, supporting more than 167,000 U.S. jobs.

“We are excited to have another opportunity to showcase Alabama’s vibrant business climate that’s been cultivated over the years through business-friendly policies,” Perez said.

“This year’s Investment Summit is very timely as we will be armed with the recently passed Incentives Modernization Act, which upgraded our already-strong incentive tool kit, making us more marketable than ever.”

The measure targets counties that have had slower economic growth. In particular, it expands the number of rural counties that qualify for investment and tax credit incentives. It also enhances incentives for technology companies.

Joining the Commerce Department at the SelectUSA Summit are PowerSouth, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Alabama Power Co., and Spire.

Speakers at the summit will include key government and industry leaders who will discuss opportunities in a broad range of areas and industries, such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture and technology.

FDI supports nearly 14 million American jobs, and it is responsible for $370 billion in U.S. goods exports. The U.S. has more FDI than any other country, topping $4 trillion.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

A ‘Story Worth Sharing’: Yellowhammer News and Serquest partner to award monthly grants to Alabama nonprofits

Christmas is the season of giving, helping others and finding magic moments among seemingly ordinary (and occasionally dreary) days. What better way to welcome this season than to share what Alabamians are doing to help others?

Yellowhammer News and Serquest are partnering to bring you, “A Story Worth Sharing,” a monthly award given to an Alabama based nonprofit actively making an impact through their mission. Each month, the winning organization will receive a $1,000 grant from Serquest and promotion across the Yellowhammer Multimedia platforms.

Yellowhammer and Serquest are looking for nonprofits that go above and beyond to change lives and make a difference in their communities.

Already have a nonprofit in mind to nominate? Great!

Get started here with contest guidelines and a link to submit your nomination:

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Nominations are now open and applicants only need to be nominated once. All non-winning nominations will automatically be eligible for selection in subsequent months. Monthly winners will be announced via a feature story that will be shared and promoted on Yellowhammer’s website, email and social media platforms.

Submit your nomination here.

Our organizations look forward to sharing these heartwarming and positive stories with you over the next few months as we highlight the good works of nonprofits throughout our state.

Serquest is an Alabama based software company founded by Hammond Cobb, IV of Montgomery. The organization sees itself as, “Digital road and bridge builders in the nonprofit sector to help people get where they want to go faster, life’s purpose can’t wait.”

Learn more about Serquest here.

15 hours ago

Alabama Power wins Electric Edison Institute awards for power restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) awarded Alabama Power with the EEI “Emergency Assistance Award” and the  “Emergency Recovery Award” for its outstanding power restoration efforts after Hurricane Michael hit Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in October 2018.
The Emergency Assistance Award and Emergency Recovery Award are given to EEI member companies to recognize their efforts to assist other electric companies’ power restoration efforts, and for their own extraordinary efforts to restore power to customers after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions or other natural events. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process.

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Alabama Power received the awards during the EEI 2019 annual conference.

Alabama Power’s extraordinary efforts were instrumental to restoring service for customers across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida quickly and safely,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “We are pleased to recognize the dedicated crews from Alabama Power for their work to restore service in hazardous conditions and to assist neighboring electric companies in their times of need.”

Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm to make landfall during the 2018 hurricane season, was a Category 5 hurricane with peak winds of 160 mph. The storm hit Mexico Beach, Fla., on October 10 before being downgraded to a tropical storm and traveling northeast through Georgia and several Mid-Atlantic states. Alabama Power sent more than 1,400 lineworkers and 700 trucks to help restore service to customers over the course of two and a half months.

Hurricane Michael also resulted in 89,438 service outages in Alabama Power’s territory. Due to their tireless work, Alabama Power’s crews restored power to 100 percent of customers within four days after the storm, dedicating more than 124-thousand hours to the recovery.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)