Benno Muller-Hill, a professor of Genetics, tells the story how one morning in High School he stood last in line of 40 students in a schoolyard. His physics teacher had set up a telescope so that students could view a planet and its moons. The first student stepped up to the telescope. He looked through it, however, when the teacher asked if he could see anything, the boy said “no.”
His nearsightedness hampered his view. The teacher showed him how to adjust the focus and the boy finally said he could see the planet and its moons. One by one, all the students took their turn looking through the telescope, seeing what they were supposed to see. Finally, the second to last student looked into the telescope and announced he couldn’t see anything.
“You idiot,” exclaimed the teacher, “you have to adjust the lenses.” The student tried, but finally gave up and said, “I still cannot see anything. It is all black.”
The teacher, disgusted with his inept student, looked through the telescope himself, and then looked up with a strange expression. The lens cap still covered the telescope. None of the students had been able to see anything.
Sometimes people just go along with the status quo – the popular thinking. If someone else is thinking it, doing it, it must be right. Often people feel secure in numbers, when everyone else is doing the same thing.
Earlier this year, leaders of the Chamber went to Washington D.C. to meet with members of our federal delegation. We discussed the need to widen I-77 and expedite the “Red line” for commuter rail service to Lake Norman. We shared with our delegation the frustrations business had with the uncertainty when it comes to regulation and health care costs. Our Senators and Members of Congress were attentive to our comments and we felt our trip was productive.
However, it was listening to the comments and rhetoric at some of the seminars and programs we attended where I heard the same partisan comments and divisive rhetoric that has placed this nation in a financial calamity.
I am as convinced today as I have ever been that government cannot and will not solve the fiscal challenges facing America. The backbone of our economy is our small business and it will be the success of our housing market, retailers, main street shops, and small business that will turn the economic tide.
It’s not what government can do to help; it is getting government out of the way. Rewarding hard work and entrepreneurship, providing incentives for taking calculated risks, expanding business, and adding payroll.
We cannot wait for Washington to rescue our economy. However, we can begin to lay the foundation for our own success by working together, supporting local business – buying local, and electing people in November and in the coming years that get that message.
Like the students, we can either blindly follow the trend or remove the cap and discover the unbridled possibilities when we work hard, work smart, and work together