MARSHALL PLAN – VI: Conclusion

The Lakeville Journal, Thursday, 6/25/15

“Harvard announced Wednesday that the billionaire hedge fund manager John A. Paulson had given a $400 million endowment to support the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences – the largest gift in the university’s history.

“As soon as the gift was announced, a chorus of criticism erupted, much of it mocking Mr. Paulson for choosing to add to Harvard’s wealth rather than extend his generosity to causes of institutions that help the needy.

“The best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, for example, wrote on Twitter, “It came down to helping the poor or giving the world’s richest university $400 million it doesn’t need. Wise choice John!””

Mr. Paulson’s $400 million could have raised our boats in Bridgeport, Baltimore, Bristol, North Charleston, Hartford’s North End, Cleveland as well as Ferguson, Missouri, for many years. Of course, there wouldn’t have been quite so many “naming” opportunities as in Cambridge, but the country might have been the better for it.

Persuasion is one of the major tasks of the Lakeville Plan. Up and running, we might have scoped Mr. Paulson out, laid siege, persuaded, and then done everything to make certain that the kids in the schools of those cities learned not a national core but a personal one. This would have led to young people becoming “hooked” by the future in front of them, and put them off hanging around waiting to get into trouble. Together we would have tutored these kids in how to earn more, how to build a career, how to return the US to a nation of drive and determination. And of course we would, in so doing, have provided industry with capable, well-trained, ready-to-go workers they need so badly. Win/win.

As a sidebar: what could a plan like this mean economically to our own “Brigadoon”? Let’s imagine a senior class at HRHVS of fifty, all of whom have received $624 their final year. No matter how that money is spent – saved, shared amongst a family, thrown to the winds of youth- that means the local economy of the area inherits $31,200 in goods and services delivered. Multiply that by ten: $312,000.

For every Lakeville/Salisbury student who starts in grade 1 and concludes in grade 12, he/she will have “earned” $4062. Multiply that by 1155 and we see that the value of goods and services spreading into our communities amounts to a very considerable $4,791,610 over ten full years, not including students who move, drop out, go off to private schools.

For our donors, this would mean less than $50,000 a year, for which they enter the fast track for talent and ability to keep their industries in the forefront of the world’s industrial leaders.

What we want is to rebuild the nation. Employ those who aren’t working. Build our consumer base. Put more families into situations that inspire them. Return to the international status of innovator supreme.

And while the Lakeville Plan is doing this, we’re clearing other dry brush from around the base of stores, factories, homes, so that “looting” can become an incident in our pasts.

We think these are all achievable goals. Who do we need on our Lakeville Plan board to make this plan feasible? Not in order of importance: a mayor or first selectman, an insurance consultant, someone with a solid legal background, a media wizard, an experienced fund-raiser. Bare bones but manageable and effective, united in vision and enthusiasm.

As an apolitical plan, there should be no bias or political brou-hah-ha. If a town is selected as a donee, its council or mayoralty or schoolboard, police, fire, ambulance services, are the movers and shakers. They know what they need, what they want, how best to utilize an industrial gift. It is they who will be interacting with the donor personnel. Voting on municipal issues and budgets should continue as before. No one in the donee town or city will have any reason to complain about unfairness.

Can this be done?

We think yes. Feel free to adopt or adapt the Plan. Or, if readers will, we’re happy to receive your suggestions for the board, or indeed suggestions to make the Lakeville Plan more effective. Our aims are still simple and only two: stop looting after incendiary events, and build a new work force for our faltering industries.

Duplicate the names and talents we already know: Gates, Buffet, Paulson, et al, foundations galore. We believe they’ll see the benefit of the plan to their own organizations.

The Lakeville Plan is not the country’s most gigantic or self-important make-believe entity. It is simply one measure we can take to help our nation “get on the right tracks.” One effort to reverse the results of all those public opinion polls, one shot at building not only public confidence in the future, but also at actually doing something about it.

We want all our students, all their parents, all our industries to be proud again of having status among their peers. The Lakeville Plan rewards taking small risks for big payoffs. We need industrialists and stockholders around the country to see and to understand this, that the Lakeville Plan might even raise their bottom lines, too. The targeted towns receive morale boosts, financial assistance, face-lifts and new goals, skills, and a sense of growing purpose. Not to mention the idea that looting could well become a thing of the past.

There would be no reason for it.

jneufeld@lakevillejournal.com

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