Today as I leafed through the daily newspaper and glanced over the eye grabbing headlines I was just about ready to toss the whole thing into the recycle bin (The bathroom trash can) when an article about our current President's desire to cut our dependence on foreign oil by one third by the year 2025. The article spoke of his desire and how that this was one of his stated goals less than 3 months ago when he spoke in his State of the Union address. The article continued to explain that the President did not offer any plan as to how we could do this but did make the excuse that the current events in the world had taken our government's attention since the day of his speech. In the media's view it is obvious that the events of the world have out weighed the importance of our domestic recovery and that it was only natural for it to take a back burner. After all our government can only do so much!
As I read this I wondered to myself what has changed? Do we not live in the day of greatest advantages ever? Do we not have the most educated population that America has ever seen? You see I ask this because it does not appear that we, as a country are able to solve our own problems! I say this as a teacher of 5th grade students who are studying the Civil War, Slavery, and the many other events that filled this portion of America's timeline.
Let us look at the year 1862. Abraham Lincoln has been President for 1 year, the Civil War has just begun, and our government has authorized the greatest national project ever undertaken...The Transcontinental Railroad! This project was the answer to 370 years of exploration for the fabled Northwest Passage and with it's completion the United States would be connected from sea to shining sea. So I ask you how was it possible for the government of 1861 who was engaged in the worst conflict this country had ever seen to under take such a monumental task? They turned it over to private industry and allowed them to do what they do best.
You may look at this and say what does this have to do with where we are today? Let me answer you by saying that our government of 1861 offered some great incentives to the companies who were willing to undertake such a task. They gave them land and money! Each company received 6,400 acres of land and $48,000 in government bonds for each mile of track they laid. Simply put they were rewarded for success. If they failed they got nothing. Progress was rewarded not failure.
So in the end the government of the 1860's saw our country through a Civil War and also oversaw the greatest project ever under taken to date. Both changed our country forever. Our leaders, both elected and those in the business world could learn a lot from the past!