I typically delete, unread, messages like the one that prompted this post. I understand the good intentions of my family and friends when they send them… and admit to forwarding (after vetting at snopes or another spam killing site) a rare few.
So I don’t know exactly why I started reading this one, but I’m glad I did. For those who don’t remember, Lee Iacocca was the man who brought Chrysler Corporation back from the brink during the 1980s. I remember him on TV challenging car buyers — “If you can find a better car… buy it.” Now he’s 86, still active, and the author of two books, the latest Where Have All The Leaders Gone? was published in 2007.
For the cynics out there, yes he was (and is) selling a book. Yes, there are some rather partisan, politically incorrect statements attributed (falsely) to him. In the unaltered text he took fair aim at BOTH sides. But more than this… he makes some rather uncomfortable points, echoing many of the same worries many of today’s families have for the future.
The excerpt, minus the more partisan, objectionable alterations made by some spammer, is enough to have your blood pressure creeping up as you read. In the opening of the book, Iacocca says:
Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? We should be screaming bloody murder! We’ve got a gang of tax cheating clueless politicians trying to steer our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters robbing us blind, and we can’t even run a cash-for-clunkers program without losing $26 billion of the taxpayers’ money, much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “trust me the economy is getting better.”
Better? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic.
You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.
The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Afghanistan, Iran is completing their nuclear bombs and missiles and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving ‘pom-poms’ instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of the ‘America ‘ my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?
I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have. The Biggest ‘C’ is Crisis! (Iacocca elaborates on nine C’s of leadership, with crisis being the first.)
Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.
On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A hell of a mess, so here’s where we stand.
We’re immersed in a bloody war now with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. But our soldiers are dying daily.
We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the world, and it’s getting worse every day!
We’ve lost the manufacturing edge to Asia , while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs.
Gas prices are going to skyrocket again, and nobody in power has a lucid plan to open drilling to solve the problem. This country has the largest oil reserves in the WORLD, and we cannot drill for it because the politicians have been bought by the flea-hugging environmentalists. Our schools are in a complete disaster because of the teachers unions.
Our borders are like sieves and they want to give all illegals amnesty and free healthcare.
The middle class is being squeezed to death every day.
These are times that cry out for leadership.
But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: ‘Where have all the leaders gone?’ Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.
Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?
We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.
Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping the government will make it better for them. Now, that’s just crazy. Deal with life.
Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when ‘The Big Three’ referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, look what Obama did about it!
Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debit, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.
I have news for the Chicago gangsters in Congress. We didn’t elect you to turn this country into a losing European Socialist state. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on NBC or CNN news will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?
Had Enough? Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I’m trying to light a fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope — I believe in America. In my lifetime, I’ve had the privilege of living through some of America ‘s greatest moments. I’ve also experienced some of our worst crises: The ‘Great Depression,’ ‘World War II,’ the ‘Korean War,’ the ‘Kennedy Assassination,’ the ‘Vietnam War,’ the 1970’s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years since 9/11.
If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it’s building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That’s the challenge I’m raising in this book. It’s a call to action for people who, like me, beleive in America. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close. So let’s tell ’em all we’ve had enough.
Pretty powerful, huh?
In December 2007 Iacocca launched a website intended to open a dialogue on the challenges he’s spoken about in the book. In a twist that’s loaded with irony, reports last year had the former executive, along with other, less well known execs, losing a chunk of their pensions and a “guaranteed-for-life” company car.
Guess they meant the company’s life… not yours. One more problem with America today. Agreements between business and workers mean nothing, loyalty and hard work go unrewarded and profits for the few are everything. I’ll be Mr. Iacocca has something to say about that too.