Americans’ “can-do” spirit will sustain the nation through today’s turbulent economic times, says former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, who delivered the keynote address at the 90th annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation in San Antonio.
Two simple things need to happen in order for the nation to move out of “can’t do” mode, according to Bradley.
“We need to put country ahead of party and we need to tell people the truth,” Bradley said. “As Americans, we share more than what divides us.” He cited good jobs, access to health care, a secure pension at retirement and access to education as examples of common goals for all Americans.
Regarding the current state of the U.S. economy, “the core problem is that we don’t save enough, both individually and as a nation,” Bradley said. As a result of spending more than we have as a nation, we have to borrow from non-Americans at a rate of around $4 billon per day, he noted.
Referring to the fiscal restraint that typifies America’s farmers and ranchers, Bradley said they learned an important lesson in the 1980s — “don’t borrow more than you can afford.”
On education, “the economic future of America is in the schoolrooms of our nation,” Bradley said. Doubling teacher salaries, increasing the length of the school day and increasing the number of days in the school year will go a long way toward securing a better economic future for America, he asserted.
“Americans need to wake up regarding the need to improve our public schools,” he said.
For starters, America needs a national educational standard, rather than different ones in each state, Bradley said. And parents must realize they are the most important persons involved in their children’s education; the second most important person is the child’s teacher.
With a new president and new administration, Americans can have hope that the problems facing the nation will be solved, through both collective and individual action, Bradley believes.
“This is our opportunity as a nation … there’s no limit to what we can accomplish,” he concluded.
Bradley currently serves as a managing director at Allen & Company, LLC, and is a member of the board of directors of Starbucks. Prior to representing New Jersey in the Senate (1979-97), he was an Olympic gold medalist in 1964 and a professional basketball player with the New York Knicks from 1967 to 1977, during which time they won two National Basketball Association championships. In 1982, Bradley was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.