Bretton Woods

New Hampshire is a gentle state. Unassuming, and bountifully peaceful. A leisurely ride along U.S. 302 through the White Mountain National Forest underlines that sense of peace and punctuates it with a tiny bit of history. It is called Bretton Woods. It was there in a rambling summer resort back in July of 1944, that 44-nations met to plan for the post-world War II economic recovery.

The Mount Washington Hotel where the conference took place is still a thriving resort today. It’s wraparound veranda frames the magnificent Mount Washington and other peaks in the Presidential Range.

Financial leaders, back then, talked, an negotiated and discussed and simplified, a way to make international monetary policies fair and workable following the expense of World War Two. The conference lasted 20-days.

The Bretton Woods accord basically created a system of fixed exchange rates. The value of the Dollar was set a $35 per oz of gold. All other currencies were pegged to the dollar and respective countries were obliged to maintain their currencies value.

The agreement maintained an economic stability for twenty years, but eventually hugh balance of payments deficits shook its foundation and finally in 1971 President Nixon ended it by cutting the link between the dollar and gold.

The arrangement was so successful, 15 years after its collapse many economists and politicians today long for a return to Bretton Woods.

We’ve Lost Our Common Sense

I’ve always thought teaching was the noble profession. I still do, but I have second thoughts when I read about some of the things happening in our schools these days.

There was a teenager in a Texas classroom that was suspended for two days for taking a cell phone call from his Dad who is serving in Iraq. The school has a policy of not allowing students to use cell phones in class. Apparently a teacher saw him answering his cell phone as he walked out of class and the kid was punished by suspension for two days.

Where is the common sense of the Copperas Cove High School authorities?

All of us understand the need for rules, but some rules must have exceptions and this was one of them. If school authorities cannot see that rigid intolerance belies learning then they ought not be in education for when the absolute becomes rigid, learning suffers.

Other examples: One school has a rule of no tactical exchanges between students. One little girl hugged another because she heard the other child’s Mother had just died. The kid was briefly suspended from school.

A few years ago the school board in Altoona, Pennsylvania had a policy allowing historical or religious documents to be displayed for 25 days in the school building.

The Ten Commandments was the first posting.

The caveat was that no document could show disrespect to an individual, ethnic group or religion.

Then the school board learned that the Baha’i faith, Wicca, atheism and gay rights history were to be displayed, they quickly voted unanimously to stop considering documents for display.

Rather than take away the words or images and icons of various beliefs, because they are controversial. Rather than hide them in textbooks on dusty shelves, perhaps the school board should have considered festooning the school with many documents as they walls could hold. And while they’re at it, hang the paintings and pictures of the great teachers from many beliefs.

Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Vishnu, Gandhi, Zoroaster, Chief Seattle, Buddha and many more. Our children need examples of inspiration, not intolerance and fear.

Campaign Bickering

Unfortunately this Democratic Presidential campaign has debased into the common denominator of bickering. We continue, after the Pennsylvania debate on ABC, to have a litany of finger pointing. He did this. She said that. Her action is worse than mine. He’s an elitist. He or she attacked first. It’s interesting most of us don’t tolerate that behavior in our children, why should we in our candidates.

So far, in this Presidential candidate selection campaign, the issues have received short shrift, while the personality, integrity, and history of each candidate has come under personal attack.

Most people want, not only their candidates, but the opposition too, to tell us where they stand on issues that concern us. And just once, I’d like to hear one candidate say of another, he or she has a good heart and the best intentions, but I think my way is better for you and here’s why.

The issues for American voters is not who knows whom. Who worked with whom and what did it mean, if anything.

The issues are living wage jobs, affordable health care, a solid and competitive education, a clean and sustainable environment, safe streets, a reasonable fuel price and drug free neighborhoods.

Debate these things and you have a legitimate candidacy of service. Debate the other stuff and you’re only interested in getting elected.

Gobbleygook

We all get junk mail, both at home and now on the internet. Spamming is commonplace and most of us dump the unsolicited junk emails without reading them.

Something came across my electronic desk today that made me pause and reflect about our bureaucracy and the excess governmental verbiage called gobbledygook. I don’t know who wrote it. It was forwarded without attribution.

The truth of the adage that “less is more” is proven in the following email.

The Pythagorean theorem is explained in 24 words.
Archimedes’ Principle: 67 words
The 10 commandments: 179 words
The Gettysburg Address: 286 words
The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
The US Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words.

Need I say more?