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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Parker: Does Cathy define America?

BY STAR PARKER
FOUNDER & PRESIDENT
COALITION ON URBAN RENEWAL & EDUCATION

I retrieve and open a large envelope from today's pile of mail.

Inside is a press release announcing "Chik-fil-A Founder to Receive 2008 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership."

I discover that Chik-fil-A founder is 87-year-old Atlanta businessman S. Truett Cathy. Reading about Cathy, amidst today's headlines, I am wondering if his story is what America is about, or was about.

Cathy built, and today is owner/operator, of the privately held Chik-fil-A fast food chain, with more than 1400 locations and sales of over $2.6 billion dollars. He's from humble roots in rural Georgia and opened the first Chik-fil-A store in Atlanta in 1967.

In contrast to stereotypes equating business, particularly big business, to greed, Cathy's life and work has been defined by service and Christian charity. The corporate mission statement of Chik-fil-A is "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chik-fil-A."

Chil-fil-A stores are closed on Sunday to allow employees to devote the day to faith and family.

Cathy established a scholarship fund in 1973 for Chik-fil-A employees and to date around 23,000 have received more than $24 million in scholarship funds. In 1984 he established the WinShape Foundation which last year alone spent $18 million supporting a network of foster homes, camps, scholarships, and marriage counseling programs.

The Simon Prize, which Cathy has just received, is awarded by the William E. Simon Foundation, established by Simon, who was the 63rd Treasury Secretary of the United States.

Like Cathy, Simon believed in America, in freedom and free enterprise, and was a man of faith. The giving themes of his foundation, as noted on the foundation's website, are in the areas of "education, faith, and family."

Unlike Cathy, Simon built his wealth in the area which is now quintessentially associated with greed -- finance. Before becoming Treasury Secretary in 1974, he was a Wall Street bond trader at Salomon Brothers. After, he set up firms dealing in mergers and acquisitions, financial services, and banking.

As Wall Street executives are dragged to hearings, to be mocked, blamed, and threatened by Democratic Banking Chairman Chris Dodd, it's worth quoting Simon, who passed away in 2000, as his creed appears on his foundation's website:

"The free enterprise system has blessed the United States of America with the greatest prosperity, the highest standards of living, and, most important, the greatest individual freedom known to man. If we can preserve this system, and our freedom, we can look forward to turning over to our children, and our children's children, an America that is more productive, prosperous, and stronger economically, financially, morally, and spiritually, than the one we inherited."

How, from this, did we become a nation of blame, bailouts, and entitlement?

Wal-Mart has just released its quarterly report showing sales and earnings up 7.5 percent and 9.8 percent respectively. Wal-Mart, founded and built by one of America's great entrepreneurs, has been under endless attack from the political left. Now, in tough times, Americans are happy to have a source of low priced, high quality merchandise.

Average nationwide retail gasoline prices this week are $1.95 less a gallon compared to July -- a drop of almost 50 percent. In a Gallup poll done last year, most Americans attributed high gasoline prices to oil company greed. Are they going down now because oil companies are becoming generous?

No doubt, these are hard times.

Here's my prediction. The more Americans believe that our future depends on politicians, political fixes, and bailouts, the bleaker our future will be.

If we see America as a country defined by men like S. Truett Cathy, Bill Simon, and Sam Walton, we'll re-establish firm footing on American principles and re-build our country, our prosperity, and our leadership.

Star Parker is president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education and author of the new book White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay.

Prior to her involvement in social activism, Star Parker was a single welfare mother in Los Angeles, California. After receiving Christ, Star returned to college, received a BS degree in marketing and launched an urban Christian magazine. The 1992 Los Angeles riots destroyed her business, yet served as a springboard for her focus on faith and market-based alternatives to empower the lives of the poor.


8 comments:

cinemaphile85 said...

"Chik-fil-A stores are closed on Sunday to allow employees to devote the day to faith and family."

While that's an admirable idea, in practice it doesn't really work. What if all businesses and services became Christian and followed Chik-fil-A's example? Criminals would know to commit all of their crimes on Sunday, since all the Christian cops will be at home on their day of rest. And I guess I should plan my illnesses and injuries accordingly too, since Christian doctors aren't allowed to work on Sunday.

I guess Christians haven't really given this whole "convert the world to our religion" thing a lot of practical thought.

Bob Ellis said...

cinemaphile85, believe it or not, there really was an American history prior to the last 30 years or so. And in the mists of that ancient history, most or almost all businesses were closed on Sunday. I'm not that old and I can remember growing up when there were no grocery stores, department stores, and the rarest gas station open. People knew the businesses would be closed in observance of Sunday, so they got what they needed head of time.

And essential services such as police, fire, hospital, etc. worked as a service of public safety and took off a different day of the week (I used to be a cop, so I've actually seen this amazing practice occur first hand).

See, it's not so hard to figure out...unless you're a liberal who just loathes the idea anyway.

cinemaphile85 said...

Oh, see I always took "day of rest" literally. Meaning, you're not allowed to work at all and everyone must observe it on the same day of the week. I missed the verses that exempt police officers, doctors, paramedics, and firefighters from that rule.

Bob Ellis said...

Look in the Bible for Sabbath-related passages such as the one where the farmer's ox is stuck in a ditch. God allows for essential tasks on the day of rest. He's not as stupid nor as mean as liberals make him out to be.

cinemaphile85 said...

Not AS stupid as liberals make him out to be? Well, I guess you think he is at least SOMEWHAT stupid, eh?

Colin said...

Bob,

I'm just writing to make a personal request. PLEASE do not put me in the same category as this CP85 character.

Thanks,

Colin

Bob Ellis said...

cinemaphile85 , even we conservatives don't give him enough credit for his genius...but at least we don't automatically assume he's a moron.

Bob Ellis said...

Now you see what I have to put up with, Colin?

Though there are some similarities, Colin, don't worry. I think you're certainly more reasonable than cinemaphile85. :-)

 
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