CHANGE_ Everyone in any kind of business knows that complacency is death, and yet our natural desire for stability often makes us forget just how important it is to promote change. Change is the genie in the bottle of commerce. If it weren’t for the latest style, the new and improved, and the amazing breakthrough technology, profits would stagnate and all growth would cease. The faster the pace of change, the greater your turnover; and the higher your rate of turnover the greater your return on invested capital. Every change is a rebirth. Put simply, the more things change, the faster things that remain the same disappear, and the faster things change the more opportunities you create to make money.
That said, I want you to ask yourself how often you apply this fundamental principle of change to areas outside of your immediate business dealings. Specifically, I want you to think about Old Glory.
We have seen many changes in our nation since 1776. We have also weathered many challenges. But the challenges we confront today are more important for our future survival and prosperity than any we have ever faced in the past. We face gargantuan competition from emerging economies only recently converted to our way of commerce in Russia, China, India, and dozens of smaller nations. We face threats of annihilation from tens of millions of people sympathetic with terrorists, particularly from militant Islamic sects, who want to destroy us before our way of life gains stronger footholds in their cultures. Additionally, the borders of our nation are besieged by millions of illegal immigrants who will do anything to nibble at our prosperity. How do we meet these challenges? I say we take hold of change to direct the course of history before history, like a hungry python, tries to swallow us. How do we do that?
We change Old Glory. Our flag is the symbol of our nation and our way of life, and a simple change in its design would do more to promote our future prosperity than all the rhetoric and all the policies and all the military strikes in history combined. Our flag is the most potent bit of information the world has ever known. Let us broadcast a new and vital message that will dig into the hearts and minds of people everywhere and convince them at a glance that we are here to stay, and that we mean business.
I propose a constitutional amendment to alter the design of our flag so it will reflect more accurately a contemporary view of The American Dream that will win friends, intimidate enemies, and influence people everywhere to admire, support, and emulate our way of life and to respect our leadership. Specifically, I propose that we remove the fifty stars from our flag and replace them with forty-nine gold dollar signs and a bald eagle. The inviting blend of red, white, blue, and gold colors alone justifies this change. But the symbolism speaks even more aggressively.
Let us announce to the world, despite trade deficits, that we are prepared to let the euro, the yen, the yuan, the pound, the peso, the ruble, the rupee, and the rial fend for themselves if they can – or give in to the dollar. We trust the dollar. Let us stand up and shout proudly to all the world that greed is out of the closet and that greed is good and natural and the most powerful motivator known to man; that money is the salvation for people everywhere; that our way of life is superior; and that when it comes to management of assets and means to acquire more assets, we are the best and the brightest. Let us proclaim from above our highest rooftops that we are determined to maintain our role of world leadership and that we will dominate world markets.
And finally, let us address directly those waves of immigrants and would-be immigrants clamoring to reach our shores. Let the symbol of Old Glory inform them: Don’t give me any more of your tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free so they can add to taxpayers’ burdens by taking advantage of our free education, welfare subsidies, Medicaid, and social services. Give me only ambitious, healthy, industrious farm workers, convenience store clerks, dish washers, maids, meat cutters, and landscape attendants; give me software engineers, motel managers, and accountants who can contribute. Give me people who can do the work that needs to be done for modest wages, and who can pay their own way and put hard dollars back into our economy.
And please, don’t send me any more wretched refuse from your teeming shores; any more homeless and tempest tossed. We have enough refuse and enough homeless and enough disturbed of our own. Send me news of hard dollars coming my way: Tax breaks and incentives so I can build a profitable plant on those teeming shores and then your homeless refuse can earn some capital on their own turf and learn to take care of themselves.
Why did past waves of immigrants come to America in the first place? Why did Serbs, Finns, Italians, Croats, Welshmen, Irishmen, and Germans show up at Ellis Island wearing signs pinned to their coats that said simply, “Butte America?” It wasn’t because they were on a quest to get in touch with their true feelings, to freely express their beliefs, or to discover the meaning of life in the wilderness. It was because their relatives told them about jobs in the copper mines that paid cold, hard cash. Surely it is time for those of us born in America to give our nation the same recognition that immigrants have always given her. Surely it is time to put dollar signs on the flag and in our hearts.
It is no longer enough to hitch your wagons to stars. If you want to gain a fighting edge today you need to hitch your wagon to capital and then fight like hell to maximize your returns. Do that much. Take away the stars and add the dollar signs and one truly fierce-looking eagle to our flag and let the symbolism speak for itself. Do that much and the next time you stand to pledge your allegiance to our United States you will feel like you have good reason to lift your lamp beside this golden door – because that door will be 24 karat. Do that much and in time you will see gross domestic products you never imagined possible.
The greatest instrument of change is change itself. It is like a dose of fresh water from a fountain of youth. It revitalizes us because it forces us to pause, reflect for thirty seconds, then adapt. Change is good for corporations and good for America. And while it might be frightening to some people to reorganize a tradition to suit current trends, it can allow us to boldly assert our response to threats the world imposes. Dollars are our ace in the hole, and they will win you more happiness than a honeymoon. Certainly more happiness than a field of stars that only stand for dreams.
I offer one more suggestion for the future. Our coin and currency display our national motto, “In God We Trust.” That is true. We do. We are a deeply religious nation and I would never change that phrase. However, we are also a nation of atheists, secularists, humanists, agnostics, animists, and faithful believers belonging to every religion, denomination, and sect known to man. Consequently, among our religious majority, we find dozens of differing definitions of God. What in our culture besides this diverse religiosity is our most common denominator? I’ll tell you what. It is greed. Commerce. Capital. Making money. Greed is the one universal value that binds us all together. If three-quarters of our people look to God the Heavenly Father, nine out of ten also look to god the CEO, god the corporation, god the workplace, and god the market, and ninety-nine percent look to god the dollar. Even atheists appreciate sound earnings. Therefore, I propose at some appropriate time in the future that we ask Congress to authorize a second motto so we can print on new currency, particularly on larger denominations, the more militant phrase, “In Greed We Trust.” Congress should have no problem endorsing greed as a motto, and the motto should please nearly every market sector in America. It will also challenge the rest of the world to live up to our motto or lose.
Dollar signs on Old Glory. “In Greed We Trust” on our money. If you are going to stand at all, you need to stand tall.