FPA Annual Meeting: The Big Picture Side
The “potholes” on the road ahead come from government, from America’s changing culture, and from business challenges. Yet, people in the United States can navigate them to be successful. In the process, the U.S. economy and culture will continue as a standard against which much of the world judges progress.
That sense emerged from three “big picture” speakers at the FPA 2016 Annual Meeting. In extending its big picture role, FPA brought these national leaders to the podium to look at who is shaping today’s American society and why it is going in new directions.
Secretary Carlos Gutierrez is former Secretary of Commerce and former CEO and Chairman of the Board at Kellogg. He said that the United States is simply “the safest place in the world in which to invest.” He continues by saying, “If you don’t have a good U.S. business you probably can’t be a global leader.” Yet, he notes that in the political arena, it has become fashionable to knock business. Gutierrez sees that as a threat that business has to combat. Here’s how he suggests doing that: Focus on the local community and employees—work locally. “It has to be done on the ground, in each facility,” he says.
Howard Fineman is a political analyst for MSNBC and Global Editorial Director of the Huffington Post Media Group. “America is going through one of its identity crises,” Fineman observed. Among a range of issues is the need to integrate into a global economy. The most glaring symptom of the identity crisis is the obstructionism in Congress. Fineman paints a picture of the Congress—not debating across the aisle—but with each side turning its back to the other, effectively stopping any communication.
David McCullough, Pulitzer-prize winning author, also dissected the tumult in America today from his perspective. As an author of historical non-fiction, McCullough says we face some of the challenges because of the way we teach in our educational system, particularly in covering history. He sees a “decline in the teaching of who we are, why we are, and what we stand for.” McCullough quoted President Harry Truman saying, “The only new things in the world is the history that you don’t know.” McCullough also sees shortcomings in writing skills. That impacts our society because “words are what we think with. So a decline in vocabulary is a decline in means of thinking.” He believes that what seems to be turmoil in the U.S. is the continuing evolution of America. “There was never a simpler past,” he emphasized.