Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Harry Truman: A Little Humility & A Lot of Wisdom

A friend in Kentucky who arranged for my commission as a Kentucky Colonel sent me the following on former president Harry Truman:

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Harry Truman after the presidency

Harry Truman, from Missouri, was a different kind of President. He probably made as many important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

Historians have written that the only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri. On top of that, his wife inherited the house from her Mother.

When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There were no Secret Service agents following them.

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, 'You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale.'

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, 'I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.'

He never owned his own home and as president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth.

Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices.

Political offices are now for sale.

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, 'My choices early in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference.'

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Whatever happened to politicians who were both humble and wise?

Charles M. Grist

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of a change I would like to see in congress. If you agree, please pass it along to others you think will be interested. The incumbents won't go along with it. It would have to be someone trying to become a politician. If you have someone trying to become a politician in your area, pass this along to them.

    I want my congressional politicians to get one paycheck, and I want it to be from me. The way it is now they can get it from too many sources, such as speaking engagements, book deals, etc. I want my politicians to be loyal to me first, not special interests who want some favors for themselves. No other source of income allowed except from prior investments, 401Ks, etc. They shouldn't be allowed to accept one penny from anybody.

    The one exception would be they would get a percentage of the Gross National Product. It would be paid each January for the previous year. If the economy goes up, their bonus goes up. If the economy goes down, their bonus goes down. This way they have an incentive to get the economy going. The bonus would have to be connected to whether the National Dept goes up or down.