GUEST COLUMN: Where are the heroes, the true patriots? |

GUEST COLUMN: Where are the heroes, the true patriots?

By “true patriots,” I mean those in the sprit of “give me liberty or give me death.” I appreciate and encourage the no-risk patriots, those who support our troops and proudly celebrate the Fourth of July. These acts are important, but do not require much personal risk.

By “true patriots,” I mean those who are willing to rally to the defense and support of our country when it means something real, mainly in our present crisis – your money. I do not understand all this nonsense that is going on in the stock market, nonsense that is costing seniors their life savings and nonsense that has everyone truly scared. I am told the market is fluctuating hundreds of points a day because of European market insecurity- like Ford or Oracle sells a lot in Portugal or Spain.

While the experts blame a lack of confidence in the economy by you and me, the “little guys,” it is clear to me that the big fund managers and the super rich are just looking for excuses to cause the market to perform as it has. They make money if it goes up or down, while the rest of us lose our retirement funds. Of course we lack confidence when they manipulate the system so violently.

I wonder why the big finance managers don’t support our country. Yes, these are difficult times for many – all the more reason for the rich to support stability and even growth in our economy. Let’s not kid ourselves, a very small group controls massive amounts of wealth. If they said, “I am a patriot, I am going to stand by my country in these difficult times and do everything I can to stabilize and perhaps even grow our markets,” it would happen. Then they would be real patriots with something to risk, standing up and making our country the strongest in the world.

Our corporations are massing billions of dollars, oil companies are showing record profits, I am told that Apple Corporation alone has more than $80 billion cash – and the market managers are worried about losing three iPhone sales in Portugal? No, they just see another opportunity to make money at our expense.

It is not often that a person has a chance to be a real patriot and a hero – like our men and women on the battlefront, a rescuer at a disaster, or someone who saves a drowning child in a raging river. These current times call for new heroes – finance mangers, fund managers and the rich to rally to the aid of our country. These people control the money and they could stabilize the markets and prevent the average family from going under by doing nothing more then relinquishing that extra million they might have made by dumping shares on the market and forcing it down only to buy them back at a great profit. Being a real hero and patriot means standing for something bigger than personal interest, to perform for the greater good.

I am old enough to remember, while perhaps not fully appreciating, the sacrifices of my parents and their friends during World War II – the rationing and the look in my grandmother’s eyes when she had to drape a star in our window that represented her son’s service in the army, with a black scarf, the ultimate sacrifice. Giving up another quick profit, standing by the financial strength of this country seems to pale in comparison but would be so meaningful in these troubled, turbulent days.

If our financial geniuses just said “no,” they could stabilize the markets in minutes and create the certainty that they say they are looking for. Yes, there may be some risk, General Motors wouldn’t sell as many cars this year in China. But, isn’t it worth it to be strong, to be proud, and to take some risk for your country? It’s called patriotism.

– Ted Long is a former councilman, planning commissioner and past president of the Sacramento Valley division of the League-of California Cities. He currently serves on the Latino Affairs Commission and as foreman of the El Dorado County Grand Jury.

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