Charles Rehn - Democrat for President 2004

A Conversation With America
Questions That Must Be Answered
Web Edition (c) 2002, 2003 Charles Rehn All Rights Reserved




An Open Letter To Business People


"The challenge before you will be to maintain your integrity in a culture that has devalued it. Living a moral life in an indifferent world is likely to be more difficult than you can imagine."

- Christopher Reeve June 13, 2003

This must be the 20th time I've written this... I've written drafts discussing economic theory, cultural trends, my personal outlooks on capitalism and such.  I decided the best thing to do is to simply cut to the chase.

Of, course, I have to say before anything else, that I have an incredible respect for anyone who sets out to create a business or organization.  It takes guts, vision, but most of all, tenacity and persistence.  And the people who work at and manage the majority of our businesses are brilliant. I really mean that.

But, for whatever purpose my path has led in life, if there's one thing I've been consistently a witness to, it is corruption. I can spot it a mile away. In all forms. I don't know if it's because I've experienced and witnessed more than other people, or if I notice it more because I'm the analytical type: I enjoy studying human nature and sociological conditions and rippling effects, and I've seen the harm it does.

Harm to people.

After a while, we just all sort of become numb to it, and roll our eyes. We say it's just business, it's part of the business culture and we roll our eyes, and we either go along or we change employers but we never actually confront the problem. And, little by little, the integrity of the system breaks down, and the machine doesn't work right anymore.

So, about corruption. It needs to stop. Period. If I'm president and you're involved in corruption, particularly with malice, then the bad news is that you won't like me. The good news is, I'm not vindictive. But, no deals.

Remember, corporations do not commit crimes.

When an employer asks people to break the law on their behalf, I consider that racketeering, implicit if not explicit extortion and an attempt to deprive someone of their civil, but most importantly, their inalienable rights after the fact.

I have some ideas that should put an end to the bulk of it, in a way that should greatly reduce accounting administration and reporting, as well as provide you with a means of providing company financial profiles that assure apples-to-apples comparison with other stock offerings. It really is time to return confidence to the markets.

The way to do that is through real transparency, marketing practices that are more oriented to long-term stability, and real investment in the economic infrastructure.   There are ways to do that which also give investors and typical non-investors an opportunity to invest in their communities and personal economic security. It's consistent with but will open up new frontiers in taking more local control of community responsibility.

None of it can occur without integrity.

We all do things from time to time that we wish we didn't.  The good news is, we always have a choice to stop or make an alternative decision. This would be a really good time, if that's the case for you.  If not, God bless ya.

The art of any competition, as with sports, is not how to get away with breaking the rules. The art is staying within the rules, and building a better mouse trap or technologies and techniques that go beyond what was believed to be possible. Separate the money from the art.

Of course, you first need to have just rules (as in justice, not law).

People who are against regulation conveniently forget that we began this nation with few rules.   We now have a tangled mess of laws that undermine the concepts of commerce, and it isn't because of a bunch of liberal lawmakers.

Long ago, America worked as a nation. We had a basic agreement... certainly it was about freedom and opportunity.. but we all had an agreement that good citizenship included an industrial complex that empowered America and Americans doing good, honest work. We were in it together.

It's time we took on the attitude that business is NOT separate from the social contract we make as citizens. That includes honoring the intent of matters regarding national security over business and economic interests.

We say that who we are as a nation - as a nation that generates business - as a nation in the midst of global economic domination - is one of human rights and compassion. Yet, there are many examples of businesses dumping products deemed chemically or biologically unsafe under our laws and standards in third world countries.

In Colombia, for twenty five cents, kids buy tubes of "glue" that, according to reports, does not work, but gets them really high... it's a by-product of an industrial adhesive made by an American company. One might say this is one way of disposing of toxic waste. It certainly does not reflect "American values".

Personally, I always have, and always will, speak out against corruption, and reward whistle blowers particularly when they have attempted to correct a situation first.  I also have a policy of informing political tattle tales, for whatever purposes, why they're being let go or encouraged to find work elsewhere.

The bottom line: I will not tolerate corruption. And when I say corruption, I'm really not talking about laws. I'm talking corruption of process and the undermining of the foundation and intent of our systems.

I hope it will not be necessary to create a federal program to compensate people for turning in criminals (and penalties for false reports). I wasn't in favor of TIPS. If you have read "Corruption and Me", there will be no mysteries about my zeal for putting an end to it. Of all the reasons I am running for president, this is the one issue I can say that, while I do it for us all, this one is personal. I doubt I can say that about anything else.

And, by the way, I include the government in these comments. Wherever corruption is found, it will be rooted out and destroyed, because it damages our economy, but, more importantly, because it harms people, and it does the most harm to the people who can afford it least.

Humanitarian Work

I understand the trend to place corporations in charge of the humanitarian work of the world. In theory, I agree with it. I believe there is a huge opportunity for partnership. My only concern would be the dampening of the spirit that calls to the people who commit their lives to humanitarian service.

For years, I have a been a "disciple" of encouraging non-profits to work on a more business-like model.  I don't know Walter Isaacson (formerly of CNN), but I applauded his move to the Aspen Institute for that very reason. The press release said it was because he "wanted to train leaders".

"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate power of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education."

—Thomas Jefferson

I don't agree with everything Jefferson said, but I do agree with the intent of nearly everything he said. In the case of non-profits, a great deal of their motivation is based on  passion, regardless of the reasons. Anything that impedes that passion represents a huge loss. Now, I know this trend is very well intentioned. And, it's great for public relations. But I request you be careful. Don't break anyone's spirit.

If you were to look at my resume... typically 10 pages or more... you might think I was not really qualified for anything. And yet, I could tell you of many, many things that are in play, careers I've assisted, people I've empowered, technologies and methodologies I've developed that are a part of every day life. I won't talk about those things, because I have no real proof.  I have always worked as a silent partner. I plant ideas.

It's the old Chinese proverb: go to the people, love them, understand them, teach them what they need to know, and when the job is done, if you've done yours, they will be proud that they did it themselves. Okay, not an exact quote, but you get the idea.

The question is, are you committed to the accomplishment, or the credit? I say that as an inquiry, not a criticism. What is the "self-interest"?  Think about that. Be conscious of how that influences your actions. The greatest compassion is in empowerment.

I have witnessed and respect the maginificence of human beings, and the incredible contribution every single person can make, to understand and trust people to adopt disciplines and methods that produce the greatest MEASUREABLE results.  I have rarely found a bad idea that didn't have some merit, or didn't expose a valid consideration, in a concentric plan. The most ingenius ideas are the result of self-expression.

The Business of Communities

You might find it interesting to know that when I ran for the school board in 1972/73, one  of the issues I presented was the idea of tax credits or incentives, publicly provided facilities and so forth in order for the community to encourage industry, in particular, in small towns. That wasn't a typical practice back then.

Why, as part of a school board campaign?

Because the jobs in Humboldt County were primarily lumber and fishing, with few other options. Few required higher education. That means, young people with professional ambitions were required to move somewhere else.

I saw the possibility of a partnership between schools, industry and government to create  an investment in the community. It was about planning that was holistic, and not just random development. It allows  a community to choose it's industries and plan for long term goals.

The social agreement and contract was that the business of the United States is people (I don't care what Calvin Coolidge said).

People do business. It is not the business of government to make its people wealthy. It is the government's responsibility to provide an environment where all may flourish based on the merit of their efforts, with the government as an honest broker to keep the playing field even..

The question, why is that an appropriate issue for a school board candidate?

The opportunity for vocational training in the school district such that high school graduates were actually functionally skilled when they graduated, particularly if they are not planning to go to college. It's a simple concept, really. Sociologically, it's very healthy. It's not that different from the old German model.

These days, however, with the exportation of jobs, particularly manufacturing, and now high tech, it would be more difficult for a community to make such an investment in business.

And, of course, there's the issue of moving offshore to avoid taxation. You reap what you sow. 'Nuff said for now.

I see the possibility of dealing with the issue of America - putting America first - and global issues in ways that apply the most modern technologies available that will restore the foundations of  the U.S. economy, from the ground up.

We can create a world in honest and beneficial competition, not confrontation. That's at the heart of free market economics.

And I believe it begins with a good idea, a product or service of value and well done that leads to success. I believe in excellence, and that the preponderance of those who had a vision and began a business with the freedom to take it to any profitable market believed in excellence as well. That's an honorable American tradition to live up to.

I used to have a saying for prospective clients. I'd say it tongue in cheek, but they understood what I was saying. I'd tell them, "To do it really well will cost this much, but if you want me to do a mediocre job, the price is double." Because, of course, in the long run, it was.

The interesting part is, the programs I will be announcing are programs that, if not adopted, will be implemented by the non-profit organization I created a little while back. It doesn't actually require the "permission" of government or a great deal of co-operation on the part of industry, but most certainly could be extremely beneficial for all concerned.

I know this doesn't cover everything that could possibly be discussed - barely scratches the surface.  But, I believe it gives you the flavor of some of my attitudes and opinions. I think you'll find that what I have in mind will be flexible and considerate of all concerns.

The last thing I want to mention is about me personally. I'm very often an underestimated kind of guy. I'm somewhat informal, fairly tolerant of human nature and I love helping to cause people to succeed. People think I'm laid back and the quiet type. In some ways, I am. The truth is, that's the way I observe people, and understand them and their goals.

The phrase still waters run deep applies. And I'm not the kind that plays games. Just about the time you think you've got me fooled, I'll surprise you. And, I don't look the type. I've converted that to a tool as well.

One of my favorite exit interviews was with a supervisor who didn't have a great deal of experience. She kept saying she learned a great deal from me. I was flattered and a little amused. But, being a student of human nature, I just had to ask her, "Tell me something you learned... anything." She couldn't answer the question. That's the way I work.

I view lobbyists as sources of information. Many times, they are. But always remember, even if I agree with your cause, I will listen to your adversaries as well and give them equal consideration.

You see, in the end, it's good to know that I'm not a particularly materialistic person. Sure there are a few things I intend to buy and all that, but I like a very simple life. I chose a more entrepreneurial and alternative lifestyle in order to make time to satisfy my built-in curiosity about things. I love people, and I love nature and music. And sports cars.  To me, the rest is cream.

But I have a pretty good grasp of economic trends and methods of stimulating and effecting the economy while empowering and enriching everyone.

I'm a systems and process analyst more than anything else. What I like to do best is coming up with structure with limited controls that allows every level of operations to feed into one other and provide an optimum working environment utilizing total quality management methodologies, built-in checks and balances, all done with complete scalability. And, I do it in ways that are intuitive to people. I view devising solutions as more like art than work.

I'm not the materialistic type. That makes me an honest broker - the ultimate referee. And I assure you, I can't be bought, nor will I compromise your opportunities or interests.

I believe that lving up to the promises of our constitution and our principles means doing so on a global level, if we truly believe in those principles, respecting human rights and sovereignty of nations. The free markets and opportunities available with that approach is the greatest long-range weapon against terror and genuine global peace and cooperation in meeting the needs of all nations.

If we are to be an empire, though I prefer that we not take that stance, then that is the kind of empire I would prefer to maintain - government in service to the people is the ultimate trickle-up economic theory, and it's one that's been proven to work on so many levels. One that requires the partnership and synergy of citizens, businesses and nations.

It's time to make a new commitment to this partnership called America. I call it being a New Patriot.  I hope you'll join me.

The Lantern, Ohio State University Superman shares lessons with new graduates In a speech focused on integrity and morality, Reeve mentioned the New York Times plagiarism scandal and Sammy Sosa's corked bat as examples of the need to avoid taking shortcuts and cheating.

Reports detail intimidation by top WorldCom executives In one incident investigators cited, accounting executive Buford Yates warned an underling who questioned the company's books to not show auditors the numbers or "I'll throw you out the (expletive) window."

Whistleblower Gets $1.35M in Firing Case A former employee of Rockland Community College has been awarded $1.35 million by a federal jury that found she was wrongly fired after warning the school that federal funds were being misused.

Court Ponders if U.S. Firm Liable for Abuse Abroad The hearing stems from two 1996 lawsuits against Unocal Corp. which claimed that villagers in rural Myanmar, formerly Burma, were subjected to forced labor, rape, torture and murder by the military during construction of a natural gas pipeline partially funded by the oil company

Making Trinkets in China, and a Deadly Dust China has emerged as Asia's leading exporter of manufactured goods to the United States, but the workers who produce those goods are victims of a surge in fatal respiratory, circulatory, neurological and digestive-tract diseases like those American and European workers suffered at the dawn of the industrial age

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(C) 2002,2003-2009 Charles Rehn Jr IV  All rights reserved