How One Leader from Decades Past Responded to Crisis
BY JACK LEVINE
At a crucial time in his nation’s history, here’s how one great leader boosted spirits and prioritized essential actions. Some 80-years ago, the heavy and frequent bombing attacks on London and other British cities were known as the ‘Blitz’. Night after night, from September 1940 until May 1941, German Nazi bombers attacked British cities, ports, and industrial sites.
In one particularly brutal spell, London was bombed every day and night, bar none, for 11 consecutive weeks. One-third of London was destroyed.
A true leader, Prime Minister Winston Churchill did all he could to ease the suffering by trying to strengthen the resolve of his countrymen and women to survive.
One night, while on a tour of a hard-hit residential section of London, Churchill was approached by a BBC Radio reporter, microphone in hand. “Mr. Prime Minister,” he began, “In viewing this horrible destruction with your own eyes, and in hearing the sorrowful agony of our citizens, what is your top priority for action?”
Churchill stared into the reporter’s eyes, raised his index finger into the air, and replied, “My top priority is to have mothers healthy enough to put milk into their babies.”
The lesson of Churchill’s eloquence and empowering leadership is clear. At the depth of our despair and in facing our greatest challenges, making sure we provide the basic care our families need to survive and thrive should be our top priority.
Making Wise Fiscal Decisions – Prevention Budgeting is Key
As an advocate, I try to be the optimist in the room, striving to reach solutions to problems by giving people the confidence to make a positive difference. I must confess that these days, that role is quite hard to play.
As we face the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and severe economic distress, voices which call for “getting back to normal” run contrary to the scientific counsel offered by public health experts. Moving on without advocating for social isolation is simply not what the doctors are ordering.
One stark reality is that our state and city/community budget pictures are cloudy and ominous. With many sectors of our economy suffering a significant downturn, our elected leaders will soon be forced to accurately assess the deficits we face and act expeditiously to reach feasible solutions.
The Congress and federal executive branch have the option of spending money they don’t have…and the size of our federal deficits was higher than ever even before the coronavirus crisis. With their recent accord for an emergency infusion of dollars to address critical needs, the red ink will flow by the barrelful.
For state government and local government…not so fast! Soon, our state legislators and county/city commissioners will be forced to do one of three things…or some combination of these options: dip into reserves, raise taxes, or cut budgets.
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The latter recourse will, obviously, magnify the problems we are already experiencing as health care, education, public safety, social services, and environmental protection make up 85-percent of the state and local budgets. Where to go for reductions is a potentially disastrous scenario…and of course, some cuts will never heal.
Taking resources away from programs that are proven to be cost-beneficial in avoiding later costs is inhumane, imprudent, and self-destructive in the immediate, short, and long term.
Prevention is the best medicine…and failure to prevent problems results in harsh self-punishment. We either invest in the success or pay for failure! So, let’s make our voices heard by advocating for sensitive and sensible public policy options.
Saving lives and saving dollars are key outcomes of providing timely and coordinated services at the earliest stages of life…from pregnancy on through early childhood, child protection, and quality youth services.
Yes, we are all faced with frightful health concerns and deep economic uncertainties. Let’s take every opportunity to keep that theme of prevention budgeting at the forefront of our advocacy communications.
Saving lives and saving dollars are key outcomes of providing timely and coordinated services at the earliest stages of life…from pregnancy on through early childhood, child protection, and quality youth services. And providing in-home care for elders to avoid unnecessary placement in assisted living homes is likewise a true prevention option.
A leader assures quality care for pregnant women, providing opportunities for the successful development of our youngest, and humane care for family members across the generations are the best choices we can make for the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – JACK LEVINE
Jack Levine, the founder of the 4Generations Institute, is a Tallahassee-based family policy advocate. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Advocate’s Credo:
Thou art my child, my parent, and my elder,
I love thee best,
But could not love thee half as much,
Loved I not all the rest.