The Price

By Jackson M. Henry —-

There is a price for everything. So what is free is really not free. There are millions of “costs” hidden with those freebees. Someone’s compassion and generosity can be just as deadly. Sooner or later, you have to reciprocate a favor or return someone’s compassion by tenfold. Generosity can come back to haunt you when you least expect it, at the worst possible time and at the worst possible place. I quote Jim Rohn, “For every promise made, there is a price to pay”.

Climbing social and economy ladders also have their price. As the saying goes, “the higher you climb, the harder you fall”. We all have heard of the price John D. Rockefeller paid for his ascension from a poor boy from a broken home to history’s wealthiest entrepreneur. His rise to dominance of America’s petroleum industry brought him scorn and he was later vilified as a “monopolist”. Under President Teddy Roosevelt, Rockefeller’s financial empire was dismantled and broken into 35 pieces. The paradoxical lesson learned about the price of business success is: free enterprise, if left to its own device, could wind up terribly unfree.

Nation building also has its price. The freebees we get from donors could soon make us so unfree. So we have to be prepared to sacrifice a few as the price to succeed as a country or we fall flat on our face. My Ruback friend once advised me, “the price of making Palau succeed commercially is the courage to lead courageously and take actions on things we need to do rather things we like to do”. Indeed, confronting our fears and tackling our national phobias is the price we must pay, rather can cherry picking the easy matters and ignoring the rest. Soothsayers like to delve with easy matters and tuck the stomach wrenching issues under the carpet. Call it, “kicking the can down the road”.

Few days ago, Palau woke up to the startling news on CNN that Detroit, once America’s industrial behemoth, has filed for bankruptcy. Detroit was the epicenter of automobile production in the world with the Big 3 (GM, Ford and Chrysler) employing thousands of workers and stuffing millions of taxes into the city’s coffers. Today, it is weighted down with $18B in debts, high crime rates and exodus of people to greener pastures elsewhere. Everyone wonders what went wrong. Financial experts opine that, “Detroit decided to kick the can down the road instead of tackling the hard financial issues head on”. What happened to Detroit can happen to any big city, island and now, nations like Greece and Cyprus.

Think of this scenario: to bake a cake requires key ingredients like flour, cake mix, water and eggs. You cannot miss them and expect to bake a real cake. There is no other way to bake a cake nor is there a free “highway” to the top of success. Again, there is a price to pay and sacrifice is one key ingredient and a price to a nation’s progress. We let go some in order to gain something.

America is a success story because it was prepared at the onset to pay the price. If you have forgotten, let me cite JFK’s inaugural address: “…we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty”.

Lets not forget investment guru, Warren Buffet’s invaluable quote, “The price is what you pay. Value is what you get”. We all agree that, “there is no price too high to pay than the privilege of owning ourselves”.

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