Is It Too Late For Us?!?
John A. Quayle
blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Thu May 24 01:11:08 MDT 2007
HERE'S HOPING LES SCHWAB WAS WRONG
By Bill Sizemore
May 23, 2007
Trying to get a one-on-one meeting with Les
Schwab, the tire king, was like trying to
schedule a meeting with the President. It was not
an easy meeting to get. Les didn't schedule a lot
of meetings with political types and was never
known as a major donor to political candidates.
So when the man agreed to meet with me, I didn't
hesitate to drive the three hours it took to get
from Portland to the Central Oregon high desert where Les Schwab lived.
When I was ushered into his Prineville, Oregon
office, I remember feeling privileged to actually
meet the guy that I had seen on television so
many times, a man who had built a chain of tire
stores that ran circles (no pun intended) around
some of the biggest names in tires. In fact, it
is no exaggeration to say that Les Schwab
completely dominated the tire market in the
Pacific Northwest. He knew how to sell tires and treat customers right.
Les Schwab's Prineville office was hardly
memorable. He seemed to have that Sam Walton
flair for not needing to impress anyone with the
fact that he had made it. After chatting for a
few minutes, Les suggested that we hop in his
"rig" and take a tour of some of his local
facilities, beginning with the biggest tire warehouse imaginable.
Between tour stops, Les and I talked politics. He
was for the most part a staunch conservative and
we agreed on most issues. We had a pleasant
visit, which lasted for a couple of hours, but in
the end it was not a financially profitable trip.
Eventually, Les wrote me a check for $500, which
for a man of his stature and ability, was a mere
pittance. But unlike some rich guys, who will
write you a thousand dollar check and act like
they are Donald Trump, Les told me right up front
why he wasn't giving more. Here is what he said,
as best I remember his words: "Bill, you're a
young man and I admire you for having the energy
to keep up the fight, but I think it's too late
to save this country. We are going to have to
bottom out and start over before we can set things right again."
Based on the context of my conversation with Les
leading up to that statement, Les meant that in
his opinion it was too late to save this country
because the socialist mindset, the entitlement
mentality, was far too entrenched in the American people to reverse the trend.
I remember walking away from our visit liking the
man, but feeling a bit depressed.
Time will tell whether Les Schwab was right to
have such a gloomy outlook on politics. I have
seen nothing in the decade that has passed since
our meeting to prove him wrong. But this I know
for sure: If those of us, who believe in liberty
and free enterprise and private property rights,
give up, then indeed the battle is lost. The
prophesy becomes self-fulfilling. We lose by
default. We lose because the other side called a
war, and our side never showed up.
Maybe Les Schwab was wiser than I, or maybe he
was just getting tired, again no pun intended.
After all, Mr. Schwab was well up in years by the
time I met him. But if I have my choice between
sitting back and watching my country fall apart
or fighting the mindset that is eating it up like
a cancer, I would rather go down swinging.
If we continue down the road toward tried and
failed socialism, a road we are definitely on, we
will indeed bottom out. Les was right about that.
But it will be ugly. Our children and
grandchildren will suffer times of great shortage
of the basic needs of life and even times of
abject poverty. What comes out of that darkness
is by no means certain. It might be a rebirth of
American liberty. But it is just as likely that
what comes next will be some form of totalitarianism.
So, I hope Les Schwab was wrong about it being
too late. And in my opinion, I owe it to my kids to make sure he was.
© 2007 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved
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