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By Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., Kansas City, MO –

Big government bailouts and bid executive bonuses, perhaps remembering the lessons of Horatio Alger will serve us well if we would apply them. The President and Congress demanding no bonus payments, pay cuts, and claw backs of a few of the executives of firms who received big government bailouts as they continued the egregious exploitation of consumers, citizens, investors, and workers, alike, is not enough.

Horatio Alger, most assuredly, is turning over in his grave seeing the rags-to-riches rise of the executives of a number of the countries biggest corporations as well as the selfish, deceitful, and pernicious manner in which they have gotten there. Alger, surely, cannot be resting in peace.

Despite the fact that he sold more than 250 million copies of his publications globally, maybe some of these need to be required reading for current, and future executives, as well as the boards, which are accountable for regulating them.

However many Horatio Alger novels they read, they may readily conclude that they espouse business practices and principles that are applicable to a bygone lifestyle, with characters whose belief systems and moral principles are now not relevant in a business world that appears devoid of them. What a disaster, should this happen.

photographic portrait of Horatio AlgerEvery year, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans hosts an annual awards dinner in our nation’s capital, and in December, they are going to declare the 2010 receivers. The Horatio Alger Award is provided to ten Americans for his or her exceptional contributions within their areas of expertise. Since its beginning in 1947, they’ve honored many elected officials and companies.

The Organization offers many programs to bring together Horatio Alger heroes of today with those of tomorrow. Young individuals receive great opportunities to investigate firsthand how Americas free enterprise system works. Through the National Scholars Conference, held in Washington, D.C., pupils saw first hand how our executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government work.

If we’re successful in preventing a meltdown of our economical infrastructure, participant in future Horatio Alger conventions are going to have much to discuss and lots of lessons to learn. If our elected officials and justice system have done their jobs, then hopefully, the actual corporate criminals are going to jail and systems are going to be in place to make it hard for people so criminally inclined to run amok again.

It would do us well to hold Horatio Alger workshops for young people all across America to educate them about what makes up an excellent code of business conduct. To remind them that despite the things they see in quite a few corporate leaders, there’s a correct and adequate approach to take from “rags-to-riches,” and that it isn’t just about how much private wealth you amass. Rather, it implores one to help and enrich the lives of others.

Despite their party association, elected officials in Washington need to use moral bravery together with the enforcement of powerful laws that can mete out the perfect punishment for the surpluses, abuses, and offenses perpetrated against average and trusting citizens many of whom still believe in the Horatio Alger manner of doing things.

With the financial bailouts and support extended to a number of those same perpetrators, tolerated by hard working citizens, present elected officials possess a moral responsibility and obligation to do more than demand pay cuts, claw backs, or no bonuses.

As we evaluate the candidates running for elective offices in 2010, we must ask them a direct question, What are you going to do to make sure that workers, investors, as well as their loved ones will not be used by illegal and unscrupulous business practices? Moreover, we must listen really attentively to the responses.

In the short term, not only has unsuspecting older Americans been robbed of the hard-earned cash they depended on for retirement, other workers saw school resources for his or her children dissipate, while money saved to purchase their very first house evaporated.

If our President and members of Congress don’t do the right thing, it could seriously undermine not only our free enterprise way of life, it might mortgage our future because as our young people see what’s occurring, they may discover that it’s hard to carry on to believe in a number of the essential tenets that keep our Republic powerful.

There are a number of elected officials and business leaders who exemplify the very values that people must pass to future generations.

Will the Horatio Alger Recognized Americans please stand up?

Edited and Reprinted with Permission of

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Janice Ellis
Janice Ellis
Janice S. Ellis, PhD, is an award-winning author. Her book, From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major book sellers. She has written a column for newspapers, radio, and now online, where she analyzes educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status. You can see her writings on this website.

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