Friday, February 3, 2012

Reflections on a citizenship ceremony

From Katie Whitchurch, Director of Government Relations:

Earlier this afternoon, I stood in the upper gallery of a courtroom in the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse in downtown Phoenix and watched as 99 people from 37 different countries took the oath of citizenship.

Ninety-nine people in every shape, size, age and nationality, but each story we heard was the same: America was a land of opportunity and freedom. One man had left his birth home due to repression, one woman had come to America simply for the chance at a better life. Each though, spoke with a quavering voice as they expressed their pride in being able to truly call this land home. During the national anthem I watched as a woman in a wheelchair, unable to stand on her own, enlisted the help of fellow participants to stand and hold her hand over her heart. After the President’s message, God Bless the USA played over the loud speakers and a court clerk rushed tissue paper over to a young man in the second row who had been brought to tears.

To the 99 newest citizens of this great country, February 3 will forever be a special day. For those of us blessed enough to already call this nation home, it is a good time to reflect on the fact that, despite our occasional disagreements, this is a place that the world looks upon for leadership, freedom and peace.

If you have never experienced a citizenship ceremony before, I encourage you to do so. The flood of 37 different accents pledging allegiance to the flag, for the first time as citizens, is an incredible and moving experience. 

Participants are led through the oath of citizenship

Are we focused on recovery?

 By Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Mark Dobbins

I believe I have observed a new truth. That is, the 2012 US Presidential campaign seems only to mock economic reality.

Reality for the vast majority of Americans is neither politically left or right. The people I know and those I meet in this great state of Arizona seem to be reasonably levelheaded when it comes to the basics of the economy. They want a decent well-paying job, a sound and affordable education for their children, a level financial playing field where healthcare and homeownership are a given for working families and not an unreachable goal.

Now being the eternal optimist, I have set myself a target to listen more closely for which candidate of either party who will show reality-based paths to a meaningful and sustainable economic recovery.

Three years ago the vision was hope and change. What we got from a business standpoint was a politically correct face to the nation’s wellbeing, while setting the wolves of big government regulars like the EPA and NLRB loose to impede or stop the recovery process in the name of social ideology.

For me, the issue is not ideology. The issue is not substituting one set of personal beliefs for another. We need strong and effective leadership.  I don’t believe partisan politics bears any resemblance to statesmanship or effective leadership. The issue is what is economic reality for early 21st century Americans. Is there someone out there who can lead us to address:
  • National security- It would be wonderful if this was not a necessary top priority.
  • Affordable Healthcare – One size does not fit all.
  • Affordable Relevant /Education systems- Over 30% of Arizona’s high school students fail to graduate. The nearly 70% who do may not have relevant job skills.
  • Homeowner debt and the mortgage crisis

Well, so much for my national observations.  We have our own heavy load here at home in Arizona to balance our fragile recovery. Let’s help set the bar high by addressing economic realities as our primary focus to speed a full recovery and create the foundation for a more resilient future economy. Let’s walk the talk and give full attention to issues that have a direct and meaningful relationship to creating high wage jobs. Together we will build a better Arizona.