Berry Challenges Bauer Alumni to Seek What Business of America Is
Former Houston councilman and popular KTRH radio show host Michael Berry drew from history and one of Calvin Coolidge’s fundamental principles as a lesson for America’s role in the world.
Throughout his talk, Berry emphatically reminded the audience at the final installment of the Fall 2010 Bauer College Alumni Association Monthly Networking Breakfast series, held on Nov. 18 at Houston City Club, guiding words by the 30th U.S. president who believed that “the business of America is business.” Berry used this theme to illustrate how the U.S. economic struggles are worsened when the government gets too involved in the private sector.
Longtime friend and sponsor of the breakfast series, James E. “Jeb” Bashaw, introduced Berry and highlighted some of his accomplishments including the ranking of The Michael Berry Show as the #1 talk show at 5 p.m. in Texas, and his spot on the exclusive list of Five Outstanding Young Texans. Bashaw said, “He’s passionate about everything he does, and he’s passionate about our city.”
Berry also shared his passion for the University of Houston, especially the new surge of pride now associated with the campus as it works to gain Tier One recognition. As a UH alumnus, he recognized, “UH is an important part of who I am.”
Focusing on the nation’s economic and political challenges, Berry drew a parallel between the nation’s role in the global landscape today to that of a wealthy businessman who places a greater emphasis on philanthropic pursuits. “Business cannot be substituted by charity, and there is no philanthropy without business,” while America has climbed to the top of the global economy, it can only stay in that position by maintaining a focus on business, especially as “economic freedoms are at the core of our freedoms,” Berry added.
He also discussed the contrast in history from presidents who had a “passion for getting government out of the way of business” to the current political leadership and wondered whether they understood the importance of allowing business to drive our nation’s economy. “The president and the vice president have no experience in the private sector,” he noted, and then asked “how many politicians in Washington today could comply with the same regulations they’re creating?”
He used the recent BP blowout as evidence of the administration’s lack of support for the industries that fuel the economy. “The issue is bigger than just gas at the pump,” he said, “this is about a major source of our economic power.” “When we lose economic power, we lose the ability to influence the course of history,” he said, and also remarked, “history is not a destiny; history is manmade.” Berry said that the moratorium on off shore drilling did not take into consideration the severe consequences resulting in job loss of people working on those rigs.
While much of the course of history depends on the decisions politicians make, Berry cautioned against “professional bureaucrats,” and referenced the nation’s founding fathers who had also opposed the idea of people simply being hired to run the government. He talked about the common notion of politics being an arena reserved for “speech givers and smooth talkers” while the rest are left to business. In Berry’s view, this is a mindset that needs to be changed, as the nation simply needs good leaders.
The message resonated with many in the audience including Certificate in Accountancy Program student Shawn Marino, “I like a lot of what he had to say, and I especially like the distinction he made between business being separate from government,” he said. “It was great to see him to speak in person, because it’s so different from hearing him on the radio.” Bauer alumna Laura Flaherty (’05) also attended because “Michael Berry is a big draw, and I listen to his radio show regularly.” The breakfast, she said, was also a great way to get involved because she has “so much pride for this school. It’s an amazing university with amazing programs.”
Presented by James E. Bashaw & Co., the BCAA monthly networking breakfasts are excellent networking opportunities that regularly attract strong attendance, with top leaders as speakers. The next BCAA breakfast will be held on Jan. 20 at Houston City Club, featuring El Paso Corporation CEO Doug Foshee.