As I was searching the web the other day, I came upon an image of Alan Greenspan. There he was with an introspective smile as former President George W. Bush placed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his shoulders. Looking back, I think the most meaningful contribution Alan Greenspan made to the U.S. was his acknowledgement that a deregulated free-market is flawed.
This week President Obama awarded Dolores Huerta, a woman 82 years of age, the same Presidential Medal of Freedom. The two personalities and life achievements could not be more contrasting. Greenspan was raised in Washington Heights, an established neighborhood near Manhattan. Huerta called Stockton, a California farming community her home. Dolores Huerta learned the meaning of disparity; after receiving her teaching credentials in the 1950s and spending time in the classroom, she said, “I couldn’t stand seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children.”
Alan Greenspan went from Washington Heights to the heights of Washington where wall-street investors revered him in a god-like manner. Dolores Huerta, in her effort to raise awareness of the deplorable working conditions of thousands of farm workers, endured severe beatings by police after which she was handcuffed and jailed. Ms. Huerta persevered and is today credited for delivering a long list of civil acts that contribute to the betterment of society including co-founding the National Farm Workers Association.
I am proud of Dolores Huerta, I am proud of President Obama and I am proud of the U.S. for honoring people like Dolores Huerta with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.