For the past month a store at the retail center where we’ve shopped for years has displayed prominent signs stating “Going Out Business—Everything For Sale”.

So yesterday I went in to say good-bye to Don, one of the employees who has frequently helped me select the right products.  Over the years we’ve occasionally discussed the state of the world, and I expected that we would commiserate on the economy, his bad luck, the lack of jobs, etc.

But we didn’t.   When I asked him, Don smiled and said, “I have no idea what I’m going to do.  But we’ve always spent less than we’ve taken in, we have no debt, we have investments, and a cash reserve account.  So we’ll be fine while I look for the best next position. And if I don’t find something right away, while I’m looking I’ll also volunteer to help others.”

Then he added, “You know, the principles that built the country—work, family, and thrift—still matter, just as they always have.  We taught our daughter to do the same, and she’ll be OK, no matter what.  I just worry about so many others, who may never have heard.”

Don’s wisdom and his family’s actions will not cure every problem.  There are still unexpected disasters, illnesses, and situations which will genuinely require a third-party safety net of insurance, economic help, advice and long-term commitment to correct.

Still, I left our meeting with great respect for Don’s ability to seek his next position without great pressure.  And if most of our families had this degree of internal safety net, then the community could focus on the smaller group in genuine need, and those needs could more easily be met by family, friends, churches, and volunteer agencies, rather than by involving the tax-and-spend government.

I suspect that when people like Don vote, it is probably not for politicians who promise government fixes and hand-outs, at astronomical costs to all of us, to “give everyone a fair shake.”

He probably considers that living and working in this great nation is all the “fair shake” he’s ever needed.  And he’s taken it from there, always remembering to save.

Don, I hope that you find a great job, and the opportunity to keep sharing your wisdom with others.  I’ll miss you.