We Take Care Of Our Own

The first single from Bruce Springsteen's forthcoming record, Wrecking Ball, was released today. We Take Care Of Our Own asks a lot of questions about where we are as a country and is a reminder - a call to action - that we are responsible for thinking about the country as a whole; not just ourselves as individuals.  What exactly does that mean?

The song comes out at a time when unemployment is on the way down, but underemployment is on the way up.  Corporations are holding $2 trillion in cash on their balance sheets, sitting on the sidelines doing little to nothing to spur the economy.  But is it big business' responsibility to do what's right for the economy and the country or is it solely their responsibility to do what's right for their shareholders?  These are the tough questions.

Prudential is currently in the news as the EDA awarded them over $250m in tax credits if they build a new building in Downtown Newark.  The cost of the building is expected to exceed $360m and would create thousands of construction jobs.  To receive the full tax credit, Prudential would also be required to create 400 new jobs to be housed in the new building.  Seems great...right?  But what about the landlords of the buildings that Prudential will vacate to move to the new building?  They will be crippled by the large blocks of vacant space. Prudential also reported over $14.7b in cash at the end of the third quarter, sitting on the sidelines (sound familiar).  Do they need our money for a new building?  Again...tough questions.

The song is critical of current and past administrations, hinting that each has fallen short of their responsibilities.  The voice in the song is looking for new leaders.  As I wrote in a previous blog entry, being President of the United States seems like an impossible job.  It's hard to have faith in leaders that are so disconnected from the people.

What gives me hope is the people I see, setting amazing examples in our communities...who take care of their own, day in and day out.  Jon Bon Jovi is doing amazing things with his Soul Foundation and his new restaurant in Red Bank that has no prices on the menu.  You donate what's in your heart and if you can't donate, you can volunteer to pay for your meal.  My uncle, Steven Levine, gets up every Sunday morning to feed the people in tent city near his house.  David Bernhaut, a former colleague, gives out hundreds of blankets to homeless people each holiday season.  These things aren't done for press, for tax write-offs...they are done because there are people who believe in their hearts that no one should be left behind.

Bruce used to say, "Nobody wins, unless everybody wins" before singing Born To Run each night.  This song, at this time, reminds us...not everyone is winning.  This isn't Bruce's best work - not even close, but I am glad someone is out there asking the tough questions.

JN