George Washington lived 2 years after he stepped down as President. James Polk died the same year he left the Presidency. Woodrow Wilson died 3 years after the end of his term. Calvin Coolidge lived 4 years after his Presidency ended. LBJ 4 years. Eisenhower 8 years.
Today, we note that ex-Presidents live longer and longer. Ford lived 29 years. Nixon 20 years. Reagan 15 years. Current living ex-world leaders include: Jimmy Carter - 27 years and still going strong.
The Ex-President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, is 66 years old. Vladamir Putin, immediate past-President of Russia is only 56 years old. Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair is 55 years old.
George Bush Sr - 15 years out of the Presidency, 84 years old and has taken up parachuting for a hobby. Bill Clinton - 8 years out of office, 62 years old, and still campaigns like a man in his 30s. George Bush Jr is only 62 years old and can outrun most men half his age.
With all of us living longer, and more and more world leaders passing the reins of power to others (peacefully or otherwise), we are facing an excess of Ex-World-Leaders. This could be a real problem. We have an expanding excess of past world leaders, powerful personalities, who are basically unemployed and growing bored. I believe we have a responsibility to provide them opportunities to remain active and involved without overstepping their bounds, demeaning themselves, or endangering themselves.
What do you do once you have ruled a country, run a democracy, led a parliament, or otherwise had the ear of all other presidents, kings, and potentates of the world? Face it, once you can write âPresident of the United Statesâ, âPresident of Russiaâ, "Prime Minister of Britainâ, or âRuler of Zimbabweâ on your resume, there's really not much worth putting after that, is there?
What really got me thinking about this was a picture I saw of past Russian Premier Mikhail Gorbachev posing in an advertisement for Louis Vuitton satchels, luggage, and man bags. What is this once immensely powerful man doing selling hand bags??
It got me to contemplating...whatâs next? Vladimir Putin posing for Cabela's Sporting Goods?
Hmmmm, actually, I WOULD be interested in that knife, rod and reel, and hat...
But back to main idea... Monarchy, Dynasty, Republic, or Tribeâ¦once you have been in command of any type of country or government, itâs hard to retire and welcome customers to Walmart.
We have a responsibility to take care of our past leaders. Their welfare and safe-keeping is clearly called for. Unless we take action, we face such possibilities as:
Hereâs Jimmy â notice he missed the chisel and is about to hammer his hand. No glovesâ¦no hard hatâ¦and chiseling without safety glasses. He needs protecting!
Poor Al Gore. He needs us to push him into new directions. Sure, he won an academy award, but so did F. Murray Abraham and look what good it did him. We all know that sooner or later Al's going to get awfully tired of just standing around and watching ice melt.
And what about George Bush Senior? The man is OLD and he's jumping out of airplanes! If ever there was a cry for help! This man needs some serious safe-guarding and counseling toward projects that keep his feet on the ground
Other leaders need our help, also. Tony Blair for example. He wants to play cricket professionally. First, he needs to be told that cricket is DEFINITELY an OUTDOOR sport. He also needs to be told that children should never stand so close to the players!
Then there's Bill. Actually, I'm not too worried about Bill. Once we get all the ex-leaders together, I have an idea he'll take control and have then singing bar songs and talking policy into the wee hours of each day...
I worry the most about George Jr. He's never really had a real job. He played in his Daddy's oilfields. He part-time-owned a baseball team. He was Governor of Texas - a symbolic position if ever there was one...everyone in Texas KNOWS it's the LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR who runs things. And after eight years Junior was just starting to catch on to things...such as his way around the White House. (Junior and Rumsfeld often spent several minutes after their meetings looking for the cleverly concealed doors of the Oval Office.)
Junior wants to return to baseball - possibly as commissioner. Not a bad idea, but as this picture illustrates, future players and fans aren't too crazy about the idea.
His wife suggested he might try running a Day Care, but George Junior has his doubts...
And while he IS good with his hands around the ranch...
Don't let him near a backhoe...
He hasn't quite got the idea how to use heavy equipment...as this effort at digging his truck out of the Texas mud shows...
So what am I suggesting?
We cannot allow such a waste of talent. We must help this expanding group of ex-powerful people find a new purpose and cause to pursue. Yes, we need to give them purposeâ¦but we also evidently need to protect these powerful ex-leaders from hurting themselves.
I suggest we set them up with a small country to run. I recommend that we find someplace for all the ex-leaders of the world to live. I suggest a small country or island someplace. In specific, I say we give them Guam.
Countries from around the globe can send problem issues to the island for all these retired leaders to work on. From Global Warming to World Hungerâ¦
Once a year we need to bring them out into public and give them a forum from which to be heard. We would hold it in California (of course) and sell tickets. It could be run along the lines of a Bill Gaither Homecoming event. All the old, great, old, not-so-great, old leaders of the world on one stage. Co-Moderated by Sean Hannity and Bill OâReilly (just because). The opening prayer by the Rev. Wright (why not) and the national anthem sung by the Dixie Chicks (just for fun.)â¦..
They can have all the policy-talks they want. Summits every Friday. Build walls on Monday, tear them down on Tuesday. The leaders have projects to keep them occupied. The leaders are kept away from dangerous activities and sharp objects. They have all the (local) TV coverage they crave.
And the beauty is â itâs all contained on the island Guam.
Is this a plan or what?
Alright. I've had my fun. And with utmost respect (no, really, I'm being serious now), I truly appreciate the work of every past President. I wrote all of the above with tongue firmly implanted in cheek to make a point. Granted, I bird-walked 100 miles around the Bushes to make a point, but there really is one to be made.
As we have more and more skilled workers (be they world leaders, bankers, doctors, engineers...) entering the ranks of the retired, a HUGE untapped pool of part-time, HIGHLY-skilled teachers and mentors are being created. I believe school leaders should be exploring ways to get this talent pool invested in their schools.
Tomorrow (May 7th, 2008) I am having a meeting and giving a tour to the retired members of the large church which sits directly across the street from my school. We're talking less than 50 yards away. A new young minster called me a few weeks ago and asked for a meeting. We met and he said that he believed they could help the school. We talked about mentors and tutors. He took the idea back to his congregation and they leaped at it. So at 10:30 tomorrow I will meet with these potential volunteers and we will discuss ways they can become hands-on involved.
This idea was further enhanced by the interesting question that Scott McLeod posted on Leadertalk. Basically, his post asked what can be done about the lack of the best qualified candidates entering college education programs and then entering and STAYING in the career of teaching. If we are really losing the best (i.e. brightest) teachers on a continuing basis, Dr. McLeod asks, "Now What?"
Well, among several other things, we can tap into the growing pool of mega-talented, highly intelligent retirees. I'll be expanding on this in a more - ahem, academic/scholarly - manner in a post on Leadertalk later.
But my point stands. While I used world leaders to over-state my point, I only have to look around my neighborhood to spot a retired Dallas Morning News reporter (think he could help teach/tutor English?), a retired gentleman who owned a very successful insurance office (think he could tutor Business?), a retired mathematician who worked for the local aerospace industry - yes, a real rocket scientist (uhm, I'm sure there's something he could teach...).
This pool of retired Baby Boomers are already growing tired of the cruises and days home working in the yard. Face it, retirement sounds great to those of us who are of the Leave It to Beaver generation. But the truth is, we get bored easily. Virtually EVERY colleague of mine who retired when first eligible has gone back to work. MANY have returned to the classroom and are happier than ever.
There is a tremendous untapped renewable resource available to school leaders. We just have to figure out how to most efficiently and effectively use it.