Loran Smith: Gary Bertsch’s World View

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Loran Smith: Gary Bertsch’s World View

Loran Smith: Gary Bertsch’s World View
Loran Smith

An illuminating breakfast conversation with an Athens treasure, Gary Bertsch, segued to his front porch in the early morning last weekend and lifted my spirits considerably.

While I was not depressed—much of that owing to the fact that I had not watched any network news that day—it was intently refreshing to be the beneficiary of his seasoned view of things along with his discerning wisdom and penetrating logic.





He is a very smart man who has lived an extraordinary life which put him on the world’s stage at the pinnacle of his career.  His life resonated professionally, and he brought the everyday man gloss to his street and his neighborhood.  He has always believed that better communities create a better world. He is a deep thinker who could walk with kings without losing the common touc h.  His wife Joan found their laidback home on Henderson Avenue where she and Gary brought forth a virtual Garden of Eden with shrubs and flowers that cloak you in the best atmosphere just to walk in their floral haven; they added the most becoming backyard study imaginable, complete with shade in summer and a cozy fireplace in winter—the best trappings for an inquiring mind.

Time spent with this Idaho farm boy, whose football scholarship made possible his undergraduate degree at Idaho State, leaves you hungry for more.  He taught internationally. He brought former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and other world leaders to Georgia.   He worked with Georgia Senator Sam Nunn and others to reduce nuclear proliferation.

He is something of an oasis in a desert of pessimism.  I have heard him speak at local gatherings and on his porch and in his study.  Things are not the best with the unfortunate circumstance of two bad choices for President, but there is reason to have faith we will manage which begins with our Constitution which is a defense against the shenanigans that some might consider.





On the table beside him there was a new book, “The American Covenant: How the Constitution Unified Our Nation—and Could Again,” by Yuval Levin which suggests our founding document “isn’t failing us—we are failing it,” according to one columnist.  

If you think our country is under threat and going to hell in a handbasket, consider the vintage view of the great grandson of German immigrants from southern Ukraine:

  • China’s rise economically and militarily doesn’t mean we should start shaking in our boots: “They have economic, demographic and political problems much greater than our own,” he says.
  • Russia is even more beset by problems, a troubled, third world country with nukes.
  • The Middle East, Iran, Hamas—what’s new?  It has been that way for centuries.  The current situation is tragic, but it won’t bring down the U.S.
  • Climate change is a critical challenge, but the world is getting more serious about controlling it.
  • Weapons of mass destruction are a serious concern.  It is, perhaps, the most serious worry and could end life as we know it.

Having identified those international issues, Gary Bertsch comes with good news, the great U. S. strengths.

  • We have a resilient, sound economy:  In 1990 U.S. per capita income was 17% higher than Japan’s and 24% higher than Western Europe’s; Today we are 54% higher than Japan and 32% higher than Western Europe.
  • In 2008 the U.S. and Eurozone economies were about the same size; today the U.S. is twice the size.
  • The dollar remains the currency for 90% of international transactions.  We have more and better banks.
  • Our military is the most advanced and the most powerful in the world.
  • The U. S. dominates the techs of present and the future—digitization, Internet, AI and bioengineering.
  • Energy—U. S. today is the world’s largest producer of oil and gas and continues to expand green energy.
  • Educated workforce: K-12 challenges but we will handle, and our universities are the best in the world.
  • Demography—U. S. population keeps growing while China, Japan and Europe populations are in decline.
  • Allies—U. S. has more than others including a reliable NATO.
  • Geographic/Geopolitical—U. S. bordered by oceans and allies; China, Russia, Iran are hemmed in.

“The United States Constitution, rule of law and democracy are messy but remain among the best in the world.  There is little reason for panic, pessimism or self-doubt.  We should keep the faith and get our house in order.  The United States of America can lead and succeed,” he continues.

Gary Bertsch believes we will do a better job in electing more qualified people in the days ahead. We have our Constitution, an enviable democracy however messy. We are uniquely suited to succeed. We are fortunate to live in the USA.





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