Posted by | August 30, 2011 10:26 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

The greedy corporate executives who use their fortunes to buy politicians in both parties, the corrupt government bureaucrats who leave their jobs to go work as lobbyists for the companies that they were supposed to be regulating, and the twisted set of priorities by the powerful people in Washington who make all of the important decisions; all make politics extremely depressing to write about (which is why I sometimes feel the need to step back and take a break from it all). But occasionally there is actually a positive story so touching and beautiful that it makes me “keep hope alive”. I happened to come across one of these rare stories yesterday while perusing my usual set of newspapers and political blogs.

In a heart-warming display of generosity, Fresno County School Superintendent Larry Powell is taking an $800,000 pay cut over the next three years in order to protect “programs for kindergarten and preschool, the arts and a pet project that steers B and C students into college by teaching them how to take notes and develop strategy skills”.

Here is a man in government who will spend the next three years managing 325 schools and 35 school districts with 195,000 students, for less money then the average first-year teacher. Remember when all of those Wall Street executives were being paid bonuses for “talent retention” (after bankrupting their companies) because they couldn’t possibly be expected to manage a bank for less then millions of dollars?

But if you don’t already love Larry Powell, his story is even more amazing. He describes contracting polio as a child as “the most spectacular thing that has happened to me in all my life,” because “people stepped up to help me be successful”, and cutting his salary at this time is his way of giving back. That sentiment perfectly captures the heart of liberal ideology. The idea that no one, especially those who already start out disadvantaged, can become successful in this world with out a few helping hands along the way, and that’s perfectly okay. But it’s better then okay when successful people acknowledge all the help they have received and show their appreciation by contributing to those less fortunate, so that we all benefit from the development of even more successful people.

Larry Powell is exactly the type of person we need more of in government.

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