Hillsboro High School graduates Bob McEwen (left) and Jim Thompson are pictured at the 2016 Heritage Foundation's President’s Club Meeting.
Hillsboro High School graduates Bob McEwen (left) and Jim Thompson are pictured at the 2016 Heritage Foundation's President’s Club Meeting.
The Heritage Foundation held its annual President’s Club Meeting on Dec. 5-6 in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. I was able to attend on Dec. 6.

A few highlights from the day:

• Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas was the breakfast speaker on Dec. 6. He is the youngest U.S. senator. Advice from Senator Cotton to young people: “Write your life plan in pencil – I thought I would be a lawyer until 9/11 came along. Sen. Cotton then had a distinguished career in the Army, came home and finished his education and is now a senator.

He had another quotable moment, too: “Washington, D.C. is not engaged in economic activity – it is engaged in taking economic activity away from others.”

• Our lunch speaker was Sen. Ben Sasse from Nebraska. Tidbits from his speech included that he reported that 41 percent of Americans under the age of 35 believe the First Amendment in dangerous because one might use free speech to hurt someone’s feelings.

He is a bit of a historian. Sen. Sasse was telling us 150 years ago people did not choose their jobs – they did what their parents had done before them (housewife, farmer). Then from 1870-1920, there was a huge disruption as people moved to industrial jobs in the city.

We have been going through a similar disruption: In 1970, 30 percent of jobs were in manufacturing; today, 7 percent of jobs are in manufacturing but factory output is the same.

This is similar to the following situation: 90 percent of the country were farmers in George Washington’s day, but today only 2 percent of the employed workers farm and they produce much more food.

The average length of job tenure today is 3.5 years. People are frightened, and the government has been trying to calm their fears, but we need to find a private enterprise way of solving this problem. For this problem is going to continue – one of the largest sectors of blue-collar jobs today is trucking, but in 20 years most of the trucking jobs will be gone.

• Congressman Mark Meadows, a U.S. Rep. from North Carolina, said during the afternoon session that he and his colleagues have identified 223 regulations for President Trump to rescind the afternoon of Jan. 20, 2017. Their goal is to get this list to 300 before that time arrives. He said from regulations implemented by executive fiat, the Executive Branch collects $600 billion per year in fees and fines and that this money is never appropriated through the budget process, but goes directly to the Executive Branch for use at its discretion. Folks, I am not a fact-checker here, but I carefully wrote down what the man said.

• The next session was about the state of the Department of Defense. It was led by Thomas Spoehr, director of the Center for National Defense, The Heritage Foundation.

According to Spoehr, the capability to fight two regional wars at once requires 50 Army brigades, 346 ships, 1,200 aircraft in the Air Force and 36 Marine battalions. Today, our strength is 31 Army brigades, 271 ships, 1,159 aircraft in the Air Force and 23 Marine battalions.

However, in terms of “readiness” as defined by the Pentagon, 10 of the 31 Army brigades, 89 of the 271 ships, 579 of the 1,159 aircraft and seven of the 23 Marine battalions are at a full state of readiness.

• The afternoon wrapped with a speech by Carly Fiorina. Carly started out by reporting that Gallup had done a survey recently and found that 80 percent of Americans believe the federal government is corrupt, incompetent and ineffective.

In general, people feel they are losing power. In this situation, she feels it is incumbent upon a leader to “shock” the system. She believes the team of Trump and Pence are setting about to do just that.

Fiorina said she was recently mentoring a group of mid-level women managers. They asked her what she looked for in employees. Her response? Courage, character, collaboration and a sense of possibility. She went on to say people who see possibilities always achieve more.

She had a few other pithy comments:

• Our faith in our fellow citizens is the ultimate optimism.

• Sovereignty rests with the individual, not the state.

• This nation has never been about punishing some to relieve the grievances of others.

• A feminist is a woman who uses her God-given gifts to do what she wants – feminism is not a formula or a box.

• People close to a problem usually know best how to solve it.

Fiorina thinks conservatives should reclaim the word “progress,” for she sees progress as what happens when you analyze a problem, plan for its solution then execute the plan.

• Our dinner speaker was Vice-President elect Mike Pence. Mr. Pence made it very clear that the team of Trump and Pence are going to hit the ground running.

To say – for conservatives – that the day was like breathing straight from a pure tank of oxygen, would be an understatement.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press.