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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Red Kettles and Black Fridays

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An image of a red kettle used to collect physical donations offline.

Peter Drucker called The Salvation Army “by far the most effective organization in the U.S.”

“No one even comes close to it in respect to clarity of mission,” Drucker continued, ” ability to innovate, measurable results, dedication and putting money to maximum use.”

Which is why the Red Kettles that appear across the land today, both physical and virtual, are such a great place for your Christmas-season giving.  I have partnered with the Salvation Army for years during the Christmas season and again and happy to do so this year, and renew my request fro every donation, however large or small, via my Red Kettle Team (which also allows you to begin your own Red Kettle Team for your family or business.)

I also renew my offer of years past: Donate $25,000 (or more) and I will have you as my guest host for a day and we will focus at least 75% of the program on your passions and causes, your business or book, your best friend or pet peeve. (The news does sometimes intrude and force a rescheduling, but co-hosts past have loved these days.)  It will be most effective marketing expenditure of the year, though co-hosts past haven’t been motivated by that.

My Black Friday show today celebrates both Americans’ love of gift-buying and giving, and I will be joined by two special guests.

In the first hour, Fran Philip joins me.  She is an alum of the Entrepreneur Hour, and “HBSer,” and veteran of L.L. Bean (and my sister-in-law) who recently helped lead a partnership that acquired Sea Bags, a business that designs and handcraft tote bags and accessories from recycled sails in the heart of Portland, Maine’s working waterfront.  With stores in Portland and Freeport Maine, and partners across the country, Sea Bags knows Black Friday and Fran will take us inside why it matters so to American marketing. As a (small) investor in the company, I am hoping for the best Black Friday ever, as our merchants and their families everywhere.

Sea Bags - Custom House Wharf


The second hour of the show introduces you to Dr. Celestino Fernandez, a distinguished professor and Director of the Undergraduate Studies School of Sociology at the University of Arizona.   Dr. Fernandez offers a wildly popular course on happiness at UA, Sociology 357, “The Pursuit of Happiness.”  Like my pals Dennis Prager and Arthur Brooks, Fernandez has recognized happiness is a very key subject though not often talked about at length or studied for its root sources.

Now I think happiness is bound up in generosity made possible by what Arthur Brooks refers to as “earned success” inhis wonderful The Road To Freedom.  Which is why all the merchants working so hard today and in the weeks ahead –long store hours, special sales and promotions etc– are not so much about profit as they are about success, and why the tradition of gift-buying and giving –which is most visible from today through Christmas– is a great feature of American free enterprise, as is the tradition of donating in this season to the lost and the least.  Critics of capitalism often miss that this giant engine of prosperity makes the world go around and in so doing unleashes creative energy and the production of goods and services that lift people and indeed nations out of poverty.

Earlier this year I spent a segment a week for ten weeks with Dr. Wayne Grudem or his co-author Barry Asmus discussing their book The Poverty of Nations.  I spent so much time on the book with Dr. Grudem because people genuinely concerned with the poor have to both help those in immediate and terrible distress –as the Salvation Army does– but they also have to be smart about lifting whole economies out of no-growth or sluggish growth situations.  This is the genius of free enterprise, and why companies like Sea Bags, or Apple, or Toyota or the restaurant that just opened in your town all make possible human flourishing –happiness, by another word.

Makes possible, but does not ensure.  That requires generosity, the use of the proceeds of free enterprise in wise, productive, indeed virtuous ways.  That’s the subject of The Happiest Life, my new book, which is not available for Black Friday purchasing except prospectively as it publishes on 12/31.  Almost everything that we know about happiness points to the same fundamental truths known since Scripture was produced and written on the hearts of men and women since they started life together.  It is the same truth you experience even if not quite consciously when you put your spare change or more in the Red Kettle.



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