Dad’s lessons on house painting — and global cooperation

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Sell paint? To people who don’t buy paint? Tough sell, even if the need is desperate.

An op-ed by Tom Winter, July 10 2016

“Papa, that farmhouse really needs paint! Let’s stop here!”

Papa, an itinerant salesman traveling in paint, did not stop the horse. The buckboard continued down the country road. Another farmhouse hove into view, practically gleaming, so well-maintained.

“We’ll stop here.”

“But why Papa? The house doesn’t need paint, and neither does the barn.”

“They use paint and know what it’s good for. We’ll sell paint here. At that last house I’d have to make two sales, first to use paint in the first place, and second, to buy the paint from us.”

This was one of great uncle Roger’s favorite stories, illustrating a lesson he learned from his dad.

Of course analogies cannot prove a point. They can only illustrate a point, or invite us to think of the familiar in a new way. It applies to Trump, Clinton, and America’s position in the world.

Trump, who knows about NATO, and realizes that we share a planet with Russia and with China, has to make two sales. 

“Wouldn’t it be great if we were friends with Russia and China?” – he said. What a great product! And of course, we were friends, 70-some years back.

Yes, Mr Trump, this would be great. But this steading that we inhabit has festered and worn and been deliberately left unpainted and unmaintained for generations. 

That first sale must be made. 

Our House must be scraped, caulked, painted — with partnership and cooperation, not left to fall apart with the dilapidation of hell-bent hegemony.

Donald Trump is the only US salesman trying to make that first sale. The product is first class; it deserves a better person to make the presentation.

Of course, this essay could be much much longer, but stretching an analogy generally turns toward the absurd. Fair enough. The situation itself has already gotten there.

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