There’s a “Profile of Sen. Jack Reed” by G. Wayne Miller in Sunday’s (April 27) Providence Journal (ProJo). It is very well written and provides significant insight into Sen. Reed’s life, from his and his parents’ roots to today, which is of interest for this rumored possible vice Presidential candidate or possible Secretary of Defense, who is described as the 17th most powerful senator in one poll cited in the article.
Miller spent time documenting the Senator’s activities recently, including a trip to West Point (Reed’s alma mater), various meetings on Capitol Hill, and numerous interviews with the press (one such interview with NYT’s Floyd Norris saw Reed quoted in, “Why Surprises Still Lurk After Enron,” on Feb. 29, 2008).
Reed has been mentioned from time to time in this blog due to his role as chair of the Securities, Investment and Insurance subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee which has jurisdiction over the SEC and related areas. For example, it was Reed’s subcommittee that held the watershed hearing on “International Accounting Standards: Opportunities, Challenges, and Global Convergence Issues” on October 24, 2007, shortly before the SEC voted on Nov. 15, 2007 to remove the reconciliation requirement for foreign private issuers. (The SEC is currently considering whether to propose a rule to permit –or require – U.S. companies to file financial statements with the SEC in International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) instead of U.S. GAAP. See our IFRS related coverage last week; check out our June 5 conference, “The World is Moving to IFRS – Are You?” at www.financialexecutives.org/ifrs.) Reed’s subcommittee also presciently convened a hearing a year ago – on April 17, 2007 – on “Subprime Mortgage Market Turmoil: Examining the Role of Securitization.”
ProJo’s Miller and NYT’s Norris noted Reed sent a letter to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in February. The letter, as described by Norris: “ask[ed] detailed questions about what went wrong” with respect to a lack of transparency in the subprime crisis, “and how it should be fixed.” Norris continued, “Getting together answers to [Reed’s] questions could provide the S.E.C. with a road map to determine where the rules failed, as well as where companies failed to apply the rules properly.” The letter was included as Appendix A-2 and A-3 in the March FASAC handouts.
Having read Miller’s profile of Sen. Reed, I noted especially Reed’s take on one of the most important lessons he gleaned from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government: “I discovered that I wasn’t the smartest guy in the room. And the other thing that I learned, which I think is useful, too, is that there are intellectual skills that are important but there are also temperamental skills: patience, listening to people, preparation, hard work, the ability to get along with people and to develop working relationships.”
I hope many young (and not so young) people are inspired by Reed’s story regarding his dedication to public service.
One resource for high school students (and adults) interested in learning more about public policy and public service which I’ve noted before in this blog - based on my participation as a volunteer instructor for a week in 2003 - is “Presidential Classroom” (PC).
PC is an exceptional one week program for high school students, and adults are encouraged to consider applying to serve for a one week session as a volunteer instructor. (Certain government agencies and certain private sector companies and schools provide leave time to serve as PC volunteer instructors for one week, as part of fulfilling an agency’s or company’s dedication to volunteer service.) Not only is it fascinating to take part as a volunteer instructor at PC to facilitate dialogue among diverse students on public policy issues, it is also exciting to participate in meetings on capitol hill, embassy and federal agency visits.
One of the most important lessons I found as a volunteer instructor at PC, is it really gives you some perspective when you come from a ‘desk job’ and meet fellow instructors who have the courage to risk their lives every day with the police department, fire department, or the military – about half the volunteer instructors I participated with held such positions, the rest were mainly lawyers, sprinkled with a few doctors, judges, scientists and teachers; my roommate was a Marine helicopter pilot.
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