Joe Paterno is perhaps one of the most iconic figures in sports today. As head football coach of Penn State University, "JoePa" as he is known, has amassed the most Division 1 wins in the sport, while graduating players and keeping the program one of the few who have never been sanctioned by the NCAA. His lifelong motto and mantra has been Success With Honor.
And for those of you in the know, Joe has also been a lifelong Republican. He was friends with Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. He is a wealthy man because of his longevity and success on and off the field, but has been quite generous in funding a library, faith center, and many other projects at or around Penn State.
However, in an interview published yesterday in the Reading Eagle (PA newspaper), JoePa's one answer in response to a question about the funding of higher education caught me by surprise:
I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who have a lot of money and who are being asked by the government to give a little more.More after the jump
The complete question and answer is this:
Q: Are you concerned about the cuts proposed by the governor and how they might affect Penn State?The complete quote sort of mashes together government and higher education, and taxes and philanthropy, but I believe the overall intent is clear: The rich, Paterno included, have to give more.
A: Sure I am. We don't have the endowment Harvard has. We have to have some people who have benefited from a state-supported institution to understand they have an obligation. Things are tough now. We can't let a couple generations of kids hang out there to dry and not get the kind of education they need.
I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who have a lot of money and who are being asked by the government to give a little more. The Gates family gives millions and millions of dollars. (Nike chairman) Phil Knight has given millions of dollars to universities. You gotta give it.
What a refreshing and antiquated thought! One that surely the current brand of conservatism would not espouse. In light of the recent discussions about the role of taxes in the budget and debt ceiling, the GOP position is clear: No more taxes, especially on top earners, evar!!!
Joe Paterno has lived so long, and been so successful, because he has maintained a core set of principles for decades. Take care of the little things; don't get too high when you win and don't get too low when you lose; take a walk every day; be loyal to your friends and family; his decades of words of wisdom fills many a sports-writers book.
In this area, I only wonder if perhaps the modern Republican Party hasn't left him in the dust; JoePa hasn't changed in his commitment to education and his vision of the role of the wealthy in society, but most certainly those who speak for and have been elected by the right have.