|A rising tide and all that|
A rising tide lifts all boats....
-John F. Kennedy, October 3, 1963.
The provenance of this phrase has been traced to the slogan of the New England Council, a regional business organization. It is a phrase we hear from our own chamber and its satellite organizations, even more so recently. These days the phrase usually poses as an easy answer to difficult questions regarding who benefits from the economic development promised by the promised development of Rochester as a destination medical center. It goes something like this: "A rising tide lifts all boats," someone declaims. Those who own the boats nod approvingly.
"A rising tide lifts all boats" brings with it certain assumptions like, one has a boat. Some do not have boats. Some boats are not in good-repair. Some boats are very crowded. Rising tides swamp some boats. Other boats sink. Folks without boats drown (or, as we also hear to approving nods, they "sink or swim" and that seems to be all that needs saying about that).
President Kennedy also said that day, "I would like to see us in this decade preparing as we must for all of the people who will come after us." The conversation we must have in this decade cannot be just about the rising tide, it must also be about boats.