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Woodall Talks Money, Careers With Suwanee Students

The U.S. congressman answers questions and discusses Washington at Peachtree Ridge High.

U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall spoke to students in Suwanee last week, and he pushed a theme that often is not welcome in a classroom: failure.

"I wish failure on all of you," Woodall told students in a financial literacy class at on Friday, while engaging in questions, answers and discussion with students.

There was a method to his madness: failure, he said, means you've given it your best shot, that you have taken a risk. Entrepreneurship and job creation were at the core of his point.

"I tell my staffers that you better fail at something in the first 30 days," Woodall, whose Seventh District includes Suwanee, told students in Linda Brimmer's class. "You don't know what your maximum is until you fail."

Woodall sought to inspire the students to be risk takers. That is contrary to the tone being set in Washington D.C. these days.

"You can't have both (freedom and safety) at the same time," the congressman said. "I think we've moved too much toward safety and not far enough to freedom.

"Look for those risks," he said. "Nobody ever says, 'I wish I'd played it safer.'"

In Brimmer's class, textbook-free learning already is a reality. Students do all their work online, and explore such topics as career salaries, investments and home buying. At the end of the semester, Brimmer will burn their material onto a CD for them to take home.

Woodall feels that excessive regulations are the chief problems for businesses now. Responding to a student's question of, "If you were president, what would you do," Woodall said that he would put in a two-year moratorium on regulations. He noted that the inches-thick Federal Register is published daily with new regulations that businesses must follow.

"It would be like in a football game if every four downs, there are new rules, like you could start passing backwards," he said. "It would be crazy."

Other highlights of Woodall's session:

  • He said that 47 percent of Americans pay no taxes. "That's a bad plan ...  Everybody can afford a buck," noting such government services as roads, courts and parks. "If something is free, you don't use it wisely."
  • He heard students voice such career plans as CPA and pediatrics. "If you don't know (what your career path will be), don't be discouraged. You can take some good risks ... you might get an internship, or run for student council, or write the essay of your life."
  • On the Occupy Wall Street protests: "I love a good protest. The enemy is apathy -- it's what will destroy our country."
  • On the upcoming presidential election (after the class session ended): "It's too early to tell. It will probably gel between now and the end of the year."

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