“We can’t help everyone,” Ronald Reagan said, “but everyone can help someone.” That optimistic take on scarcity is the heart of America. We try to forget it when we see big problems and advocate for big solutions, but we know instinctively that change is personal. Supporters of traditional public schools and of educational options alike point to the impact individual teachers can have on individual students.

Although Reagan’s adult life is based in California, he was born in Illinois and his was a Midwestern optimism constrained by realism

Another Midwesterner, John Hendrickson highlighted a talk Ricketts delivered at Hillsdale College in Michigan last November. Ricketts touted his ability to slow government spending from a rate of 6.5 percent to 0.6 percent, institute Six Sigma in government agencies, recast Nebraska’s unemployment benefits into a reemployment program, and launch Bring Up Nebraska with local organizations to help families and children.

Ricketts emphasized the importance of private, local charity in solving problems.

For all the people who need our help in society, there is one thing we in government cannot do. We can’t love. Only people can love, and those people have to be local in your community to be able to do that because for the people who need our help the path to recovery is not a straight path. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back and when they take that step back someone has got to be there to love them back on that path to success. That requires a person. That’s not going to come from the government.