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The Disappearing America

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Let’s talk of the disappearing America – of the idealistic sixties, of the Kennedy years and Peace Corps, of the flower generation, the hippie revolution and Vietnam of course, of the Columbia and Watts riots, Wounded Knee, the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King, of  good ole corporate responsibility when jobs were plentiful, the unions were reasonable and the worker was a valued asset, of times when we still had a strong manufacturing base and well-to-do middle class, when the label "Made in USA" meant something both at home and abroad, when greed, cutting corners and the bottom line weren't the only things that mattered.

I was a child of the sixties. She missed it by a decade. It made no difference, however, as she voiced concerns of her own.

She spoke of the immigration problem which neither party would address and which started making inroads into the local job market, and of outsourcing – a kind of process in reverse whereby jobs were being transferred overseas to places like India or Taiwan, where pidgin-English was preferable to retaining a higher-salaried, American workforce. It started affecting the insurance industry, her own employer. None of us have begrudged the rest of the world becoming enriched on the coattails of American prosperity. But was it right, we wondered, when it came at the expense of its own people?

We both agreed this was still the best place on earth as evidenced by the invading hordes – people from all corners of the world, of every accent, skin color and culture, coming in droves, daily, legally and illegally. Nowhere else would they be rather than here. But for how long? And for what reason? We questioned their loyalty. What stake did they have in America? Didn't they come here just to rape her, to take their spoils, to squeeze her lifeless and dry, to make their money and run, only to leave her like some useless carcass, all-barren and in tears, when there was nothing else left to take?

It still was, we both thought, the land of opportunity. But in the eyes of many, including many of its citizens, it was quickly becoming a narrowly-defined, almost vulgar concept, delimited more and more to the money-making proposition, to accumulation of wealth for its own sake, to enriching oneself by hook or by crook, to the devil-may-care type of attitude while the country and its people were going down the drain.

But that wasn't what America was supposed to be about. Freedom was. Freedom from government, from undue interference and excessive regulation, freedom of religion and worship, freedom to pursue your own idea of happiness, however construed, freedom to excel in any area whatever, freedom to become whomever you wanted to become; and yes, even the freedom or the right to disagree with your government and its policies, freedom of speech, the right to civil disobedience in the honorable tradition of Emerson and Thoreau.

All these have been bestowed on us by our Constitution as our unalienable rights. Pursuit of financial or economic independence, both as a nation and on the part of its citizenry, though an admirable expression of that freedom, wasn't meant to preempt it, let alone cancel out equally worthwhile if not more admirable pursuits.

It has always been the beauty of America, its singular attraction, that it was never one-dimensional but accorded its people opportunities for full development in any area whatever – not just in accumulation of wealth but in arts, crafts, technical and scientific innovation, research, physical culture. All this was captured once by that unforgettable, though now defunct, phrase – "the American dream." Or by Walt Whitman's notion of America as an idea, as the great experiment, as the hope of humankind. And at the bottom of it all was freedom.

The creative energies, the American spunk and perseverance, its fortitude against any and all odds, its domination in the field of science and technology – all were a by-product of that freedom, its direct or less direct manifestations. But our golden age of television was long gone. And so it was with the Hollywood era, the times when we could still dream of heroes. The best in the American jazz hadn't seen its heyday since the sixties. And it was no different with rock 'n' roll, that all-American icon of pop culture: we couldn't think of anything memorable or noteworthy past the seventies.

Even the best in musicals – the uniquely American invention of making Johann Strauss and opéra bouffe accessible to the American palate – have been of late either English or French-originated productions: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Les Miz were a case in point. All have fallen victim to the vulgarization of culture, to reducing it to the lowest common denominator, to increasing the paying base, to selling out to quick profit and box-office success. Only in computer technologies and software development did we still excel, but there was a reason for this: because of a worldwide demand for ever-cheaper, better products, it was one area in which both quality and profit could still go hand in hand. Hence Bill Gates, presumably the richest man in the world and possibly the last icon of American excellence.

We didn't mind, of course, the rest of the world catching up. Ideally, we both thought, all governments and human societies should emulate our way. The whole world would be better for it. But we weren't quite ready for global government, charitable or Christian as such an idea might be. They haven't prepared us for this. Even less were we ready for our own government selling-out to international business interests and cartels. We were afraid of losing our country in the process.

And so we talked, and shared, and communed.

It was two in the morning.

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • Horace Mungin

    Roger,the nobility of the American ruling-class has gone away for a period – how long? Who knows. But a time will come when the elite will regain its Beneficent guardianship over the working-classes – its the only way America works. The present day imbalance is terminal.

  • Doug Hunter

    Roger,

    I had recently given up this futile hobby here on blogcritics but I thought I should make one more observation. I was going to post on your healthcare article but so many beat me to the punch in regards to the so called social contract… another method of excusing limiting the freedom of others. Anyway…

    ‘Only in computer technologies and software development did we still excel, but there was a reason for this’ – Roger

    The reason is government has not got it’s finger directly in this pie. Computer technology and the internet have remained largely free from government interference here and have prospered because of it.

    The difference between the 60’s and now? Real standard of living and GDP growth have slacked off as Government spending at all levels has mushroomed… exactly what one currently unpopular piece of the political spectrum warned you about all along. Your writing of freedom reads hollow in this context as the only power of government is to tax, regulate, and form laws which are by definition the limiting of freedoms.

    I know it is not possible for you to see the world in this way. More of the same thing that got us here will not get us out, yet that is exactly what the American people are voting for. An empire in decline, the nobility of the American ruling-class is gone…. forever. We are destined now to tread water with Europe, struggling under the weight of our government behemoth, until another leader emerges. I suppose it is the East’s turn to rule.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    You covered much of the same ground I did in an essay I wrote last night. I’m debating whether to submit my essay here. My essay is not davka centered on America, however but on a country that may well see itself as its inheritor.

    Not a bad job. It was a pleasant surprise, actually.

    Horace, this is not said with malice, but with the cold eyes of one seeing History moving on. The present imbalance is terminal, as you say. I do not believe it to be temporary.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Ruvy, thank you. I got tired of doing “think” pieces all the time, and wanted to speak “from the heart.” So don’t say I don’t share some of the sentiments that you express at times, though with greater bitterness. I, too, experience a sense of loss, greater perhaps because this is my home.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Doug,

    Your picture is one-sided as well. I do speak of times, recall, when corporations had a sense of responsibility to the community and the consumers, employees, and the citizens. Granted, these were times before globalization. But you can’t just single out the government as the source and the cause of all ills. It’s all interconnected. The growth of the government, of corruption, of collusion between public and private interests, cannot be seen in isolation, as though a development unto itself, but must be considered in light of the larger picture – and partly at least, as a response to changes in the business world as well.

    I find it odd, however, that you regard the notion of “social contract” in the way you do, especially for a self-billed conservative. You should be more cognizant of the fact that freedom and rights come with responsibility. The notion of contract implies responsibility going both ways: government doing its bit and so do the individuals. It’s a voluntary agreement (in a manner of speaking), not any kind of bondage.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Horace (#1),

    I do like the way you put it. It shows me that a measure of economic inequality is not something we necessarily ought to fight tooth and nail. It’s part of the American way that not everyone is EQUALLY rich and prosperous, and that class envy is foreign to the American psyche. We’re much more generous people for that, to be begrudging our neighbor a newer car or a bigger house. What’s more important and more characteristic of what America used to be is certain egalitarianism, economic differences aside, and yes – a certain sense of brotherhood.

    I hope I am not misunderstanding the gist of your comment. And by the way, what I think you meant by your last line is that the present day imbalance is temporal (not terminal).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    If it IS terminal, Ruvy, as Horace apparently misspoke, then indeed US will never recover.

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Bravo, Roger. Well written.

    My key concern is the diminishing of our freedoms and the greater divide of the people. We’re more divided now than we were in the ’60s, if you can believe that. A lot of the change is a cultural shift (your vulgarization), and it’s going to take a long time and some hardship before things shift back. We might have to lose our freedom before we realize how precious it is.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, Joanne. We are more divided because it’s become all me, me, me – from unscrupulous unions like UAW (which, rather than tightening their belt in hard times and doing what they could to save the industry, they chose instead to ride the wave and take everybody to the cleaners) to corporate greed. It’s all about number one – like a bunch of rats on a sinking Titanic. And yes, we have become childlike and mindless – with our toys and diversions and celebrity worship. I guess prosperity for the masses without education – not a happy formula.

    It doesn’t bide well.

  • Horace Mungin

    Roger, I meant what I said – the present day imbalance in terminal, but unlike Ruvy, I beleive that we will recover from it. As I said in the preamble statement – Its the only way America works.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Now I get it, Horace. It’s more akin to my way thinking, which is to say, there’s no turning back.

    But yes … we will recover, of that I’m certain.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    BTW, Horace, next time you check in here, it’s been on my mind for long.

    You do remind me of Mr. Tom Berkley. I had a long time association with Mr. Berkley, in a professional and social capacity. Quite an accomplished person, a late Honorary Counsel to Senegal, an ex-friend of Fidel Castro, a Director of Oakland Port Authority, an attorney, newspaper publisher and an athlete. It was a great loss to see him die.

    It’s too bad they don’t have a snapshot – but almost a spitting image of you. I hope you’ve heard of the man.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Here’s another link.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    we have become childlike and mindless – with our toys and diversions and celebrity worship. I guess prosperity for the masses without education – not a happy formula.

    It is a happy formula – for the elites who no longer have to take the masses seriously. And Pablo will tell you that it is not a mere accident of history – and he will be right.

    It is one of the reasons I am not optimistic about a real recovery for America.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Ruvy, regretfully I agree. As much as I want Barack Obama to succeed for the sake of this country it will not happen. Recovery for the United States begins with a complete upheaval of the political finance system. In addition, it’s time for the remainder of the Republican Party to declare a Jihad on the Far Right and drive them into the wilderness.

    As every day goes by I am less inclined to have faith in our ability to rebuild. Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands are looking more appealing to me every day. Somehow I don’t think my ancestors who sacrificed so much to be a part of the American dream would be happy with the way things have turned out.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, Ruvy. I didn’t want to be blunt, but I believe it is by design. And the American public only deserves the government it gets.
    Why don’t you publish your essay anyway, especially since you have a successor in mind.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ll tell you something, Silas. If I were in Europe right now, I certainly wouldn’t be thinking anymore of making this my country. But that was 1961.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Roger, it amazes me as to how stupid we have become. My grandfather came to this country because he wanted to give his children more opportunity than he had. Until 50 years ago, parents worked their asses off to insure that their kids would have a better life. There’s just one problem. Along the way we forgot about quality education, civic responsibility and personal accountability. We’ve spawned two succeeding generations of Americans who have no clue as to what was sacrificed to give them the lives they have. Unfortunately, we’re spawning a third generation of the same.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Silas,

    In my family, they did not quit working their asses off in the States (remember I left the States, I’m not part of this charmed circle) to give their children better lives. My grand-nephews and fourth cousins have risen very high in American society – too high for Jews, in fact. When things go bad, I fear they will be targets – because they are Jews, and because they are high up on the food chain – trophies in the closet for the Protestant ruling elite to display – for the mob to attack when things do go bad. And they will go bad. When you have 10 times the amount of money floating around than you have gross domestioc product, you have a dime on the dollar economy. And that’s what you got developing quickly.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I think it’s typical for the first wave/generation of immigrants to work their asses off.

    My father, a stage actor in Polish National Theater (equivalent to Vic’s) worked as an electrician; my mother, also a stage actress in Poland, was a cleaning lady. But neither I nor my sister took that route.

    Second and third generations tell a different tale. But I don’t think that’s the problem. Work ethic is gone and easy money has become the life and the way. Perhaps prosperity brought this about; people lost a sense of reality, started thinking that prosperity could sustain itself without productive activity. Well, they’ve been proven wrong.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Correction: should be “the Old Vic”

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    My babci (grandmother) used to say, you will never understand until you see blood in the sand. She kept reminding us that we had no clue about the horror of war. In the next global conflict we could very well see blood spilled on our land. The problem is that we’re so technologically savvy and self absorbed that we have no clue how to survive in the raw.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    In a way, it’s scary because the modern wars are unreal. It would be more honest to just have to troops on the ground – no smart bombs and any of that stuff. Only then, perhaps, we would be more leery of starting a war.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Doug Hunter, #2 Computer technology and the Internet have remained largely free from government interference here and have prospered because of it.

    This is a very good point you make. The government doesn’t have it’s finger in the “pie” of the internet, and this is not fair to the multitude of small business owners who have to pay property taxes out in the real world.

    If these profiteers are on line they ought to pay taxes! Wouldn’t you agree?

    Good article Roger! I’ll be back later tonight…:)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Thanks, Jeannie. And let’s bring Doug back. He’s one of the few reasonable voices from the right. And he listens even to the opposing view.

  • Clavos

    The government doesn’t have it’s finger in the “pie” of the internet…

    The (our) government owns the internet — the net itself, not the websites. It can do more than any other entity on earth to control it, if it chooses to do so.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    We’ll talk later, Jeannie, tomorrow perhaps. And if not, you’ll know the reason.

  • Irene Wagner

    It looks like Jeannie, Cindy and I are having to play tag-team to keep Roger Nowosielski in line!
    Read it twice, one more pass to go (it’s interesting enough to be doable)…and maybe I’ll comment before I have to quit for the day.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, it’ll take both of you, I suppose, because if I and Cindy be left to our own devices, no possible good can come out of it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, next time, Irene. I’m turning in. Plus, George Noory is on (Coast-to-Coast AM).

  • Irene Wagner

    Don’t discount the possibility that Cindy would win, Roger!

  • Irene Wagner

    This article ends with “it was two o’clock in the morning,” and then, no promise of a sequel? We all “write our own endings” in this comment thread!

    I’ve come up with three. Maybe I’ll post them in three installments. Or two, or one. Or none. They’re more or less happy endings, or at least tolerable interludes.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Irene,

    I am like a cat and Roger is like a goldfish bowl. Sometimes I stick my paw in and I catch a fish. Most of the time my attention is so riveted on the maneuvers of the fish, I am tempted to reach too far and I end up soaked and hissing.

    Raw Story says Cheney will write a memoir. I wonder what it’s called? I’ve been a Dick all my life?

  • Irene Wagner

    *chuckles sleepily*
    Yer funny, Cindy but I must hit the hay.

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    RuvY: “I’m debating whether to submit my essay here”.

    Submit and be damned Ruve. We’re always up for what you have to say … and, dare I say it, it always makes for lively discussion :).

    Do it old boy!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You’re no cat, Cindy. Finesse you don’t have. More like a bull in a china shop.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    There is no more new frontier.
    We have got to make it here…
    We satisfy our endless needs.
    Justify our bloody deeds…
    In the name of destiny.
    And in the name of GOD…
    Eagles

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Apropos ending(s), Irene, you’re sooooo right. The same goes for the beginning.

    What you’re looking at is an expository lump. Can’t say more.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Hi, Jeannie. Welcome back.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Stan,

    In a hilarious twist, stoned marsupials are responsible for crop circles in Oz.

  • Clavos

    Wonder how they tell them from the Aussies? :>)

  • Zedd

    Roger,

    I think that it has to be clear that the idea of the American Dream is an artistic expression of the interpretation of what could be. It is not a right granted to us in The Constitution. As we know dreams rarely ever come true. They exist in non-dimensional worlds where hang overs, snoring and bad breath don’t dare visit. So, it should be clear first off that there is never the fruition of something that doesn’t exist. When observing the beauty of lands afar, one can only attest to the fact that ingenuity, striving and excellence has always been a human preoccupation. Just a glimpse of the city Budapest nods to the idea of the pursuit of human kind. I suppose the “human dream”.

    What America offers is the opportunity to re-invent oneself. Not the opportunity to do it elegantly.

    Second point

    What you omitted in your beautifully written piece is that a large percent of Bill Gate’s employes in America are immigrants. That in the technology sector, whether it is in the universities or in the corporations, the immigrant population is disproportionately represented. Our advances in science have come largely because of the influx of our planet’s greatest minds.

    Thirdly

    I am glad that we don’t have the heroes of the 60’s, mainly because we don’t need them. We need other people to address new problems. We don’t need hippies because they were rather naive. Thank goodness we don’t need MLK (whew).

    We are going global because we are a global society. We communicate with people all over the globe in real time. We watch the same Youtube videos and laugh or cry. A person in Bangladesh could get the news about Michael Jackson’s death text to him from his cousin in Brixton, England who got it from twitter through his brother in law in New Zealand quicker that a person next door to the hospital that he died in.

    We are global. Our landscape has changed. The real challenge is for Americans, who have the freedom to access so much, to become globally minded and create solutions and products that address that reality. Our marketplace has expanded and we have the freedom, out of the box thinking and enginuity to address it. The problem is we don’t realize it.

    Instead of the good old days, there is a potential for the great new days. We’ve simply got to expand our thinking.

    Thoughts?

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Thank goodness we don’t need MLK (whew).

    I guess we don’t need any MLKs if we are to busy shopping to pay attentions to all the wars all over the place!

    Second, what does the American Dream result in but a house full of crap that no one uses and a world full of sweatshops? And a bunch of bored middle-class people who present a growing market for prozac manufacturers.

    Fuck the American Dream, it’s nothing but something sold to the lower classes to prevent them from rebelling. It’s nothing but a dangling carrot.

    The American Dream is the spam in your inbox, it’s nothing but a commercial. Time to rise and shine my sleepy friends. Wakey wakey. The world your American Dream created is full of blood and gore.

    The world is getting smart. We need a ‘army’ of MLKs–nothing less.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Zedd,

    Thanks for checking in.

    Let me just say it was a lyrical piece, an excerpt from a novel in which I dealt with issues in a much more substantative ways. It’s just a character speaking, of course autobiographical to the core, expressing sentiment and nostalgia.

    I am capable, as you no doubt are aware, of a more incisive and critic approach. Still, I miss the likes the Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable – call it a weakness – because they were “larger than life.” I plead guilty.

    To close, I know of course the changes we’ve all gone through in the past fifty years or so are irreversible, and that we’re all called upon to do our best to do put our minds to new thinking and new kinds of solutions. No doubt about it.

    So look at this as a kind of reminiscence – a kind of look at the past with an eye to our loss of innocence. Paradise Lost.

    If I failed to address parts of your thoughtful comment, let me know so I will deal with the specifics. But I thought best to first respond to the general tenor of your remark in order to clear up any possible misunderstanding.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “critical approach”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    My preliminary answer to #43 is that not everyone is cut to be a revolutionary. Some people – in fact, I’d say a great majority of them – would be satisfied with a house of their own, kids, and family life. Nothing out of the extraordinary. And it’s not my prerogative to blame them.

    How it comes about? The fact that “American Dream” may come at the expense of others who are still in the grip of hunger and poverty? Of course I don’t condone that. But I’m also cognizant of the fact that not everyone yet can share in what used to be “American prosperity.” It should in fact be one of the most important objectives of all of us who are more fortunate that the rest, to make prosperity affordable to all. And thus, to leave it up to the people to decide how they choose to live their lives. But at the very least, the option should be available to all.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “cut out”

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Paradise Lost?

    Revolution is not necessary, only waking up. Fairly available information allows for reasonable interpretation of reality. We need to hear and see experiences of others and be alive right now…not tuned in to the thrum of socialization media and living dead in the imagination of false dreams handed down from the blind to blind.

    Or Gone with the Wind?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Don;t worry about the state of my consciousness.

  • Zedd

    Cindy,

    On MLK… I meant that we don’t need that particular movement. Not that we don’t need a person with his type of courage. MLK was just what we needed at that time. We have really smart people right now who are ideal for this time. Yes we’ve grown bubble headed and lazy but this too is a necessary phase. We cant evolve without this stage. We needed Bush and Paris Hilton, hummers, and bling followed by global instability and economic meltdown to show us that that is not the way. Now we know it and we shall move on. We now know that the “Free Market” or the idealization of the healing power of “market forces” is naive. That it is just a theory, untested and not a universal principle. We are smarter and we’ve taken another meaningful step in our evolution. In a few decades, if not years those concepts about human behavior and economics will be viewed as we now view social darwinian notions – fancy and complex sounding but a sign of the naivety of the time and our rudimentary scientific knowledge.

    Back to MLK….(sorta)

    If your utopia is to be, there will be people who will bring it to fruition at that time. What is most important is that we as individuals live out our lives with truth and conviction, joy and kindness. It is certain that we shall all surely die. Whether we spend our lives tormenting our fellowman because of our own deep seated angst or seeing rot in the midst of beauty, our demise is certain and we will be forgotten. Humanity will go on fighting and reconciling, cheating and giving, loving and hating. They will learn AND forget the lessons of the past. They will suffer, starve AND lavish in splendor. Each one however will still have their lives to live. They will be charged with the task of living it as best as they can.

    My hope is that we will all be more cognizant of how we treat one another as individuals. That we will do less finger pointing and really focus on our own tendencies. No system can mandate kindness. No system can cure the human heart, be it anarchism or anything else.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It does start with individual persons, Zedd, and person-to-person relations.

  • Zedd

    Roger,

    I recognized and appreciated the style in which you wrote your piece. Awesomeness!!

    I solicited your thoughts to determine your view on the American Dream. What do you define it as?

    I also needed for you to acknowledge that Americas true strength comes from the basic fact that we keep an influx of smart folks coming in. It is the immigrant population that has kept us innovative. In many cases, the third+ generation Americans become complacent and loose the drive and spirit that we are known for. They often rest on the notion that being American is simply enough to make one posses excellence. They have to reason to re-invent or transform their world because they feel as if they are the ideal. So please do at least touch on that note, if you are in agreement. :o)

    Lastly, days gone by are always the good old days. For example, every person that I know who has ever attended boarding school tends to complain about the deplorable conditions that they live under, the horrible food and the unreasonably stringent rules that they are forced to live under while they are there. Almost to a man, years later they all seem to reminisce with fondness about the good old days in boarding school. They spend the remainder of their lives repeatedly relaying their experiences with a romantic retrospective, in many cases to the detriment of those who love them. The past is often times romantic and lacks the grittiness of the mundaneness that comes with “right now”. I’m in Texas and it is waaaaay too hot right now. It’s torture. When I step out, it’s like there is some sort of conspiracy. It feels like those westerns where everything is tainted with a dusty haze and everyone is moving real slow, too tired to even give each other eye contact. The short, five step walk from my front door to my car seems to be much to much to ask of any human being. There is an intense desire to cry loudly when realizing that the trip to the store has ended and I must make the trek to the entrance of the grocery store. My urge to weep is only stopped by the fact that it would take too much energy and the tears would be dehydrating thus causing the journey ahead to be much more hellish that it will soon be. So I vacate the car like a brave but uncommitted soldier- Not really sold on the mission ahead- Just moving one foot in front of the next, merely existing until the air condition meets my dying flesh. This is my reality today. It will be that way for two and a half more months. However, I will forget and remember the few highlights that sparked in the midst of this conspired torture. It’s hard for me to imagine but today will be one of the good old days.

  • Zedd

    “They have NO reason to re-invent or transform their world because they feel as if they are the ideal.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “I also needed for you to acknowledge that Americas true strength comes from the basic fact that we keep an influx of smart folks coming in. It is the immigrant population that has kept us innovative.”

    Of course, and I haven’t meant to negate it – it’s the culture mix, made possible by certain freedoms, which, IMO, is almost uniquely responsible for the kind of explosion in energy, spirit of innovation, and opportunities. That’s why I spoke of these freedoms (to excel in whatever area) as having been essential for all kinds of success and the unique trademark of the American society.

    And BTW, when I spoke of the loss of innocence (or Paradise Lost), it wasn’t meant to suggest everything was honky-dory or any such thing. We know it wasn’t so. But there was certain innocence, like child’s innocence. We had no idea what monsters hid in the closet.

    “It’s hard for me to imagine but today will be one of the good old days.”

    Well, isn’t it also because you’re still young, full of vigor and energy?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m not certain who are you referencing in #53.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Just rereading parts of your #42, like the following:

    “Instead of the good old days, there is a potential for the great new days. We’ve simply got to expand our thinking.”

    This is visionary and precisely the kind of thinking that is lacking. In a way, the present economic crises was inevitable, a matter of things having come to a peak – and not necessarily blamable on Wall Street, corporate greed, and government-business collusion (although all these factors facilitated and expediting the coming of the crisis). But it was bound to come to fruition sooner or later, with or without human help or hindrance, because the “old system” was no longer capable of dealing with the new world whose contours have changed and keep on changing. As always, history marches on and makes new demands on humans to make the necessary adjustments and create new kinds of opportunities, opportunities we couldn’t even dream of before.

    And it’s so with the crisis at hand. It is an opportunity first and foremost, and we had better not squander it or we’ll be left behind. If not us, somebody else will take the lead. You can bet on it. Still, America is in a unique position precisely because, as you stated, we have a history, albeit short, of reinventing ourselves, if not elegantly. At the very least, all the ingredients necessary for re-invention are still present and in full force.

  • Zedd

    #53 was a correction.

    Well, isn’t it also because you’re still young, full of vigor and energy?

    Don’t feel all that energetic in that heat…. But thanks for the “young” part. Add “cute” and or “gorgeous” and we’ll be pals for life!

  • Zedd

    @ #56

    Beautiful. I like the way you think.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, your mind certainly is.
    As to #56, I was merely responding to your thoughts – trying to fill in the blanks.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “In many cases, the third+ generation Americans become complacent and loose the drive and spirit that we are known for. They often rest on the notion that being American is simply enough to make one posses excellence. They have no reason to re-invent or transform their world because they feel as if they are the ideal.”

    But that’s natural – you get fat and lazy and rest on your laurels. Prosperity has that effect on people, which is why hardship isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Ultimately, it all comes down to the individual persons and the matter of self-motivation. Some will always strive, perhaps because they’re endowed with an inner drive; others will just slack off.

    That’s where education must kick in – to instill in people a sense of self-worth and desire to excel. Even so, a general well-being must be the first step.

    Even on the individual level, certain basic needs must be satisfied before we can become activated by higher-level needs, like self-actualization (Maslow).

    Once we reach that point, you can remove some of the physical comforts (to an extent) and the individual will not revert back to his or her former, more primitive self – because you can’t forget what you’ve learned or who you are. But you can’t reach that level – and this is the important point – while all your life’s energies must be devoted to putting food on your table, or trying to find shelter day after day, and be absorbed on a regular basis with the business of sheer (physical) survival.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    In my own article, I was fuzzier on the details, but I think that China will put the screws to the USA to humiliate it – but good. And frankly, the USA needs to be humiliated by a foreign power – badly. Americans need to understand in their guts what it means to be screwed over by a foreign power – and no be abvle to do anything about but smile and say “yessir!”

    With that experience they may be able to make some kind of recovery in time. Otherwise, the imbalances in the States are terminal and you have blown your wad.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Perhaps you’re right. Being humiliated (as opposed to being humble) may turn a person around, although the odds are that it would precisely the opposite effect. Same with nations, especially those which are known for the arrogance.

    Of course, a dose of reality can be a wakeup call. The problem is, it’s next to impossible to be able to tell what the situation will be like in the immediate future. It is difficult to imagine any number of scenarios and fill it with details.

  • mrdockellis

    Rog,
    I have the answer.
    Things went bad cause . . . TV.

    When did mass use come in? 50s 60s
    Decline starts same time.

    More subtle and invidious changes in
    Dress
    decorum
    dialogue
    and finally thought pattern.

    Which leads to:
    selfish
    lazy
    entitled
    agitated
    insipid world view.

    Any other questions, I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

  • Bliffle

    Ruvy shows what little insight he has:

    “…I think that China will put the screws to the USA to humiliate it – but good. And frankly, the USA needs to be humiliated by a foreign power…”

    What’s really going to happen is that the USA is going to enter a period of runaway inflation, because it will finally be advantageous to the-powers-that-be to do so. That will devalue the dollar so much that the Chinese will be left holding an empty bag.

    All those cheap LCD HDTV’s that Americans bought will finally be paid off with depreciated dollars. Same for all the other imported goods we bought from others: we will possess the actual property (which has intrinsic value) and they will be stuck with cheap dollars (which only have extrinsic value).

    The Big Winners will be the banks (and their owners, the HaveMores) who will see the properties they acquired cheaply from mortgage panic sales start skyrocketing in value. Smaller winners will be small businessmen and middleclass people who are net debtors and see most of their debts wiped out by inflation. Losers will be people who were tightfisted, perhaps gold and commodity holders, poor people who will have to scramble to recover their meager wages, and people on relatively fixed incomes like SS recipients, pensioners, etc.

    The Federal Reserve has shot all it’s arrows (except actual dollar devaluation, which is all they have left, i.e., issuing New Dollars for Old Dollars) foolishly because they changed their goals from legitimate monetary policy to illegitimate political policy (i.e., propping up miscreant administrations).

    Interesting times ahead.

    When the history is written (if an honest reporter remains by then) it will be said that the powers-that-be cracked the whip to flick off small-timers and grab their wealth. First a recession that depressed house values and drove wage earners broke, thus facilitating the purchase of their meager properties at reduced prices, and then the inflationary phase to drive prices up.

    Zig and zag.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Bliffle,

    The Chinese invented paper money. They invented the idea behind paper money. Do you take them for total idiots? Do you think they will allow hype-inflation to get in the way of their seizing assets?