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March 28, 2009

America the Senile

Statue of Liberty NYC
The Lady is showing her age
Last night I was talking with my neighbor about this, that and the other and the subjects of Yankee ingenuity and self reliance came up. I made the comment that both of these wonderful qualities seem to be on the vane. My neighbor replied that countries age.

This morning my neighbor's comment brought up another line of thinking, How long have I known America? My first visit was in 1946. Since America was established as a Republic in 1776, 233 years ago, I have known her for over one quarter of her lifetime, 63 years, time enough to see change happening.

In some respects, mostly material, the change has been wonderful. People live longer and have more wealth that 63 years ago. The only really fearsome enemy, the USSR, was defeated. Yet Americans seem content to give up what is most precious in human life, their liberty. They make burdensome laws for themselves in the name of protecting their safety, their wealth and notions of morality that I don't share because they conflict with individual liberty.

Unfortunately Americans don't seem to be able to learn from their own history. As Santayana warned, those who forgot Prohibition are repeating it with The War on Drugs. Prohibition made Canadian whiskey traders, the Mafia and the Kennedy clan rich but it did not stop Americans from consuming alcohol. It is a pipe dream to think that The War on Drugs will be any more effective in curbing drug consumption. But it has made Drug Cartels rich and powerful and it has claimed thousands of lives making entire countries unsafe to live in. Such is the price of this nefarious war.

There are many other ways that Americans have given away their liberties. The Patriot Act degrades anyone who wants to travel. Not only do you have to take off your shoes, the "authorities" have the right to search every orifice of your body. Of course, you, being a potential criminal, are not to be trusted with a penknife on board, not even with a bottle of water. In finance, while the criminals who sell naked shares short are aided and abetted by the SEC, supposedly a law enforcement agency, the innocent managers are shackled with idiotic rules like mark-to-market accounting converting managers into robots whose only function is to follow rules. Honest managerial thinking and risk taking are banned in the name of securing shareholders wealth. And the managers who did bring the system down are given golden parachutes instead of jail terms.

America has lost its way. America has become senile. Sad.

Denny Schlesinger

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Last updated March 8, 2009.