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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Random Ruminations and Ponderous Ponderings

A good whiskey and a good book are not a bad way to spend an evening and indeed that is how much of this one will pass. Of course a good whiskey and a good woman would be even better but at least I don’t have to make dinner for the book. As a bonus it is highly unlikely that my copy of The Young Lions will look at me in six months and want to talk about my smoking drinking and gambling. Of course that only the ones I have met we were drunk smoking outside the casino so perhaps there is hope for me yet on that front. But I digress. It is not my point this eve to ramble on about my many wonderful characteristics and fine character but to think a little about the world we live in.

I am sick of even thinking about this economy but I have to from time to time. I keep hearing all these proclamations from inside the beltway and between the rivers stating that everything is better and the crisis has passed. If this is the case how come no one I talk with out here in the real world thinks so? I make it a point to talk to a cross section of people as I go through the world and all of them are still concerned. Their friends and loved one are getting laid off and they are underwater on their mortgage. The revenues at their businesses are declining and they are worried about the ever rising tide of regulations, fees and taxes being proposed at every level of government. They are far less optimistic than the talking heads on the boob tube.

It seems to escape the attention of our elected officials that we cannot tax and regulate our way back to prosperity. Keep in mind that the entire stimulus is your money given to someone else to decide how to spend. Even worse the government is borrowing in your name to spend money. Instead of looking for ways to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, the very engines that have grown our economy for centuries ,we are going to spend money on green energy projects that will actually raise the cost of living and going business. Instead of reducing taxes for the small business owners they buy bankrupt car companies and give a third of the equity to the Union that was much of the reason for the bankruptcy.

Part of the reason we got where we are has been our national apathy about our politics. I am convinced that if every American of voting age watched a few hours of C-Span a day the world would change very quickly. When you see the decisions being made and the process by which they are made you cannot help but be outraged. The deal making and pork barrel spending are outrageous and morally corrupt. We need for more folks to be mad, stand up and run against the professional politicians. I want a guy or gal in office who has sweated out a payroll. I want people in office who have gotten up at the crack of dawn to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids lunches while simultaneously balancing the checkbook and making coffee. I want someone who has worked 16 hour days to build a business. Even better if they failed a time or two along the way.

Someone has suggested before that I run a time or two. What a great speech that would be! I not only inhaled, I snorted chugged and imbibed my fellow Americans. Citizens of this great state, you should be aware that yeah, chances are I DID sleep with that woman. Let me tell you why you should vote for me and make me the very first congressman who spent much of his teenage years in the city lock up for an incredibly wide range of activities. For some reason I do not see that playing well. Incredibly we seem to expect our politicians to be pure without a single trace of humanity or reality in their souls. It is one of the reason we are where we are in my opinion. I would much rather have a skirt chasing womanizer who knows how to balance the budget than some character who has never had a real job and lived his entire life behind closed doors.

I was talking with a friend of mine last night who runs a good size business that is struggling in the weak economy. He talked of some of the same fears I have, rising deficits, increased taxes and regulations. He said something to me that I think brings us to the heart of the matter. “Tim I am not worried about me. I am worried about my kids having the same chance I did.” BINGO. That what I worry about. I look at those two incredible young adults who I am privileged to have call me dad and I worry about the world I will be giving them. Will they be able to take the chances, experiences the thrills and the spills of life the way I have. Will they be free to take an idea or their creativity and drive and use it to make a life for themselves? Not if we do not change things and quickly.

If we continue to remove creativity, drive and determination from our society we will become a nation of bureaucrats, functionaries, lawyers, and fast food workers just waiting on each other. What kind of world are we leaving our kids if the Army is seeing increased enrollment because employment opportunities are so bad you are willing to take a risk of being shot on sand dune or frigid mountain just to get some kind of paycheck? It is happening. Look your kids the eyes and ask if this is theworld we want to leave them? If you don’t have kids and are extraordinarily brave come look at my two little capitalists in the eye and tell them the path we are moving down, mortgaging not just their future but their future kids is okay.

When a nation is not growing, it is indeed dying. I apply this statement not just to our economy but our culture. When I look at the best seller lists and realize that it is almost entirely composed of vampire books and instruction manuals on losing weight on the fast food diet I worry about the future. I worry even more when I realize that the vast majority of Americans are waiting for the movie about vampires and cheeseburger diets to appear on pay per view. The music charts contain songs that have worse language than me with two snoots full of whiskey doing my best Hunter Thompson imitation and I worry. Do not get me wrong. I love good loud rock and roll and a trashy novel is like mind candy from time to time. I acknowledge my John D. McDonald, Robert Parker and Randy Wayne White addictions. At least those books have important lessons on mixing great cocktails, cooking good food and throwing the perfect punch. A nation of television drones drowning in booming bass beat is probably not learning to think and imagine the way previous generation were able to experience.

I want to leave my kids and potential grandkids a world that still has great music and great books. I want them to be able to take an idea and run with it. I want them to deal with life’s bumps and failures that occur by going back to work not looking for a government bail out. I want them toexperince the magic celebratory nights of victory, champagne and laughter. I want them to be prepared to deal with the cheap whiskey and cheaper tears when it doesn’t work out as intended and be able to get up the next morning and start over. I want them to savor their achievements and not watch an avaricious government come in and take more than half the fruits of their labor in the name of income equality and social justice. I want them to have a life of first kisses and broken hearts, of good friends and great times, of loud laughter and soft tears and most importantly to know that is all theirs on their own hook and effort.

We live in a great nation in an incredible world. I have been blessed with an incredible life. I have failed in my usual spectacular fashion along the way and their have been highs and lows of equal proportions along the way. I have had my share of first kisses and broken hearts. I have danced all night under the starry skies of the local dock bars. I am surrounded by friends and two incredible kids. I have read great books and trashy ones. We have a world with everything from Beethoven to the Rolling Stones and back again. While all of this will undoubtedly still exist if we keep going down the road we are going the kids will not appreciate it as much as I did. It is hard to notice the arrangement and tone of the many hues in a multicolored sunset when you are taxed to the breaking point to finance spiraling debts not of your own making. When the opportunities to build your life as you want it are gone because of an array of regulations and social claims John Coltrane and Miles just do not sound as sweetly complex.

It’s not just the current bunch in office that is to blame, although God knows they are not helping. It’s decades of poor partisan politics and above all it is our fault, each and every damn one of us. We cannot enjoy nor preserve the fruits of liberty from a position of apathy.

It is time to ask ourselves a question. What kind of world do I want and what am I willing to do to make that a reality for myself, my kids and the future?

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