Friday, July 4, 2008

Really, its not that bad

After arguing with high school teachers who I could generally count on to be no more intelligent or educated that I, going to college was quite a change. In my first semester I took a course with Victor Davis Hanson, unfortunately one of the last he taught at Fresno State before leaving. The man is a machine, I flat out gave up arguing with him because I was so out classed in both education and intelligence.

Anyways, he has an interesting world view, I thought I should pass on this quote from his article in the national review that came out today:

"We are not in 1932 when unemployment was still over 20 percent of the work force, and industrial production was less than half of what it had been just three years earlier, or July, 1942, when tens of thousands of American were dying in convoys and B-17s, and on islands of the Pacific in an existential war against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Thank God it is not mid-summer 1950, when Seoul was overrun and arriving American troops were overwhelmed by Communist forces as they rushed in to save a crumbling South Korea. We are not in 1968 when the country was torn apart by the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic convention in Chicago. And we are not even in the waning days of 1979, a year in which the American embassy was seized in Tehran and hostages taken, the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, thousands were still being murdered in Cambodia, Communism was on the march in Central America, and our president was blaming our near 6-percent unemployment, 8-percent inflation, 15-percent interest rates, and weakening international profile on our own collective “malaise.”

We live in the most prosperous and most free years of a wonderful republic, and can easily rectify our present crises that are largely of our own making and a result of the stupefying effects of our unprecedented wealth and leisure. Instead of endless recriminations and self-pity — of anger that our past was merely good rather than perfect as we now demand — we need to give thanks this Fourth of July to our ancestors who created our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and suffered miseries beyond our comprehension as they bequeathed to us most of the present wealth, leisure, and freedom we take for granted."

I am not sure I necessarily agree with him about us being the most free country in history. In a great many ways we really are not terribly free by international standards. For example if you are a young person you don't hit the legal drinking age, or age of consent until significantly later than in most of Europe or for that matter most of the world. Clearly if they can allow such freedoms without serious problems (teenage pregnancy rates, and deaths related to drinking are typically higher in America than Europe despite our authoritarian legal system) we should too. Our failed war on drugs has left us with the highest percentage of population in prison of any time in our history, or for that matter than any country trustworthy enough to keep good statistics. I cannot buy fireworks today in the state of New York even though I am totally competent and would not cause any damage to life or property if I had them. The list goes on, and on, the government loves controlling our private lives.

I do agree though that the problems we face today are minor compared to those faced during much of our history.

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