One of the joys of growing old is that you’ve seen this garbage before. Let me illustrate.
Newsweek featured the back of the Statue of Liberty on its May 12 cover. Inside it suggested in various ways that America is fading. It just won’t be so important in the world in the future.
If I was twenty I might take the article seriously. If forty, I would add a dash of salt. These days I simply chuckle. Because this story nearly writes itself every fifteen to twenty years.
In such stories America is always slipping from its pedastal. It’s grown too fat and happy. Or it’s grown unpopular and various people around the world hate us. Or our dollar is so weak foreigners will buy and sell all our assets. Or some other power is eating our lunch.
I cannot tell you how many times I have read such garbage. And every time another Chicken Little writes it, he or she insists that this time things are different. Sure they are.
In connection with this, it was Newsweek’s competitor, Time, that questioned whether capitalism could survive against Socialism and Communism. That was 1975. Some survival.
Another story that makes the circuit is what is going on with Venezuela and Hugo Chavez. He’s building a workers’ paradise. We may not like him, but the People do.
Various celebrities jet into Caracas and kiss his hem and tell us we are blind. Meanwhile, Hugo snatches up private companies and hands them to government. And tramples people’s rights.
In a year or ten all will collapse. So when today’s bobbing heads tell us this time things are different, I chuckle. I would remind them that Castro created a paradise in the 50’s, but they won’t understand. I would tell them about the USSR, but they don’t want to hear.
Read about the useful idiots who toured the USSR in the 1930’s and proclaimed that heaven had arrived. And that America was going to hell. Some heaven. Some hell.
Shortages come and go. I chuckle when they arrive, like the circus coming to town. And I chuckle when they depart, manure plopping from the elefunks.
This country and world have been scheduled to run out of sooooo many things over the years. Thirty years ago the greens were insisting we wouldn’t have enough trees left to make a box of toothpicks. They also tossed in copper, zinc, paper, air waves, fresh air, oil - always oil - and calamine lotion.
In the early 1900’s the scare mongers had people pounding their pillows worrying about running out of trees. True. They also fretted about running out of oil. Yes, back then.
Today, of course, we are on schedule to run out of water. We’ll be back to sharing washtubs on Saturday nights. If you are going to lay awake over this stuff I hope it is because your laughs keep you from nodding off.
Another crisis that makes the big circuit is that America is hated in the world. Our policies have turned us into a leper.
If you dig through American newspapers from 1900 on, you will come across this anxiety every ten to fifteen years. America has had a “kick me” sign on its backside since forever.
So if you grow long in the tooth you can chuckle over the latest round of this. You can chuckle over young people wringing their hands.
You might recall that our Vice-President arrived in South America in time for flying eggs and chants of “Yanqui go home.”That was in the 1960s. His name was Nixon. He did go home and look what problems he caused.
Will Rogers said “Things ain’t what they used to be. But then again, they never were.” I wonder if the opposite isn’t also true. Things ARE what they used to be. And chances are, they always will be.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.