[Editor’s Note: Today we break from our customary observations on money and markets. Monday’s Independence Day, after all, and while we’re still hard at work, we hope you have already commenced your holiday weekend. But before you hang out the flag or light up the grill…we’ll leave you with some reflections on this great nation we call home. Enjoy!]
“Myths and legends die hard in America.” – Hunter S. Thompson
America’s Endearing Government
These days the ideas that roused America’s War of Independence are, alas, just ideas. Limited government and individual liberty were long ago squandered for big government and collectivism. Gone are the days when you could earn a living without the IRS making a federal case out of it. So, too, gone are the days when your kids could sell a glass of lemonade to your neighbors without some city busybody shutting them down for not having an approved permit.
Over the last 100 years Washington has become a sort of money sucking vortex. At the Capitol Building sits a cadre of legislatures and an army of staffers working up new laws to take your money. New rules, proposed rules, and notices are published daily in the Federal Register. A quick read of the daily publication will enlighten and alarm you to the vast array of agencies, departments, and commissions and their vast array of daily nonsense.
“That government is best which governs least,” began Henry David Thoreau in the essay Civil Disobedience. By that standard the Federal Register is an impressive indictment of the state of our current government…they govern everything.
Still, there is something endearing about present day American government. While the Democrats are all idiots and the Republicans are all morons, we take the scoundrels in stride with a smirk and a chuckle. Congressman Barney Frank, for instance…has there ever been a more dedicated jackass?
He alone is testament to what Alexis de Tocqueville first alluded to as American exceptionalism.
But we’re not here to bemoan America’s devolution into absurdity. For while the government is broke and the leaders are imposters, and much of the populace has been soften down to a warm bowl of mashed potatoes, America today is still a land of opportunity where lunatics thrive and eccentrics prosper. Here at the Economic Prism we wouldn’t have it any other way…
A Place of Extraordinary Rewards
What an amazing place this is… Madcaps like Steve Jobs and Larry Page are still free to excel and innovate like Howard Hughes, Henry Ford, and other American oddballs of yester yore. Starting with just an idea and an inspiration they, somehow, have been able to deliver the future to the present over and over again. We can’t think of another country where dorks, dweebs, and weirdoes create something from nothing with such regularity.
But it’s not just the whiz kids that are able to pull off the impossible in America. Those of average intelligence and above average guts are able to tilt the world in their favor too…
In the early 1970s Joe Karbo was a bankrupt Los Angeles car salesman with a family of 10 to feed. In his moment of desperation he wrote the print ad headline “Most People Are Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Any Money.” The ad went on to sell Joe’s self-published book The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches – written as an afterthought – via mail order. By the end of the decade he’d sold nearly 3-million copies at $10 a pop.
For the rest of us – the ordinary, gutless, of average intelligence – those of us too busy earning a living, America still offers a place of extraordinary rewards. In fact, we can’t think of a more agreeable place…
When we turn on the faucet fresh water flows out every time. We take hot showers every day. There’s no sewage flowing down the streets as far as we can tell. And the trash man shows up to collect our garbage every Tuesday rain-or-shine.
Within a short walk of our house are four different grocers. The shelves are always full. The produce is always fresh. And the cost for most items is exceptionally reasonable. This week we picked up fresh ears of corn at 3 for $0.99…practically free. What’s more, there are more flavors of chewing gum at the checkout counter than we could ever fathom.
Has there ever been, in human history, such a lethargic populace that’s had it so good?
Independence Day Celebration
So with everything so pleasantly blissful and delightful what do we care if the ideas that prompted America’s Independence have become nothing more than myths and legends?
In short, we don’t. And even if we did what good could we really do? It doesn’t really matter what we think. America’s slouch toward mediocrity was destined to happen. Who are we to stand in the way?
So even as the quacks in government, and all the well intentioned tomfoolery in Washington fleeces us for our own good, we smile and are determined to enjoy it. We aim to celebrate the myths and legends of America with gusto and we aim to have the time of our lives.
We’ll head down to the Long Beach Harbor with our wife and four year old son…and a million of our closest friends. There we’ll munch on a funnel cake, or perhaps an ice-cream cone.
We’ll bob our head to the soulful sounds of a street-corner musician. And when the sun sets and stars twinkle, we’ll marvel at the brilliance of the firework show glittering in the sky over the vast Pacific Ocean.
We’ll point. We’ll hoot. We’ll holler. We’ll howl.
And we’ll celebrate the Independence of These United States.
Enjoy your holiday!
for Economic Prism