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Only in America

Only in America!  That used to have a positive ring, and I am sure that for some, it still does.  I have always been impressed by such people as Andy Grove, a Hungarian Jew who escaped from Hungary during the 1957 anti-Communist revolt.  He came to the US and and was a co-founder of Intel Corp.  If you are reading this on a computer, you are using parts that were invented by Intel – maybe by Andy himself.  Could he have done this in any other country in the world?

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of “Only in America” stories.  My dad, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, came over with nothing and became a success in the United States.  But, we  live in the present, not the past.  How is that “Only in America” deal working for  us now?

My wife and I are back from a short vacation, to Ft. Lauderdale,  Florida.  While there, we acted like typical tourists.  Come to think of it, it didn’t take any acting.   On one of the days in particular we took a water taxi and saw rows upon rows, miles followed by miles of impressive mansions along the water.  The mansions were 10 million dollars or more and were overshadowed by the owners boats which were typically 20 million or more.  After a few years the owner might get tired of his humble abode and decide to sell it.

The new buyer will make the purchase and often tear the mansion down.  The location was good – or, one presumes, he wouldn’t have bought it. But then he often didn’t like something else about it, so he would tear it down and build his own.  One buyer actually bought his neighbor’s 20 million dollar house and had it torn down to make a play area for his two Golden Retrievers.  Well, dogs gotta play!

I guess that you are stuck doing things like that if you can’t live in my community – where the neighbors actually know each other, like each other, and even throw parties for each other.  I wondered, however, about fairness when one realizes that a number of the residents of these mansions were the CEOs of companies that had gone into bankruptcy.  So, now, let me get this straight.  They ran companies.  By poor decisions put lots of people out of work, and then took their golden parachutes and are living the life of Croesus.  Where is the fairness in this?

I have heard people (usually WEALTHY people or their low-information enablers) say that the poor require a lot more public services and therefore any kind of graduated taxes is an unfair burden on the rich.  I probably could accept the argument that the poor probably require more services from the fire department as well as the police.  The wealthy, however require much more from the federal government.  They require a court system that will enforce contracts, they require a legislative system that will make enforceable and constitutionally acceptable laws, they require a executive system that will enforce those laws.  Finally, they require a Defense Department that will help to preserve their way of life – and, by the way, they require the poor to provide the canon fodder for that.  These things cost money.  Lots and lots of money.  Right now, judging from the obscene display of wealth that I saw in Ft. Lauderdale, I would guess that maybe the wealthy could pay a little more for their cause instead of living on the backs of the poor.

I have heard the phrase that there are “no Atheists in foxholes”.  I have also heard a lot of former soldiers who are Atheists dispute that.  Let me suggest that you will find very few sons of millionaires in foxholes.

On our little taxi tour, there were a bunch of German tourists.  At one point I heard them use the phrase, “Nur in Amerika”.  Surely they meant that admiringly, right? right???


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