Monday, July 4, 2016 (“No Surrender” by Bruce Springsteen)

Well, another 4th of July is upon us. There’s something in the air, at least in my life and I want to scribble something down about it before I forget it or it takes on another shape.

For a long time, I wasn’t very patriotic. I felt there was so much good out there, why should you be wrapped up in the US? I guess I felt that Europe was more exotic and more interesting that anywhere in the US. Hell, I lived there for a few years. I really liked it. I will say this much – the food and the drink it better. Americans can just do knock offs and do it well. But you’re paying $100 a pop, when the meals over there are cheaper by far at the same quality. Anyway, the buildings are amazing. Even the smallest church is amazing. Some buildings are nearly 1000 years old. To an American, that’s fucking incredible. Our oldest buildings in Philadelphia (home to me) are from the mid- to late-1600s. The novelty of the languages and the culture is amazing. Even mid-sized towns have little trams or trains to whisk you away to just the other side of town. To a 20-something, that’s perfect for the very long night out on the bar crawl.

Anyway, I feel myself getting older. That’s not really kicking in bodily. That’s fortunate for me. I don’t feel much older physically but I do mentally. That means that my values have changed a bit. The center of my attention is no longer just me. It used to be. That’s not to say that I had no concern for anyone else. I was the most important to myself and I focused myself on achieving my ends. That usually meant trying to drink something good and a lot of it, eat something good, looking at and talking to women, learning languages and looking at historical stuff. Those were my ends.

Now that I’ve been back in the States for a few years and I’ve also aged a few years, I’ve noticed a change in values. I’m still ever a Francophile. However, I have realized that America is a great place. This really is an experiment in allowing people political, economic and personal freedom. Look at what has happened. It’s the largest economy in the world. It’s an amazing place. But I feel that a lot of so-called “left leaning people” haven’t gone through the type of transformation that I have. I’ll talk a little bit about what type of transformation that is.

I studied economics for a few years. You get to learn about what the government does when it intervenes in the market. It usually, almost always, makes things worse for everyone. The ones who benefit are either the ones running the government in any of the branches or they are the ones paying for those people to get there. Also, the government doesn’t know what it’s doing. And when it does something, it doesn’t do it well. That is, the information decisions are based on is bad, the decisions aren’t made in the best interest of the majority of the people (just a few special interests), and the execution of the plan is poor. So, whenever I hear people trying to get the government to achieve their goals, I either know these people have no idea what they are talking about, they do know what they’re talking about and that is conspiring against the public, or they have no idea that this is going to be done badly or way over-budget.

Also, personally. It’s just not enough for me to look after myself. I’ve been formed by my parents, school and my own adventures. I feel that now, at the age of 34, I’m pretty much fully formed. I’ll change if I’ve been wrong in my attitudes or if what I think I know ends up being wrong. But I feel like my formation is good. I am kind to most people. I don’t suffer fools gladly. I am open-minded but not gapingly so. I have goals but not immovable plans set in concrete.

I want children so that I can help build the future. The foundation of this country is strong. I don’t know where I’ll end up. But I do know that there are some real rat holes in the world where nothing good comes from. This place isn’t one of those places. This place does produce some undesirable people, actions and things. But the good far outweighs the bad. We just shouldn’t feel overwhelmed when we hear about these things more than we used to because the news’s megaphone is so much stronger than it used to be.

This country, as well as a few other ones, is a very good one. We can try to make things better but I doubt very much that that has much to do with the government. It just needs to fulfill its role: find the criminals, put them on trial, put them in jail and defend the country from invaders. The rest all comes from the people. I would like to be a part of that. It took a while to appreciate that but I got there in the end.

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