Monday, November 7, 2005

Kind of a Drag

A confession: Politics is boring me and I fear my blog is suffering as a result.

I never thought I’d say it, but it’s true. Everything political has become so dreadfully dull that I’m lulled into a sort of brain dead, stem function only state every time I try to muster up some interest in what is going on. I wish I could say I feel guilty about this, but in all honesty I don’t.

My only regret, in fact, is that it has been terribly hard to come up with any interesting blog items this past month. I don’t mean to suggest that politics is all I’ve got to talk about, but the truth is that it’s an easy means of running a narrative for a blog, while interspersing bits and pieces of slice of life stuff to keep it all interesting for both of us…..or all three of us, I’m never really quite sure how many folks read this space.

I realize that the new gig has me pretty distracted too, but distraction has never been a problem for me. I thrive on risk and pressure. All of my life I’ve had to train myself not to intentionally build up “to do’s” until they result in near death, crash into the wall sorts of experiences, that provide a rush, with the concomitant satisfaction of actually defying the odds and getting everything not only done well, but done better than others. So it’s not the job.

Nope the real problem for me is that we’ve arrived at a time in our culture that is threatening to be a repeat of the 70’s; a decade of fear and loathing when America, aided by liberal hand wringing, became unsure of itself. Look at any newspaper today and you’ll see the signs. We’ve got Bird Flu! We’re losing a war (except we’re really winning)! The president lied! Big corporations are killing us! Disasters are increasing!
Global Warming is here (in the 70’s it was the coming of the second Ice Age)! We’re running out of oil!

The litany is as endless as it is tiring and inaccurate. The same thing was true in the 70’s. Yes we were experiencing a cultural upheaval, but the restructuring that began in the 70’s led to over 20 years of uninterrupted prosperity and job growth such as the world has rarely seen. Entrepreneurs built new technologies that provided the catalysts for today’s information and communications revolution. Financial engineering worked its magic to stabilize the American economy and make capital cheap and accessible to anyone with a good idea. Business schools educated and graduated a generation of executives who focused on maximizing shareholder wealth and created tens of millions of new jobs in this country alone.

Yet we were quite grumpy in the 70’s, and the popular culture, what we today refer to as the conventional wisdom, told us that it was over for America. The Kinks wrote about Captain America (“catch me now I’m falling”) and the Japanese were the specter on the horizon that would usurp American economic dominance and make us all hourly lackeys doing calisthenics in uniforms before work. Nuclear plants were going to kill whoever survived World War III.

Something funny happened on the way to fall though. It simply never happened. American brilliance, freedom, and creativity won the day instead and those who bet on us did pretty well for themselves. In fact, the Japanese after a moment of glory entered a malaise that they have yet to recover from. The only exploding nukes were in the former Soviet Union, and the great Ray Davies is known more for his song writing skills than his political prognostication.

So why are we letting it happen again? Why does anyone really believe that millions are going to die of bird flu this winter? Why are we so afraid of global warming, a theory based on unproven and deeply flawed models, that many want us to sacrifice our economic well being to head off the threat? Does anybody seriously believe that the Chinese are going to push us off the world stage anymore than the Japanese did 20 years ago? Have we not learned first through the example of Russian communism, and then through Japanese Corporate/Governmentalism that centrally planned economic models, especially when combined with police state authoritarianism, simply do not work?

The famous words of some famous guy are that “those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it” and this is what this decade is all about. It’s such a crushing disappointment to me. When we marked the passage into the new century it seemed like a time of such great promise. Sure, we had a tech bubble in the market, but the correction came quick and our economy rebounded with its typical resilience. I felt sure that the enthusiasm that we felt for the new age would produce new technologies, new art and be springboard to a great time in our lives.

Sadly, we seem to be a bit delayed. Make no mistake, our market is working it’s magic, and our brains are creating new advances which we all will benefit from, but like the 70’s everything is a bit below the cultural radar right now. It’s a funny country that we live in. America has always rewarded the visionary and the risk taker, and we are a uniquely positive people. Yet there are those among us who from time to time gain control of our national psyche and bring us down for a while. They’ve never won yet, and without fail they have always been wrong, but man, while they’ve got the microphone these people are just such a drag.

So, I don’t exactly know what the point of this post is other than I felt like I needed to vent and get this off my chest. I’m not sure where I’m going from here with the Pursuit, but I’m looking forward to getting back on track after a month of postings that I am not particularly proud of. Hope you enjoy the ride.

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