Monday, December 13, 2010

Random Observations on a Monday

I had a chance to visit downtown this past Friday evening. I hadn’t been there in a while, preferring instead to conserve finances. I found that I’m not alone in that desire.

Downtown was a literal ghost town compared to three years ago.

Back then, the sidewalks were full of mostly youngsters sporting the latest in fashion, real or imagined. Music blared from every other door, most of it from live bands. Wide-eyed tourists, eager for a taste of the real nightlife asked for recommendations, where are the best bands/drinks/food. The local constabulary was in constant view lest the human cauldron overheat and begin to spill over into the night. Despite signs prohibiting cruising, it was the place to cruise, with ridiculously expensive vehicles pawing the pavement at speeds they were never designed for. All of us out for a good time, to see and be seen.

Not this weekend.

Having lived here for over twenty years, I’ve learned this city’s rhythm. Once, there was literally no difference in traffic: it was horrible all the time. You were as likely to encounter a traffic jam at 2:30 am as you were at 2:30 pm. Now, even on a Friday night, the roads are nearly empty. As soon as rush hour concludes, traffic subsides dramatically. The city becomes yours.

Which is fine, if you’re an introvert.

America’s party is over.

Was it that long ago that we’d find an excuse to go out on a Thursday evening? In these parts, you’d hear the rumblings of motorcycles as they headed to their favorite watering hole for bike night, the preamble to a weekends’ revelry, to warm up the old liver.

If there’s one thing that the Obama Depression has done, it’s stopped our partying.

I also had the opportunity to talk to a friend of mine who owns a bar last week. She was near tears wondering if the bar she recently bought could make it through these times. Although I tried to give her some encouragement, I’m not sure I succeeded. Times are tough all over.

Many of my friends have noticed the same thing. They all mention the same haunting phrase, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Indeed, this is the longest and worse economic downturn that many who are younger than I am have ever witnessed. I remember other recessions, but because I worked in manufacturing, I always had a job. The demand for the hardware of modern life wasn’t as prone to the natural fluctuations of a capitalistic economy. People still needed cars, and TV’s, and computers, and dishwashers, and the odds of everyone running out of money at once were remote.

However, this is a different time. While I can’t speak for the rest of the country, it appears for all the world as though nearly everyone down here is out of money. One can easily picture an old western with tumbleweeds blowing down a deserted street.

This doesn’t need to happen.

There are reasons for everything. Not to get too philosophical, but there are economic laws and principles that just can’t be ignored. When we do (and by “we,” I mean our national leaders), we do it at our peril. Moreover, when we ignore those laws and principles, we create unnecessary misery and suffering. We’ve ignored them by proxy, by electing leaders who have no understanding of our economic system.

In a strange turn of the tale, we’ve been taken advantage of by our own trusting nature. We’ve trusted our leaders to have the same sort of values and principles that we hold in our hearts. We’ve assumed that those we’ve sent to Washington to act in our place wanted the same things that we wanted for our families.

We’ve been fooled.

As I’ve pointed out previously, we have in place today a ruling elite whose value system is not the same as ours. We value honesty, integrity, truthfulness, empathy, straightforwardness, and an ability to understand reality and deal with it in a mature way.

They, obviously, don’t.

I’m somewhat optimistic that things began to change for the better in last month’s midterm elections. American’s aren’t used to imposed and structured decline. How we managed to elect to the highest office a guy who thinks America’s best days are behind her and that she should retire while still in her prime is a mystery for the ages.

Why waste a perfectly good country?

We still have in place the framework for greatness. We still have the infrastructure with which to elevate ourselves and the world, to reduce poverty and disease, to find new medical treatments and cures, to add to the quality and quantity of our short time here on God’s Earth. All that is missing is leaders who want that for everyone, who will abandon their insane lust for power that infests the halls of our Capitol.

We need to recapture the essence of our country and restore the soul of America.

I have every confidence that we will.

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