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Works and Days

Are You ‘Them!’?

February 5th, 2012 - 8:52 am

The More Noble Debtor

I try to pay my credit cards off each month; pay the mortgage regardless of the fluctuating value of my house; and am paying off each month my daughter’s student loans, the last of three in college. I understand that others are far worse off and so don’t mind government helping them. But in the last three years, somehow we have become a passive-voice society. The Obama administration believes that all sorts of sinister people tricked the unknowing into running up credit card debt, taking out student loans, and buying too expensive a house—and that we the taxpayers are uncaring unless we are willing to borrow more trillions to help relieve these debts.

In the last 36 months I have heard about all sorts of enemies and victims, but not a word from the president that he respects those who pay off mortgages even when equity falls, who do not charge things they cannot afford, and who try to pay their own children’s tuition without state grants and scholarships.

Why Are We Culpable?

I see no reason to apologize or bow abroad. I am all too aware that we helped save Muslims in Kosovo, Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Somalia and send them billions in aid to the West Bank, Egypt, and Jordan. I have no guilt about the Europeans. We have paid trillions in dollars for their defense, after saving them from Germany twice, and are far less protectionist in our trade policies than are they. Compared to the caste system in India, racialism in China and Japan, tribal chauvinism in the Arab World, and class distinctions in Europe, I find the U.S. pretty open and fair, meritocratic if you will.

Why, then, would I wish to kowtow to Saudi or Japanese royals, or to apologize in Turkey for past sins?

Post-American What?

Finally, I don’t buy into the president’s trendy “post-American world” fantasies. We are growing; Europe, Japan, China, and Russia are aging and shrinking. Is there a Facebook sprouting in Istanbul? Does Mumbai give us Wal-Mart? Does the world flock to Shanghai to learn brain surgery?

I am not worried that China’s one rusty carrier will match the power of about one-third of our eleven carrier groups. Fat flabby Americans still produce per capita three times as many goods and services as do three Chinese.

I’ve seen European and Arab universities; believe me they are no Caltech or Stanford. I’ve been in three hospitals abroad; the one in tiny Selma is to them as heaven is to hell. In most places abroad, I would not drink the water. I like American doctors; they don’t smoke as they treat you and don’t roll you into Dante’s Inferno on a gurney to rot. I don’t think they pulled out my tonsils years ago only to make a buck. My local Doc does not wish to lop off my leg.

Our gas and oil reserves grow; China’s and Japan’s shrink. If I move to China, as a Scandinavian-looking white guy I will never be accepted as fully Chinese; if a Chinese moves here, he’s liable to run a company. Barack Obama and most of us would never make it as a president or prime minister in Japan or South Korea, or for that matter France.

Mr. President, sermonize to others abroad, not to us at home, about judging people on the basis of “how they look.” In India or Brazil, Obama, as most of us, would be relegated to a caste. Yes, I am worried at the present desire to run up trillions of dollars in debt and redistribute income while ignoring the sources of traditional American material wealth. Yet I still see no reason to lead from behind. I accept no post-American anything—and am quite tired after three years of being lectured that I am supposed to.

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