Once Upon a Time in America

Absent a warp drive, a wormhole, or some other science fiction escape to an uninhabited Earth-like planet, it's impossible to recreate the conditions which allowed the creation of these United States. It can't be done; there aren't any New Worlds left to discover. Our maps are all filled in.

If the Old World comes here, where does the New World have left to go?

When the Puritans were persecuted in England, they risked everything to come to America. When young Germans faced the Prussian army's grip, they gave up their ancient towns to come here. When Jews faced the Czar's pogroms, they gave up their bucolic steppes for the slums of New York. Rather than accept stagnant lives in their own countries, Latin Americans risked uncertain lives in America. Rather than accept far milder impositions than our own, America's Founding Fathers risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor just to sign their names on parchment.

Anyone with nothing to lose and everything to gain -- and bearing wits and character enough to risk it all -- came here. They ventured here. To America.

Whatever liberty we have right here, right now, in America ... well, for all practical purposes, that's all that's left anywhere. If France had our freedoms, there would be no French here. If China had it, there would be no Chinese here. If it existed in Latin America, there would be no Spanish spoken here. And so it goes.

And so if we, here in America, throw it all away in a fit of panic or pique, then what we once called "America" will become as false as a fairy tale.

In a future where cap-and-trade has made the comforts we take for granted something only the rich or privileged enjoy ...

where public debt has starved private investment ...

where confiscatory taxation has choked off risk-taking and entrepreneurship ...

where the dole has reduced all of us to beggars ...

where liberty is a dim memory or half-forgotten dream ...  in that future, there is nowhere to run.

No New Worlds for making fresh new starts.

Someday, our children might comfort their own with incredible stories that no one will believe, even though they are true.

Those stories will begin with: "Once upon a time there was a land called America."

(Author's note: The theme and closing line of this piece were taken from a speech given by Preston M. Green to the Association of Steel Distributors more than 25 years ago. Both have aged tragically well.)