Thankful? Sometimes.

November 23, 2011   |  

As we roll into the very American holiday of Thanksgiving – imagine that, a whole holiday devoted to giving thanks – then spending till you drop – thought it might be a good time to reflect.

I’m sure that the ones who started the tradition never thought about adding black Friday back then, can you imagine?

“Forsooth Jebediah, let us frequent yonder shoppes the day after Thanks Giving and thusly reward the merchants well that they also be merry into the holiday season before us”

But I digress. I wanted to, as many wont to do, at this time of year, to look at where things are at and see if I’m still well and truly thankful that I moved to America. I was thinking to myself, just the other day, did I make a mistake? Did I move to America under false hopes that things were really going to be better here? Even though in my day job as a futurist, I suppose, could I have never predicted that America was going the way of Canada so rapidly?

I will digress for a minute. Around 1995, I visited Silicon Valley on a business trip. The only reason that I was able to go is that my boss had already booked a vacation those days and that I was nominated to take his place. So I went. I’d never been here but was an avid consumer of all things “tech” and “new” – being stuck in Canada and a techie, I was impressed by the geekiness of this place “Wow – they actually have female engineers over there!” I told my friends back in Toronto when I’d returned. I remember very distinctly standing in Fry’s Electronics with other techies and sysadmins(those were the ones with the ZZ Top beards and the “I Heart Linux T-Shirts), ogling the latest new motherboards. That when I thought to myself “These are my people. I want to live among my people”

But it wasn’t just the technology and the innovation which drew me here – I’d been a long time “fan” of America, what with its freer market, less government, less taxes , more freedom, supposedly. Yes, folks, I even read things like David Stockman’s The Triumph Of Politics from my Canadian perch, way back in 1985. I watched movies like Wall Street and idolized Gordon Gecko (that idiot Bud should have picked some other company other than Blue Star to buy up), I read Wired and Reason Magazine, and thought, wow, what a cool place.

Fast forward to today. Now we have a huge debt, an administration which can’t stop spending, 7 or 8 wars (or more – who knows how many “secret” wars we may be waging)  going on all over the world, socialized medicine on its way, and a slate of contenders to Obama who don’t look like that they will be changing things anytime soon.

Dammit I thought, this country is getting to be WORSE than Canada – at least Canada did have any warrior ambitions – it had enough trouble maintaining its huge government without all that. Should I have just stayed in Canada? I mean, some of my buddies in Canada are now, supposedly, doing even better than I am. Was it a mistake?

I keep going over and over this in my mind, and it all comes back to my concept of Prozac Nation. You see America has mostly, up till now, rewarded the individual who creates, who envisions, who builds. Not only can that person succeed incredibly, they can fail miserably. America LETS you do either. Not only does it not try to stop us from doing that, by attempting to retard our progress by excessive taxation and regulation, it encourages us to dream BIG. Really BIG.

At least, mostly. So far. But we’ve lost our way. We are going down the path of mediocrity.  We are kneecapping the achievers, and that never goes well.

Ayn Rand was right – she was prescient. So here is my conclusion:

I’m still thankful that I live here. I’m still way better off right now than if I’d stayed in Canada. I’m doing the work I love to do and at a decent salary. I’m surrounded by all of the innovation and coolness that I wanted to be surrounded by.

But we are in serious trouble. All of this could be gone if we keep going down this path. And it all comes down to what happens in 2012. The Mayans may have just run out of space on the calendar, or they may have really figured out that something serious was going to happen that year. Something very serious will happen to America if we don’t change course.

The key is not, however, having the “right” person in office. The key is having the right mindset as Americans. We need to understand that what the founders outlined way back when still works, still is powerful, and, if we go back to it, will propel us back into the top spot, across the board. It’s ours to lose. It’s down to us. NO POLITICIAN, however messianic in stature (and you know who I’m talking about), will save us. We can only save ourselves.

Unless of course the Mayans were right.

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