Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pondering the Imponderable -OR- Let's Make A Deal

Back a few weeks, while making with the Columbus Day observances and festivities, as usual, I decided to pick it up, turn it over, look under, over and beyond the obvious, time-honored myths. Leaving the arguments over "what ifs" for those who get off on such pursuits, I tend to work backward and forward with the "what is" angles. I try to leave re-writing the past to those who get off on that as worthwhile. It all sort of blurs together anyway, hurtling across the eras and eons. It's never as simple as because of this; this. Or is it? At various points on the timeline, potential and portent have inexplicably meshed to create a better world.

In 1626, or so the legend goes, Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan from the Indians for $24 worth of beads and trinkets. This is widely regarded as the both the bestest deal and biggest swindle ever. The $24 figure has stood the test of time, without regard to the costs racked up in the "out years". It's a colorful part of our history and heritage that you can explore further at leisure starting with The Straight Dope

The Louisiana Purchase, Red River Valley, Oregon Country, Seward's Folly, et al, represent via purchase, treaty or hostile takeover, the land mass we understand to be the United States of America. Accepted, settled, decided history that is only disputed by random cranks and the occasional thesis.

Upon these lands and holdings, a future was leveraged to benefit the citizenry who worked, financed through their taxes, fought and died to secure their place. Codified into the fabric of society; smoothed, ironed, trimmed and hemmed. Held out to the world as proof that a free society, of, by and for the people is a workable model.

We racked up a larder full of progress while attenuating personal gain as a prime motiviation. What was good for all the people was also good for the business of business. We built good stuff, took pride in work and placed value on even the most menial of labor.

Long about 1980 the estate sales began. At first it was just the excess inventories and obsolete bric-a-brac. Without consent, but without objection, OUR property was
donated for re-sale. That worked out so well, that we failed to notice when national treasures starting receiving serious offers. Having redefined "ownership" to mean simply held by the government rather than held in-trust, Crazy Ronnie started cutting crazy deals. WE lost our lease. Everything must go!

While most people were only slightly aware of what was being lost, many people were very alarmed. The tried to point out the fire-sale on progress, but the mergers, acquisitions and liquidations had become POLICY. The takings were immense. The short-term cash-flow dizzying. We were flush. So flush that we failed to realize that it was the nest egg being liquidated for peanuts until our assets were gone and all that remained were the liabilities.

If, as his acolytes preach, RWR was a man of brilliance, then he knew the outcome his policy changes would mandate. The man who ascended to deity status on the promise of getting rid of fat and waste instead got rid of everything but in the sure knowledge that once removed, the fat and waste would be obvious. Laid bare and ugly, then people would see it clearly. They would rise up and in Ronnie's name, do that which he was unwilling, unable and prevented from doing.

I think we're almost there. We're not out of beads and trinkets, but we're hopelessly short of national treasures.

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