July 4, 2010 at 5:56 pm #168904Zach WatsonParticipant
What are your thoughts and feelings about America and the principles unto which our Founding Fathers created this nation?Myself, I’m very grateful for our founders and their principles that they put forth, those principle of the Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, are things that people the world over either cherish or desire. We can debate political issues all day long, but what we must remember is that at the end of the day each of us want peace both for ourselves and for those generations that lie ahead of us. This is a great nation, and the reason why this is so is not because of a military force that is one of the greatest in the history of the world, but because Americans strive to be their best selves and serve others to make this world a better place not just for the few but for as many as possible.July 5, 2010 at 5:57 pm #168923BoilerplaterParticipant
Wow. The silence is deafening. I guess Land8 peeps aren’t feeling too patriotic this 4th. As to the bit about Americans striving to make this world a better place, well, I just don’t see it where I live. I see a lot of people trying to trip each other up and make life worse for those they see as their competitors and those they can exploit. Of course I live in Las Vegas, where people put on their poker faces for daily life, so that explains a few things.July 5, 2010 at 7:26 pm #168922
It takes all the energy I can muster to put my head down and go to work, literally and figuratively these past few weeks.
It’s Summer, the economy is worse than ever, I’m underemployed, the middle class is in an uproar, the ocean is dying and all I want to do is play in the mountains.July 5, 2010 at 7:54 pm #168921
I went to two parades yesterday (Barnstable and Hyannis) and they were both hugely attended with lots of people having a really good time despite the fact that it was really hot out. They seemed much more attended than last year in both cases (my daughter is in a marching band).
No one seemed negative, not even when the Republican float cruised by in Hyannis. Both parades had a lot of participants as well. I’m not a big parade guy, but it was uplifting being out there with parents and kids all having a good time.
I’d say that Zach’s idea that American’s strive to serve others was strongly evident with all of the people that made the parades possible, decorating floats and themselves, bringing in their classic cars, bands performing on floats and marching , throwing candy to kids, all the different peformers in the heat. I’d say that spirit was there and uplifting. It reminded me of when I was a kid watching parades. It did not even seem very commercial or political, just a simple fun couple of parades.July 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm #168920
I work the 4th concert at the US Capitol every year. Despite the high heat, 30K people walked through the gates, with an untold how many more were on the Mall proper. People from all walks of life joined together to celebrate the nation’s independence. Especially heartening were the immigrant families. Thousands showed up with red, white, and blue attire, some with flags, and members of the military in full dress (in the 98 degree heat, too).
We as a nation have strayed far from the founding fathers vision. Just because you can’t read the real constitution any more because of the faded ink, doesn’t mean we don’t know what it says. Most of the founders were enterprising farmers, stewards of the land. A direct relation to the LA profession where work, research and ingenuity (read Washington and Jefferson) led to advancements in efficiency, crops, and labor savings, all while being mindful of the land that supported them. The original organic farmers! Everyone was far more independent and free back then. I’ve been to many of the estates, and it always impresses me how much these guys actually did. There are no modern day equivalents, not even close. I feel very lucky to live where I do so I can see all of this historical stuff just a few miles down the road.
One thing to remember, the American Revolution did not start out to break from the rule of the King, it was about convincing him to PRESERVE our self governance rights he had previously granted and was now trying to take away. The King tried to tighten his grip on the colonies further when colonists objections were relayed, and after the tightening is when the revolution talk started. The founders revolted over far less daily intrusion by a government than we deal with today. For instance, on April 15th, think about how much of your income goes to tithe the NEW royals in the big white palaces on both ends of Pennsyvania Avenue, especially if you own a business.July 5, 2010 at 11:56 pm #168919
Everyone was far more independent and free back then. I’ve been to many of the estates, and it always impresses me how much these guys actually did. There are no modern day equivalents, not even close. I feel very lucky to live where I do so I can see all of this historical stuff just a few miles down the road.
Do you think this is because we are less ambitious, incapable, lazy, or unintelligent? Or do you think this has more to do with the limitations of our society and governmental regulations?July 6, 2010 at 1:07 am #168918
Right you are Jason. There are a lot of people feeling very threatened by the intrusions from those two places.
When people can’t choose to do what they want with the rewards of their efforts, they find it much more difficult to make the effort, take risks (like hiring people, or building things), and to donate to good causes.
Whether we choose to believe it or not, the founding fathers made a system that flourished because they understood human nature (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and harnessed it. Today, so many want to believe that people will make more effort for the common good than for their own good. It is warm and fuzzy, but simply untrue.
Americans are not and never were different than any other people in the world. It was our system that made us different. Now many want to change to the systems that they see in other parts of the world. That is arrogance at its worst because that is clearly based on thinking that we are a superior people rather than having a superior system.July 6, 2010 at 1:28 am #168917Zach WatsonParticipant
Andrew, while I completely agree with you that they understood ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’ they also knew that given the choice more people than not would choose the good. To many times I think that we discredit the human population as a whole because we have a few bad experiences. In these hard times, I have seen people continue to step up and serve others when they have the chance, both physically and monetarily. Also it is during the hard times that people tend to be more understanding of the hardships that others are dealing with. This does not mean that each of us don’t have the desire to pursue our own paths to success, because each of us have that desire to create a successful career in that of our choosing. I truly believe that we can have the best of both worlds where we can find person pride in our life pursuits while at the same time helps those around us achieve the same.
The pushing down of your neighbor does not lift you higher, but only pushes them below you.July 6, 2010 at 2:08 am #168916
Both. There are people with the capability and potential who just don’t (look at our inner cities-look at our schools), and business regulation (in many states) is so costly and so prohibitive, the endeavor is not worth the effort for the return. I do think much of it has to do with personal ambition as well. These guys read all the time, no TV remember, and learned several languages just to be able to read thought from around the world. Jeffersons library, now at the Library of Congress, had almost 6,500 books in languages ranging from Italian, to French, German, and even Arabic. Plus, he was an architect, plus, a farmer, plus, a business man (they had to sell their stuff), and he was a diplomat, and a politician. You have to want to be a success to be a success.
These guys also HAD to be diverse, because if they didn’t do it, it didn’t get done. If we don’t know (or don’t want to) do something, we can call somebody to come and do it for us. While these guys did have some help (sometimes not in the bese circumstances), they had to have the knowledge to make it all work. We have Universities and free libraries, they didn’t. Frankin created the first lending Library in Philadelphia, and Jefferson sold his personal library to the Library of Congress to replace the collection the British burned in the War of 1812. It is all about the collection and sharing of knowledge. Thats why I keep a huge library myself.
Of course, things were a bit simpler back then. They didn’t have all the knowlege we have today, and the advent of the industrial revolution and career specialization means we don’t have to be as diversely educated, we can specialize. So much has been learned and advanced in the past few hundred years, it is staggering.July 6, 2010 at 2:26 am #168915
I do have one disagreement with your last statement. Americans ARE different than any other peoples in the world. Back in the Revolutionary days (and before), this was a wilderness outpost, even in our largest cities. Most chose to be here, they emigrated for religious freedoms and pure opportunity that existed with a new land. It was the values from varied religious structured that gave them the discipline (despite popular belief, the writings of most of the founders proves they were NOT dieists) Through necessity, and reinforced by our system of government at the time, a work ethic was created that is with us to this day. We still work the most hours and have the highest productivity of any industrialized society on the planet. This comes from having to take care of ourselves, as nobody else was going to do it. That has changed quite a bit in 234 years, and we can clearly see the result. Early in the previous century and out of a sense of charity, laws (from both parties) allowed people to become dependent on the government rather than themselves, their church, their communities, and their families. It became systemic. One of my favorite lines from a song is “our causes can’t see thier affects,” meaning we often cannot see when we think we are doing right, we are actually doing the wrong, because we cannot step back and see true result. Which is why the Great Depression lasted until WWII, and why we are in the mess we are in now. It could have all been avoided.July 6, 2010 at 10:58 am #168914
Who is pushing anyone down. All I’m saying is that the system excells on people taking risks that they would not take if they had little to gain from it.. Certainly we have compassion, certainly we as a society have shown over and over again that we have the greatest capacity to choose the good. But there has only been one factor that makes us different that can not be dismissed. It is the engine that enables all of us to have the capacity to “do good”. That is our freedom to own and keep our property. That is a huge motivational tool that creates wealth, jobs, and even tax revenue.July 6, 2010 at 11:35 am #168913
I mean that our DNA is not different. Our system is definitely different. Our culture is definitely different.
Work ethic is generated by two things. One is necessity for survival. The other is for gain.
It sounds to me that you are saying the same thing. It also sounds like you believe, as I do, that both of these motivational forces are eroding.
Anyone who has had to hire landscape laborers over the last ten years can tell you that a motivated labor force is not as easy as putting an ad in the paper and paying good wages. Working hard or even just having a job are no longer motivated by necessity for survival.
As our government continues to “take care of people” it further erodes that sense of necessity. Furthermore, it relies on seizing property (taxes, fees, …) in order to pay for it. This further erodes the other motivator – to own and keep property.
We have to recognize what job creation is. It is someone risking his own personal property for either gain or loss. When there is not a substantial chance of gain (= a good chance of loss) that risk is avoided. When you don’t know how much of that possible gain is to be seized, it takes away a lot of your ability to determine if there is a substantial enough gain to risk your personal property. In other words, you sit still, you don’t spend, you don’t build, you don’t hire, …..
That is where we are. There are two ways to go. One is to continue to erode that fabric that separates us from the rest of the world. The other is to embrace our past for the clear success that it was despite the fact that it does not seem as compassionate as playing Robin Hood.
I’m not wealthy. I don’t come from wealth. My parents and a sibling are immigrants. I don’t want an unemployment check. I just want opportunity. I see and have seen opportunity all of my life when others are making money because they spend it on things that we can make, move, or service.
Chasing the dream of America is what makes that hampster wheel spin. No dream = no motivation.
America is not about being a victim waiting for help. It is about opportunity to own the fruits of your own labor (not someone else’s). If you don’t see those opportunities you need to realize what actually creates opportunity and work to get any obstacles to those opportunities out of the way.
Treating only symptoms does not solve the problem. It is the problem.July 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm #168912Trace OneParticipant
So how you you, Andrew, and Jason, think we should proceed, as a society, regarding off-shore drilling? Less regulation, more free-enterprise? Is that the American way?July 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm #168911
Recall that regulations were in place,ignored, and not enforced. Who is talking about off shore drilling on this thread?
I’m not an extreme Darwinist who does not believe in regulation and protection of the environment, consumers, health, safety, security and many other things, if that is what you want to imply..
Are you going to re-invent/change what I said and then blast me for a position that I do not hold as you have often done to others? Or are you going to share your thoughts on July 4th and what makes America great for others to read and ponder? It is possible to have discussions by telling a point of view and letting others tell their points of view instead of taking no position other then attacking others on subjects that they are not even talking about.July 6, 2010 at 5:09 pm #168910
I think lately more than ever perhaps people, especially the truly middle class, are beginning to see the hampster wheel for what it is.
I can’t place blame on anyone or any specific thing directly for ‘keeping me down,’ but certainly in this economic climate the separation between classes is ever more apparent. From my own personal experience I can tell you that my rate of pay has increased very little in almost ten years in spite of ‘spinning the wheel’ (getting an education, competing for work, working long hours). That alone is demoralizing and I think it’s generally the case with many American’s today and part of the problem you and Jason bring up. It’s nearly impossible for someone in my economic position to buy anything of lasting value, ie land. Sometimes it seems like any sense of collective pride is gone amongst Americans, except perhaps on July 4th when we can buy the T-shirts and noisemakers. The only people that seem to make a decent living in this country are those selling stuff we think we need to the rest of us.
Where do we go from here? I think there needs to be some fundamental shift in our cultural value system. Perhaps some of this burden lies on academia and the public school systems, while some also lies in the example we set and what we teach to our children about materiality, money, religion, freedom, and our natural environment. I think we need to learn to think and debate again and good examples need to be set in the government.
I see and have seen opportunity all of my life when others are making money because they spend it on things that we can make, move, or service.
A rising tide floats all boats? I’m not sure I believe this anymore. Wealthy, upper class individuals are buying Chinese and investing in derivatives.
Chasing the dream of America is what makes that hampster wheel spin. No dream = no motivation.
I agree that there needs to be incentive to work, innovate, be productive, but I think there’s also a fundamental flaw in your rationale as you stated it. The American Dream, for me, isn’t about becoming the CEO of Wells Fargo for the sake of ego or financial gain and I don’t think this is what the forefathers had in mind either. The American Dream is about independence, freedom, and legacy. I think most American’s have some screwball idea of the first two, but absolutely no sense of the last. Our legacy, after we leave this Earth is what really matters in my opinion. We all have some impact, whether it be the way we treat our land and property or the information we pass on for subsequent generations.
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