Still, this is just one piece of legislation so it took me a while to figure out why I felt so sad about it. It’s because this bill, more than any other passed or contemplated, makes me think that before too long - 25 years, 50, maybe 100 - the United States is going to look exactly like a Western European nation. Don’t get me wrong: many of them are nice places. But they seem awfully tame, awfully limited and I suspect the reason for that is their financial constraints. The Western European nations have built good lives for their citizens within the terms of their current circumstances but I don’t sense in them a vein of daring, a sense of limitless opportunity, a belief that more is always obtainable - all the faith in ambition that has always been the hallmark of the United States.
With Waxman-Markey, this country is putting its economic engine in Park and - if things don’t go perfectly - in Reverse. There will never be more; the best has already been. What could be sadder?
Today The Anchoress writes of the Obama Administration’s plans to “essentially turn fishermen into government employees” in the service of environmental issues and says:
It just doesn’t sound like America, at all. No liberty. No freedom of choice. You can choose to work for the government, as they permit, or not work at all.
And there is a weird lack of joy to it all, don’t you think? No fishing because you love it; because it’s in your family, and your blood and your culture and there’s nothing you’d rather do than captain your own boat and work for yourself.
None of that.
No joy, no independence; just the state.
I fear that we are becoming a nation that believes in, that trusts in, only what can be calculated and quantified. If the economic fallout from this government plan is deemed acceptable, no other factors need be considered. The elements that don’t fit neatly into spreadsheets and that we all once knew made our lives worth living and our nation, yes, exceptional - ambition, risk, family tradition, vision, optimism, and, yes, joy - don’t seem to fit into the picture anywhere. A gray world is a good world because then everyone and everything is the same.
It’s funny. The older I get, the brighter the colors I like. Perhaps a gray world is what those who are younger want and they will be perfectly happy when they get it. If so, better them than me. I am grateful that the America I grew up in and began to grow old in was clashing, vibrant, kaleidoscopic - and unlimited.