Flat top Americans

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader attended a memorial service over the weekend for a friend of our family. Our friend was 90 and lived a great long life.

During the reception after the service there was a slide show playing on a video monitor. The majority of the photos were of our friend in the majority of his life before we knew him. It was interesting to see him as a younger man in the 1950s and early 60s. He had a flat top hair cut, crisp suit and narrow tie.

At one point your Maximum Leader looked around the room and realized something interesting. There were three other men in the room who still wore flat top hair cuts. Who still wore crisp navy suits. Who still wore narrow ties. The three men were likely all in their 80s.

Your Maximum Leader worked the room a little and found out about these other men, or directly struck up conversation with them. They were a former airline pilot, a former civil engineer and a former chemical engineer. They spoke of knowing our friend at various stages of his life. We shared our thoughts and memories and then went our own ways.

On the drive back to your Maximum Leader’s in-law’s house it occurred to your Maximum Leader that these men are directly responsible for so much that is America today. These men built the modern United States. They came home from a war where they had saved the world and proceeded to change their nation and the world.

Your Maximum Leader couldn’t help but wonder how their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are squandering their work. He lamented to himself the decline of American manufacturing. He was saddened by the coarseness of our popular culture. He was absolutely crushed by the whining that punctuates any discourse about affairs of the day.

This is not to say that your Maximum Leader wants to return to a 1950s that was all Ward Cleaver-esque. He doesn’t. And please don’t think that your Maximum Leader is unaware of the idealized 1950’s and early 1960’s. He holds no illusions about that period - for good and ill.

What he is saying is that the spirit of doing, and making, and building and progressing is lost in our time. We don’t build things. Sure we innovate and invent, but we rely on others to do the actual producing (and in many situations that is fine - but shouldn’t we have some domestic industrial capacity?). We hardly seem capable of maintaining a national infrastructure that was largely the vision and work of those men with flat top haircuts. We don’t seem willing to work for much when we can coast on reputation and good fortune.

Sadly, reputation changes and good fortune changes to bad suddenly.

Your Maximum Leader was struck by a deep pathos on a holiday weekend that is his favorite of the year. If a pollster had contacted him and asked the most inane of inane (yet frequently repeated) pollster questions he would have said that our nation is “on the wrong track.” Sadly the right track doesn’t seem like a possible path for us.

Say we were able to take some of the flat top haircut Americans we have and put them to the task of energy independence, what would result? Probably little. You see, in order to get from here to there we would need to transition. This transition period (one that might require more domestic oil production, and more coal and more natural gas to get us “over the hump”) is so objectionable to so many people that it hardly seems possible that we will be able to move forward. Frankly this is the stage at which we’ve been stuck for 30 years. Myopia is the problem we have in our nation, and it is the bane of the flat top American. When so many can’t see more that what is right in front of them you can’t really have a vision of the future. What is worse, when myopic leaders (who are legion and of all persuasions) articulate a “vision” it is nothing more than a series of short term (myopic) goals strung together; because these people can’t think in other terms.

Your Maximum Leader wants his children to grow up and be the descendants (spiritually, as well as literally - we have quite a number of family photos blessed with many flat top haircuts) of those Americans who changed the world seventy years ago. He hope that they can accomplish great things. He hopes they will not have to be he suspects that they will be the ones that will have to save this nation, if it is to be saved. He also hopes that if they do turn out to be the flat top Americans of the future that their spirits will not be crushed by short-sighted idiots who don’t have the ability to conceive of that it was the work of American with flat top haircuts that made it possible for them to become short-sighted idiots in the first place.

Carry on.

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