Last September– a bit more than seven months ago– my father died. Technically he was my step-father, but he was every bit my dad, and I loved him. The loss was hard.
We didn’t do a memorial service right away, though. My mother understandably just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. So we waited… until last weekend, and held the memorial service at the George Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
It was a good thing my mother booked such a large venue; the memorial service was incredibly well attended, and nearly 500 people came to pay their respects.
After the service was over, I wanted to get my mind off the day’s events, so some friends and I popped upstairs to check out the Bush presidential museum… which was currently presenting an exhibit aptly named “Freedom Matters”.
I couldn’t agree more.
Access to the museum, however, is tightly controlled. And you can only enter after going through an airport-style security checkpoint. You know the drill– empty your pockets, take off your clothes, and submit to an angry authority who treats you like you’ve just been booked at the county jail.
My friend Jim was lucky enough to receive extra screening; after setting off the metal detector, he was pulled aside and assumed the “I surrender” pose while gruff security personnel waved a magnetic wand near his genitals.
Curiously the security wand kept going off, prompting the increasingly irate guard to demand “what is this? What’s in here?”
I couldn’t help myself and shouted, “It’s his dignity!” Apparently Jim forgot to remove it before going through security.
The irony seemed to be lost on the guards, whose brusque treatment of museum visitors was taking place directly in front of an exhibit literally called “Freedom Matters”.
At the front of the exhibit was a large banner– I snapped a photo– defining freedom, according to a former Soviet dissident:
“Can a person walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm? If he can, then that person is living in a free society. If not, it’s a fear society.”
I thought about this quote for a few moments, glanced back at the security guards wanding another unlucky visitor, and quickly realized– based on this definition– that the US is quickly becoming a fear society.
You can no longer freely express views without fear of reprisal anymore– especially if those views conflict with the radical woke left.
Personal opinions can easily be viewed as hate speech, misinformation, violence, etc. And we’ve all seen too many instances of people’s lives being ruined by cancel culture. But I’ll come back to this.
After wandering around the museum for a while and enjoying some jokes with my friends, I finally returned home to the AirBnb I’m renting with my family, very close to where I grew up in the Dallas area.
It’s the quintessential American suburb: clean, quiet, safe, and stable. The house where I’m staying is at the end of a picturesque tree-lined cul-de-sac, and on the other end of the street is a large park where small children were playing organized sports in the afternoon.
Parents chatted with each other on the playground while their kids bounced around the jungle gym. Retirees were out walking their dogs. Even the postman drove by and greeted some of the residents by name. Everyone was happy… and it was basically perfect.
This isn’t the famous ‘American Dream’. It’s not a dream. This is real life as it’s supposed to be… the pinnacle of civilization, the product of more than two centuries of hard work and responsibility. It is the American Reality.
That’s why it’s so frustrating to watch the people in charge dismantle it. Brick by brick, neighborhood by neighborhood, they’ve been chipping away at this vast, enviable middle class prosperity, ripping it away in front of our very eyes.
They’ve encouraged “mostly peaceful” violence and caused an alarming rise in crime as a result of their soft “criminal first” policies.
They’ve sent the cost of living to record highs, and yet have no understanding how their spending practices could have possibly contributed to inflation. They’ve expanded the national debt to a record high $31.5 trillion and plan to keep overspending tax revenue by trillions of dollars every year.
They’ve worked hard to re-engineer childhood education (and have succeeded in many school districts). Biology has been rewritten to conform to new woke ethics. Math is racist. And parents who complain about the decline in educational standards are threatened by the federal government.
The most comical part of this suffering is the abject political dysfunction that’s on display every single day of our lives.
Consider that, amid deadly and toxic train derailments, airplanes around the country that have been grounded, total chaos at the national seaports, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s priority right now is ensuring that Ford and General Motors use female crash test dummies.
It’s so ridiculous it almost sounds made up. And yet it’s completely true.
Or consider that the Treasury Department is now weeks away from defaulting on the national debt, once again, having reached its statutory debt limit. Congress is required to pass a law to raise the debt ceiling.
Yet the President of the United States refuses to negotiate a single penny in spending cuts in order to reach a compromise with the House of Representatives. Not a penny.
Simultaneously the guy was shown on video recently unable to remember how many grandchildren he has, or even the fact that he had recently returned from a trip to Ireland.
These examples of extreme incompetence never end. It’s so aggravating. Even terrifying.
That’s why I write so much about taking simple, sensible steps to reclaim control.
For example, if you think Pete Buttigieg is doing a great job as Transportation Secretary, then by all means, please continue to overpay your taxes and give him as much of your money as possible.
If, on the other hand, you recognize that he is demonstrably incompetent, completely unqualified to be Transportation Secretary, and was only given the position because he checks a diversity box (and agreed to endorse candidate Biden in 2020) then you might want to consider the multitude of completely legal ways to reduce your tax bill… and stop giving Pete so much money to waste.
It’s perfectly normal to feel angry or disgusted with America’s terrible leadership. But it’s a lot more effective to channel some of that energy into reducing their impact on your life.
There absolutely are ways to reduce your tax bill, to mitigate the effects of inflation, to still make phenomenal investments, to fund your retirement, and to ensure that you’re in a position of strength no matter how destructive they become.
There’s no downside in doing this. If this decline reverses and America starts to dig its way out of this hole, you won’t be worse off for putting yourself in a stronger position.
And that is actually still a possibility. This country has so much potential upside from its entrepreneurial brilliance, talented workforce, immense resource wealth, and more. That’s why it’s so bewildering to see how badly the people in charge are screwing it up.
At the moment, though, it’s difficult to see any real change on the horizon. As President Biden said in his re-election announcement, he wants to “finish the job”. By that I presume he means completely destroying the country.
This is nothing new; history is full of superpowers who eradicate themselves from within. They lay waste to the very ideals that made them strong and prosperous to begin with, they create divisions and disunity, and they subject themselves to horrendous, weak leadership.
But it’s one thing to understand the decline of empires and civilizations through the lens of history. It’s quite another to watch it happen from your living room window.