Have They Stolen Our Future?

From where I’m sitting on Bar Stool #23, the overall situation is looking rather grim. James Howard Kunstler tells us that we will need to go back to an economy made by hand. Linda Brady Traynham tells us we need to become totally self-sufficient. Doug Casey tells us the situation is hopeless but not serious. Bill Bonner is still flying the “Crash Alert” flag. And the Magambo Guru opines that we are all freeking doomed. What’s a mother to do?

There are certainly many reasons from which to conclude that we’ve been cheated out of our future. I recently viewed a YouTube clip of what’s left of Detroit. The destruction is incredible. It looks like the war zones from WWII. Is Detroit an example of what will become the future of our entire country? W&G recently featured some articles that discussed the possibility of converting parts of Detroit back into small farms. Kind of takes your breath away to realize that the once-magnificent center of the automotive universe is degenerating into a vegetable garden.

When my father was born, the Wright Brothers had not yet made their December 17, 1903 heavier-than-air flights at Kill Devil Hill near Kitty Hawk, NC. During his life time, we successfully made it to the moon and back. As I marveled at the progress my father had witnessed during his lifetime, I wondered what developments I might witness during my lifetime. As a child, I recall dreaming that I might one day be able to enjoy the Dick Tracy wrist radio made so popular in that comic strip. Today, we have more computing power in a cell phone than we had in the entire Apollo command module that went to the moon. And we can also use the cell phone to talk to someone else at the same time. What a concept.

I made my debut during the Great Depression and then grew-up during the 1940s and 1950s. That I’m alive today is thanks to the discovery of penicillin. I contracted blood poisoning in 1941 and the then-standard treatment with sulfa drugs wasn’t helping. Only with the penicillin was I able to overcome and recover from the blood poisoning at the Presidio Hospital in San Francisco.

During the last half of the 1950s, I worked in the Advanced Engineering Staff of the Ford Motor Company in the Detroit area. I helped design and develop automotive concepts that are only now coming to market. They included such innovations as variable valve timing, air suspension systems, infinitely variable automatic transmissions and automotive air conditioning systems. You take these for granted today, but it took a great deal of engineering effort for those items to reach you. It was a cooperative effort among many engineering disciplines, not the least of which is today’s miniaturization of electronics and computers.

During the 1960s, I designed, developed and manufactured nine hardware items that ultimately went to the moon and back. Essentially, I provided the heating and air conditioning systems that kept the astronauts alive and comfortable. That may not sound like much until you realize that we had not yet invented the hand held calculator. We went to the moon with slide rules and vacuum tube technology. Only the Air Traffic Controllers use vacuum tubes today. The rest of us use much more advanced electronics.

Yet another technical breakthrough that took place during my lifetime was the advent of television. I recall the huge box that was delivered to our house in the late 1940s. It then took a week before a special technician could come to our house to connect this marvel. In the meantime, I sat on the floor staring at a blank screen that might have been as large as 10 inches wide while trying to imagine what I was going to be able to see once the set was operational. At that time, I’d never heard of James Clerk Maxwell nor was I familiar with Maxwell’s Equations. Yet because a few scientists and engineers were familiar with the laws of electromagnetic wave propagation, all I had to learn was where the on-off switch was located and how to change channels.

All the above was made possible by an event that took place earlier in history. A British scientist, Edmond Halley (1656-1742), used his knowledge of orbital mechanics to predict the return of a comet in the year 1758. While he did not live to actually see the comet return, the effect of his prediction was transformational. For the first time in recorded history, the man-in-the-street put aside his myths and misunderstandings and accepted science as being a correct discipline to be believed. From that time forward, “the folks” have accepted The Scientific Method of Analysis as being the reliable discipline. The witch doctors of that day were effectively put out of business.

Fast forward to present day. What happened? Where are the folks that revered science and the laws of nature? When did the politician supersede the scientist? The Scientific Method of Analysis seems to have been replaced by the political statement “Discussion Over.” Yet the very purpose of the Scientific Method is to never stop questioning the validity of any conclusion. In science, if any exception is found, it requires going back to square one and starting over. Yet in politics, “discussion over?” In the political arena, if one denies that the law-of-gravity applies to them, the moment they step-off Half Dome (Yosemite), guess what? My point is that laws of nature do rule regardless of what the politician would have you believe.

Yet we seem to have slipped into real-life double-speak. The “1984” version of life seems to prevail. Good is bad and bad is good. Some politically-connected banks are considered too big to fail even though they were/are zombie banks. The very institutions that caused the financial meltdown are thus saved. Ditto insurance companies, auto manufacturers and any other institution with high-level political connections. Real producers are permitted to fail without compassion whatsoever. The bad guys get rewarded and the good guys get the kings elevator (royal shaft).

Readers that find their way to websites such as WhiskeyandGunpower.com and TheTexasRing.com typically take responsibility for their actions as well as representing strong beliefs. It’s probably also safe to say that these readers enjoy a better life style than did their parents. It’s probably also accurate to opine that they wish to create an even better life for their children and grandchildren. Yet despite this objective, we find ourselves being restricted daily by more and more official government laws and policies. You must do this and you may not do that. The nanny state is now in-charge.

As I pen this paper, the President has just responded to the Christmas Day attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit; albeit only two weeks late. The message: “It was a systemic failure and we must do better.” The information was all there but we didn’t get that information to all the right people in a timely manner. Yet this same government thinks they can make a better medical choice for you than you can make for yourself. This is the same government that “knows” that anthropogenic climate change is the problem leading to Global Warming. We are expressly forbidden to drill for oil in ANWAR or off our east and west coasts or off the Florida coast. We are mandated to waste food (corn) to manufacture a liquid to propel our cars. Only one slight problem: it takes more energy to create the ethanol than the energy we ultimately get from burning that ethanol.

What happened to our future? The government has currently usurped it for their own benefit. All for our own protection, of course.

In my opening paragraph, I mentioned several prominent writers. I’m always amused at the reader responses that typically follow one of JHK’s articles. While many seem to accuse him of being simply doom and gloom, I consider him a realist. He calls ‘em the way he sees ‘em. He’s just the messenger. Those that don’t agree think they solve the problem by shooting the messenger. But every one I named are just the messengers. Their purpose is to get you to critically think about the problems they raise. Don’t shoot the messengers. Instead, try to find solutions to the problems they identify.

One of the most exciting newsletters in the Agora Financial stable is titled Breakthrough Technology Alert. Agora hired Patrick Cox a couple of years ago to take over the letter and he has turned out to be exceptional. I find myself fascinated by his descriptions of the transformational sciences which include biotechnology, nanotechnology and stem cell research. If I correctly understand what he’s written, we are within 5 years of having the ability to rejuvenate the human body organs and systems as well as preventing/curing diseases. One company already has a cream that literally erases wrinkles and that product is expected to make it to the market any day now – my wife can’t wait.

I submit that these endeavors are what will continue to provide our improved future. I could certainly fall into the “woe is me” trap every time I see Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid pontificate on some new law they want to shove down my throat. Certainly I’d prefer to just be left alone to make my own decisions and accept the responsibility and results for my actions. I certainly did not expect to be spending my “golden years” having to fend-off the parasites. But such is life. I can either succumb or I can try to find a solution that renders the overbearing, arrogant government ineffective if not outright impotent. I choose to find the alternative solution. I like my creature comforts; I value the extraordinary benefits I enjoy as a result of the division-of-labor concept; I don’t choose to return to a world made by hand.

History is an excellent teacher if only you’ll take the time to look and try to understand. Automobiles have always been my first love so I’m reminded of what Henry Ford did. At the time Henry was designing his car and developing the production assembly line, a major existing transportation system was the horse and carriage industry. Instead of going to Washington, DC to pressure his Senator to introduce a Bill to outlaw buggy whip makers, Henry simply built a better substitute – the automobile – and the buggy whip makers fell into disuse.

I suggest that we concentrate our efforts towards building a better mouse trap rather than trying to hide in the political morass that prevails today. I’ve outlived the villains of my day such as John L. Lewis (Coal union boss); Walter Reuther (Auto Workers Union boss); FDR; LBJ; Jimmy Hoffa (Teamster Union boss); etc. People who produce can always outlive the parasites.

Have “they” stolen our future? I don’t think so even though they’ve certainly tried. We’ve got a lot of dead wood to burn off, but the “can-do” American Spirit has always been up to the task. In the interim, it would certainly be a giant step if we could clean out the currently corrupt gang in DC and resurrect the Constitution.

Tex Norton

January 21, 2010

The Daily Reckoning