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Not the America I Remember

| April 05, 2023

A confession – I’m a child of the 1960s and I cannot remember a time in America more confusing than these.  Homeless men and women sleep on the streets in bigger numbers than I could have ever imagined when I was young.  What happened?  A Governor enters his mansion, vowing to take-on homelessness and during his tenure, the number of homeless has doubled.  Taxpayers have spent 17-billion dollars to fix the problem over the past three years and the number just gets bigger.

Is this the America my son will inherit?

Another confession – I’m a financial planner and a meeting I had with a client recently addressed how inflation can destroy wealth.  The husband and his wife have been clients for many years.  They’ve done quite well.  They’ve raised two daughters, one of whom will graduate from college soon to a start a career with a well-paying job.  The other will graduate with a degree in the sciences.  They’ve saved enough to retire comfortably at a normal retirement age, but there’s one problem.  If inflation stays at its current levels, their plan fails.  That means that a couple who’ve done everything possible to ensure a comfortable retirement would not achieve that dream.

That’s not the America I remember.

Yes, growing up through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were tumultuous and perhaps it will always be that way in America, but I felt a belief that the nation would always find its way.  The Vietnam war did end.  The long lines of people waiting to buy gas in the 70s eventually went away.  Prosperity returned and it seemed as if America had evolved into a wonderful place again.

Then came the future, this place where the wrong ideology can earn you a knock on the door from the Internal Revenue Service.  Witness Journalist Matt Taibbi, who appeared before Congress regarding the Twitter files.  He received internal documents from the firm’s new owner Elon Musk.  His testimony was essentially that Twitter colluded with federal authorities to suppress information about the Covid lab leak theory and Hunter Biden’s lap-top among other things.  That same day, apparently an IRS agent visited his home.  Coincidence?  That’s for each individual to decide.

Protest used to be a sign of health for the republic.  I remember admiring protestors who wanted to end war, end racism and protest for women’s rights, but when parents protested and raised objections about what their children were learning in school, FBI agents got involved.  Are parents who are concerned about curriculum out-of-line?  Do they represent a threat?

Maybe I’m naïve.  Am I clinging to a notion that things were better back then, when I was so much younger than today?  Perhaps so, but I have never been more uncertain about where the nation’s headed than I am right now.  There is this concept that resides in economics and goes like this; if things can’t continue, then they won’t.  Inflation will subside, war will end and the First Amendment will win.  Let’s hope so, anyway.