I just had a long conversation with my Swedish neighbor. Seems he is still getting his ass handed to him by the the corrupt locals and officials, plus tourism and trade is down and he's now pining for the socialism of Sweden, where he will prosper personally whether he works hard or not, have his six week vacations and free health care.
But he has the temerity to tell me that we must elect Obama because things can't keep going like they are. Sure they can, I tell him. It's worked marvelously for over 200 years.
He did concede that all of the world's richest people come from the U.S. ; it's why his boss sent him here-- to grow another business. Land of opportunity, still!
He has no economic sense because he's grown up in a cocoon of security. We spoke of taxes and how he'll need to raise his rates even higher so that he can continue to make a living, how it won't actually affect him as much as his customers... all the baseline realities of income and expense, profit and payout, and who ultimately pays for business taxes. His pay has been subsidized by his boss back in Sweden, and he's supposed to make money here in the U.S. But he's made the mistake of thinking this pirate town is as sweet and orderly as others.
And for this he insisted that Socialism was superior.
Well yeah, when you don't have to worry about due diligence in your business plans, no researching of locale and local officials. (The city here actually told him they had no drawings of the municipal marina and he was forced to spend $30k for a private contractor to provide plans. I believe him, because when I worked in the tourism industry here, the local Chamber told me they had no historical information about hotel occupancy. In a tourist town. Yeah, right.) They treated him like a babe in the woods. Which he is. He may be very intelligent, but he is culturally as ignorant as a Third Worlder. In fact, the Third Worlders fare much better here because they understand corruption and bribery. However, my neighbor's boss has plenty of money, and this project is just that: a social service for his friend and employee, so the personal loss is covered. Safe. As long as his boss has money.
We talked more about business, profit margins and health care. Nothing got through to him until he expressed a desire to pay his employees more. I pounced. I told him to sell his Escalade, take his kid out of private school, and move to a more modest residence and he could do so. You'd have thought I punched him between the eyes. He had no answer. The wheels began to stubbornly turn.
I told him that Socialism demands that sort of sacrifice, (indeed, my nabe tells me he gets to keep very little of his money because of all the taxes there) but Communism will hold a gun to your head and force you to share everything, so why not just give me the keys to your home and let me pick out what I want, we'll call it even.
To his credit, he got it. Fortunately, life really is easier for him in Sweden, which is okay if the rest of the world will let him keep it. Perhaps his stay here will help him consider that maybe the world won't let him keep it.
But I can't imagine such a life, with no real incentives or goals or frontiers to work toward. Maybe that's the real "American" difference that has been lost in the DC/NY corridor of punditry: the Pioneers, Daniel Boones, Lewis and Clarks for whom the status quo was okay, but not enough.
Is it wrong? Wrong to push, strive for more, investigate more thoroughly, discover more, create more, and yes, conquer human enemies of poverty and ignorance? Because this is our national identity. This is what it means to be American. Not the jobs we hold, or the neighborhoods we live in, or the things we enjoy. We're not racists, or greedy war mongerers, or zenophobic isolationists until the racist, isolationist and greedy pundits in the Northeast say so, apparently.
I reject that notion. And I reject Socialism, especially the pretty, sleepy and ultimately dangerous kind generated by Sweden.
Oh, I see it's been eleven months since I last wrote about my sweet, Swedish neighbors here. I'd forgotten. I don't have to work with him anymore on committees since I am no longer in the tourism industry here, but he just reaffirmed my post of last year. Except that he's learning, slowly, that the world isn't gonna just bow down to beautiful Swedish idealism. It's full of pirates and others who want what you have, and will take it from you. He's waking up just in time to see he's not up to the task. Good for him, and his family.
Me? Give me the struggle, as long as the reward is equal to it. Sleep is for when we're dead.
Wake up and work for what you cherish. Your vote is being negated by corruption. That should make you mad enough to march, demonstrate, file a lawsuit, and demand accountability. Don't worry, when you lose your job you'll have nothing but time on your hands. Just like Community Organizers.
It ain't over until you give up.