PIE IN THE SKY

Not long ago, I read a post detailing how America fares when stacked against other countries.

CapitolBuilding

We aren’t the richest or the most productive country . We have relatively high unemployment. Purchasing power per capita is unimpressive. We get salaries that sound good, but the cost of living overran our paychecks long ago. We’ve lost more jobs to automation than outsourcing. One machine, one robot replaces a dozen or two workers.

US_Income_Distribution_1968 (1)There are few jobs for unskilled laborers that can support a family. We manufacture too little, depend too much on service-based work.

Americans are convinced their government is awful. Corrupt. Really, our government is merely inefficient and mired in oppositional politics. Funny how after morons are in office, nobody voted for them. How did that happen?

Statistics are fragments, not a story. We’re having hard times and I doubt we’ll see the end of them quickly. We have work to do. Rethinking where people will work and what they’ll be paid.

Figuring out what we want from our government. Without the hyperbole and entrenched party positions. For all that, we don’t exactly live in Hell.

Statistics need context. We are not even close to a seriously corrupt nation, regardless of perception. I’ve seen corruption. We’re amateurs.

I wonder if Americans would really like living in one of those top-rated countries, like say Finland. Where 90% of your salary goes to taxes. You get great services and a safety net. You won’t wind up living in a crate and you’ll never die because you can’t afford surgery or medication. But there’s payback.

Socialism isn’t a terrible way to live, not even close to the nightmare portrayed by the GOP. It’s not heaven, either.

US_Income_Distribution_2009Mostly, it means working harder or better doesn’t get you a promotion, more money or even recognition. You are whatever your G rating is and move up  by seniority. It’s secure, but sort of dull.

Mind you, plenty of people can’t imagine living any other way. Lots of others would rather be here and would happily take their chances on capitalism. They think we complain too much. They have a point.

A friend of mine lived in Belgium for 15 years. He described it this way: “In Europe, if they don’t say it’s allowed, you can safely assume it’s forbidden. In the U.S., if they don’t tell you it’s forbidden, you know it’s allowed.”

That’s a huge difference.

Like every country, we have strong points and problems. We’ve made some progress, but not enough. Unlike small homogeneous countries — like Finland — we’re a conglomeration of people from everywhere. We’re never going to be like those other countries. We like our freedom too much.

We are what we are. Good and bad. But I am sure we will all live happily ever after. Because what other choice is there?

GLIMMERGLASS

Greetings from the birthplace of James Fenimore Cooper, and the Baseball Hall of Fame. We are poised on the shore of Lake Otsego. We just got here less than an hour ago … and I opened the back door to our room and voilà … Glimmerglass!

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For anyone still under the impression that young James Fenimore Cooper was raised in a log cabin on the frontier, he was actually raised in a big, white mansion at the head of Lake Otsego. To be fair, it had indeed been wilderness when his father settled there. Today, it is gentrified and expensive. Manicured farmland abuts mansions. An elegant area of exceptional beauty.

James’ father, the venerable William Cooper, founded the town. Will Cooper hung out with John Adams and George Washington and was a big deal even before his son became America’s first best-selling author.

Glimmerglass in the books is, of course, Lake Otsego. Tonight, as we were coming back from dinner, the lake looked like a gleaming gem in a deep green setting.

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Everything you might want to know about James Fenimore Cooper, America’s first novelist, here.

It’s kind of gray and rainy today. Tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, the sun will shine, or so they promise . I hope I will have more pictures to show you and stories to tell tomorrow.

An interesting point about lake side living is that it’s at least 15 degrees colder out back than out the front door. All the folks in the back barbecuing or just watching the day end are wearing heavy jackets. Those on the front porch, in the rocking chairs are wearing tee shirts. Natural air conditioning at work.