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In One Man's Lifetime


I am ambivalent regarding being old enough to have lived my formative years in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but on balance I believe that what I am today was significantly affected by the experiences in high school and college. How many of you have wonderful recollections of growing up in a “Beaver Cleaver” middle-American household? The Cleavers live in Mayfield, which was Likely to be representative of Ohio, whereas I grew up in Wisconsin, “around the corner,” as we’d describe it.

Small town 1950s Wisconsin was pretty much like the mythical Mayfield, or perhaps even Mayberry, where doors were unlocked, and Deputy Fife kept his single bullet in his shirt pocket, “just in case.” Depending on the season, in the trunk of my car was either a set of golf clubs or a hunting rifle. In the ignition (where it belonged) was the key.

We feared the disappointment of any teacher, principal, or parent, should we mess up in school. President Eisenhower was a war hero (we won – again) who recognized the need for an Interstate Highway System to accommodate the burgeoning economy. Times were good. The country was strong and safe. Our public educational system was the best.

In the 1950s, a number of wonderful innovations were happening:

  • 1950 – the first credit card appeared, and Snoopy was born, as Peanuts was first published
  • 1951 brought the first color TV
  • 1954 – in Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled segregation illegal (really, it took that long?)
  • 1955 brought Disneyland
  • 1056 produced Elvis Presley, and America’s parents were outraged; their children weren’t
  • 1957 saw us slip to second place in the Space Race, as the Soviets launched Sputnik, which produced a surge in American national pride, with a corresponding desire to regain the lead
  • Then, in 1959, Fidel Castro rose to power, and, in my opinion, the country started the slide we now call the “Sixties”

Why am I taking this stroll down Memory Lane with you? The (perhaps not-so-obvious) answer is the Trump Presidency. If that seems like a stretch, stay with me.

Following the Revolutionary War, Andrew Jackson eliminated the nation debt. However, following WWII, when the debt stood at $285 Billion, that debt was not repaid, despite a thriving economy. Right about then, politicians began looking at re-election to public office as a career. Many who were first elected in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies stayed for decades (we allowed that to happen, sorry to say).

What have these long-tenured elected officials accomplished? Are they proud of their record? Is the country better off? Is our public education system the best in the world?  Have they been good stewards of the finances, the culture, and/or our safety? I can only speak for myself, but in my opinion, they should hang their heads in shame.

Apparently, however, I am not alone, as became evident in the election of 2016, when voters opted to elect a Washington outsider. Most of us are excited that things are actually being accomplished, and promises are being kept. We are, unfortunately, not supported by Wall Street, the Mainstream Media, or elected officials. Despite our debt, now in excess of $21 Trillion, current Administration policy seems anathema to those groups. Record trade imbalances are met with opposition to Trump’s attempts for change. “Resist” seems to be the attitude. When obstructionism is the order of the day, our problems are virtually impossible to solve.

Wake up, America. No tariffs have been imposed, negotiations are ongoing, and changes are imminent. Embrace the changes we so badly need. When the only situation that is intolerable is the status quo, do something!

And, by the way, you longstanding elected obstructionist political swamp-dwellers, JOHNNY CAN’T READ!

Van Wie Financial is fee-only. For a reason.