As a proud GenXer and child of the 1980s, my generation gave the world some great music — but what else?
I look at how well my parents and my generation are doing governing the country, and it’s a little disheartening. I see two parties covered in excrement from wallowing in the mud too long together. Like the Looney Toons Sheepdog and Coyote, they sling mud at each other all day only to retreat to the smoky back room to enjoy a whiskey, a cigar, and a good laugh at the peasants outside. Our founders would already be to arms with how far we’ve slid. There is no doubt we have a political ruling class. Some are (D’s) and some are (R’s), but how they rule shows little to emulate.
When Ben Franklin came out of the hall in Philadelphia he was asked, what have you wrought us? He answered, A Republic if you can keep it. His words are so prophetic it’s eerie. His statement belied the knowledge that human existence has not done well in keeping freedom. Human nature leans toward a strong-willed survivor mentality. Dictators tend to rise, like bullies on a playground, and most people submit to it, the rebels are killed and freedom dies. Freedom is a fragile dream best grown in a Republic. However, a Republic requires much of its citizenry. The leaders are meant to come from the people. Our nation’s representatives were not supposed to make a career of leading the country. Holding office was meant to be a time of service, not a time of enriching of one’s self. People were equal in casting each vote. That vote requires a level of knowledge as to what’s going in the nation.
It seems we’ve strayed a long way from that idea. Every year we cede away a little more freedom as the yoke of soft tyranny settles around our necks. I can’t even start to lecture the Millennials for their supposed lack of direction or ‘who cares?’ attitude. Those of us who care about the country and its future look at the younger generation and are tempted to look at them with disdain.
We could judge them for mindlessly staring at their phones all day and worry that as a nation we are screwed. Well, we might be, but I have hope for the Millennials. They almost can’t do worse than their predecessors.
I write a lot about corruption among our elected officials and usually powerful people of industry who are part of the game it has all become. As the Millennials are entering the work force and places of power in government we will see what their influence will be. How will they govern? I hope better than we have.
Here’s a prime example of the sickness that needs to be cleansed from American politics. I’ve written before about Hedge Fund Billionaire Bill Ackman, but couldn’t help myself again as he is a great picture of what not to become. He’s the kind of guy it’s easy to dislike. Pershing Square is Bill’s Hedge Fund, and he wields it like a weapon. He has personally declared war on Herbalife. Herbalife is a health shake company posting $5 billion in sales last year mostly coming from their army of loyal distributors. Herbalife has about 8,000 employees as well, making it a great American company (we need jobs here). Bill may have something personal against Herbalife, but he has orchestrated a scenario where he definitely stands to profit by destroying it.
His company publicly declared taking a $1 Billion short position in Herbalife in an attempt to reap the billions from their demise. Herbalife stock fell 10% in six seconds. Trading was halted as circuit breakers were tripped to avoid a panic. Ackman almost succeeded that day in crushing a fine company. When that failed he turned to his friends in government. If you can’t accomplish your nefarious plans through market manipulation, why not try crony capitalism. A few million spent the right way in Washington still gets things done. Bill’s friends in high places have come after Herbalife to try to shut down their entire business model. Herbalife fought back, and it is not over yet. To learn more read this great article from Fortune Magazine.
Recently, Ackman was in the news again facing an insider trading lawsuit charges stemming from a drug deal gone wrong. Apparently, in a Gordon Gecko type move, Pershing manipulated stocks and played fast and loose with a deal for Allergan Pharmaceuticals. Stockholders are suing him. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Don’t be this guy! Don’t be like his corrupt friends in high places.
Millennials, take back our government and usher in a new era of responsibility. You could do it. Clean house. It needs to happen now and again. Put term limits on our long timers in government. Bring down the Ackmans of the world. Educate yourself. Run for office. Start a business. The American Dream is not dead, it may be on life support, but it just needs a gritty new generation to take hold of it and demand that it come true. I hope you do it. I hope you’ll have more to show for your generation than some awesome music.