From a DailyTech thread on Voyager’s pending crossing of the termination shock.
So brightly did shine American genius and the desire to build the best. Today, we are left with only the pursuit of profit; there is no quest for greatness, no heart that guides the craftsmanship.
To paraphrase Sir Edward Grey:
“The lamps are going out all over America. We shall not see them lit again in our time.”
If you are an American, savor this moment. With today’s America nothing more than a nation of illiterate, immoral and obese idiots, it is folly to think we will reach again as far.
Nice Romantic comment. Too bad it’s wrong.
First a little context. Grey was speaking about Europe before WWI - a war he was trying to stop. After the war was over in 1918, the “lights” came back on in most of Europe for two decades before going back out again between 1939-1945. Although I am a Eurosceptic, I can’t argue that the lights have been burning since the mid 1940’s (although the rioters in France are doing their best to put them out again by burning libraries and books.)
So Grey’s comment is dripping with romance – but it was wrong. No Dark Age (beyond a 10 year period of total warfare) descended on Europe, and all things considered Europe remains a dynamic center of progress and intellectual achievement.
What’s wrong with the pursuit of profit – if that’s what you’re into? Profits lead to higher taxes which can then be used for the greater good. If you don’t want to pursue profit… I just spoke to my son’s grade school teacher this morning. I don’t think she’s in it for the money.
Not everyone in the US pursues MBAs and yearns to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company – but they have the tools – and the freedom – to do so if that’s what they want. Pursuit of happiness and all that.
But that also means that some would rather sit on their butts and do just enough to get by. Do you or I have the right to force them to do otherwise? As long as my taxes aren’t supporting them, then I have no problem with it. If you don’t like it, what gives you the right to tell them what to do with their lives?
Predicting America’s decline is big business and has roots in the 19th century when America was threatened by my Irish ancestors. We were supposed to outbreed the protestants and wreck America – which we did as the laws banning abortion, all non-Catholic religions, and the constitutional amendment mandating free whiskey attest to. Almost since its inception people have predicted America’s decline, and it’s usually coincides when another ethnic group arrives. Coincidence?
Meanwhile American universities have to reject qualified foreign students who want to come here. Most foreign graduates of US universities stay – leading to brain drains in countries throughout the Middle East and Africa. The American economy continues generating wealth, jobs and raised living standards not just for Americans but for Indians, Chinese and yes, even Grey’s Europeans.
Romantic sentiment is much more alluring than cold-hard facts. But reality abhors romance almost as much as nature does a vacuum.