I’m So Old, I Can Remember when…

By | January 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

They say no one wants to grow old. This is not true. All the people ‒ mainly young men ‒ who died at Lexington, and Antietam, and Belleau Wood, and Normandy, and Tarawa, and the Chosin Reservoir, and the Ia Drang Valley, and Mazar-i-Sharif, and Fallujah, would have been happy to live out their lives and grow old.

Nevertheless, it is true that no one wants to be old. On the other hand, being old has advantages. In fact, I’m so old that I can remember when:

● Los Angeles traffic moved efficiently. Back then, there were a million fewer people. Drivers could afford to be courteous ‒ for example, to slow down a bit to allow a car to enter the freeway, rather than speed up to block it, as they do now.

● There was a vibrant middle class living in houses, not a few rich living in mega-mansions, countless poor crowded into shabby apartments or garages, homeless persons living on the street ‒ and a middle class that is both shrinking and leaving California.

● People viewed houses as places to live and raise their families, not “spec houses” to flip for a fast profit before the housing bubble burst yet again.

● The University of California and state colleges were the envy of the nation, with minimal tuition and first-rate teaching. Now California has rising tuition, and universities favor out-of-state and foreign students, who pay higher tuition. The professoriate is filled with leftist ideologues who believe their role is to indoctrinate, not teach, and a student body increasingly made up of young people all too willing to be indoctrinated. As a result, conservative speakers are either not invited at all, or must hire bodyguards, and frank anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are on the rise.

● Public schools were excellent. Discipline rarely needed to be enforced, and when it was, it was enforced by teachers and vice principals. School police were unknown. Immigrant parents could send their children there, confident that they would be taught actual subjects, not transgender studies ‒ and taught to be good Americans as well.

● Except for a few “bad” parts of town, women and the elderly could walk alone without fear. Neighbors watched out for one another. “Mugging” meant making faces for the camera.

● The police were respected and sometimes feared. Everyone knew that if you took a swing at a cop, you wound up in the emergency room before you visited the courtroom.

● If you punched a cop, he would respond with his nightstick. A “baton” was what a drum major twirled. If you pulled a knife, he would respond with his Smith & Wesson .38 Special loaded with high-speed ammunition. The revolver held only six rounds and was relatively slow to reload, so police aimed before they shot. The expression “spray and pray” was yet to be invented.

● If you murdered a child or a police officer, you would be lucky to be arrested alive. But if you were, you would usually wind up in the gas chamber in a few years. You would not die of old age, after years of sleeping in a warm bed, eating three meals a day, watching TV, exercising, and enjoying human contact ‒ while the victims’ survivors suffered in silence, waiting for closure that would never come.

● Religious and civic leaders and judges expressed basic moral principles based on the Bible and the Judeo-Christian tradition, not on Marxist theories or their own inclinations. They were wise enough to ration their sympathy. They did not squander it on law-breakers, leaving none for the law-abiding. They did not waste it on criminals, leaving none for victims like Kathryn Steinle or Ronil Singh. They had their priorities straight.

Granted, things back then were not always cheerful. The situation of women and minorities often was not favorable. But no matter the restrictions women faced, they were better off than Kate Steinle. And no matter the discrimination minorities and immigrants faced, they were better off than Ronil Singh.

“Change” is not always for the better. When people talk about “progress,” we must always ask, “What do you want us to progress towards?” When President-elect Obama declared to cheering crowds, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” few listeners thought to ask, “Transforming it into what?”

Now, belatedly, we should be asking that question.

Build more high-rises? How many more? How will we handle the traffic and the parking? Admit more immigrants? How many more? The schools, hospitals, jails, and welfare offices are already overflowing. Provide more benefits for the unemployed and the homeless? Then surely we will encourage more unemployment and more homelessness.

The water supply and electric grid are already overstretched. More “growth” will provide more taxes for the treasury and more graft for the politicians. But sooner rather than later, the whole mess will clot in an enormous civic thrombosis. And then what?

Whatever programs we establish, and whatever policies we pursue, we must be absolutely certain that we will have fewer Kate Steinles and Ronil Singhs. Otherwise, we may not survive as a nation or a civilization. Even worse, we may not deserve to survive.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.


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