“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
When you drive the PA Turnpike for 7 hours you have a lot of time to think. Our trip to Altoona was bittersweet. My oldest son is beginning his senior year at Penn State. He has his whole life ahead of him. But you never know for sure. His best friend was killed in a car accident one year ago. That tragic event has changed him. He is more serious and introspective. He is searching for a deeper meaning to life. He has downloaded a number of books about spirituality this summer.
He is worried about getting a job after graduation. His degree in Information Technology doesn’t guarantee a job. No degree guarantees a job anymore. I hope he is able to land a decent job with a decent company. He won’t be burdened with any student loan debt. That’s my gift to him. He also understands what is going on in this country. He doesn’t trust the government or the police. He has a healthy skepticism about everything in the media. Driving in a car with me for two hours a day will do that to you.
On the interminable drive, I thought about my senior year in college. It was a great time. I shared an apartment off-campus with two buddies. I had my academics completely under control, so there was plenty of time for enjoying my final days of freedom with friends. There was softball, basketball, frat parties, concerts, and many nights of drinking. Our apartment was fairly big and perfect for parties. There were many interviews with accounting firms and many rejection letters. Our biggest most drunken party was the rejection letter burning party. There were so many rejection letters among the attendees that we achieved a huge bonfire in our yard.
I graduated from college in 1986 and I had hopes and dreams that seemed achievable. Jobs were plentiful. If you took the necessary steps (CPA, MBA), worked hard, and joined the right company, a successful career in finance was there for the taking. If you invested your money in the stock market consistently, dollar cost averaging would lead to a long-term nest egg. Monetary and fiscal policy was too abstract for someone trying to raise a family and build a successful career. Accounting manager, Treasurer, Controller, Strategic Planning – next stop CFO. Politics was uninteresting to me. Life was progressing nicely until the turn of the century.
Then 9/11 happened. Stock market crashes, Middle East wars, wars on terrorism, Patriot Act, feckless politicians, criminal bankers, Federal Reserve created bubbles and a career thrown off-track by a diversity queen CEO. Many hopes for my career, my country and my kids’ future were dashed as I turned 40. I’m not anything like the person I was in 2000. I’m far more serious and far less optimistic. My eyes have been opened and I don’t like what I see. The leadership of this country is corrupt, greedy, and implementing laws, regulations, and policies which will ultimately lead to the country’s demise. The majority of citizens are willfully ignorant of the financial peril we face, while allowing themselves to be distracted by modern day circuses and enslaved in debt by the financiers and their media propaganda arms. It is a mental struggle to get through each day knowing what lies ahead.
It seems the sorrow increases exponentially as fathers, babies, teenagers and friends die far too soon. I’ve witnessed the deaths of far too many friends and family over the last few years. The death of teenagers and babies is too much to bare. The deaths of fathers is understandable, but no less sad. And now the death of someone I’ve never met, but still considered a close friend, has me pondering the meaning of life. AWD was a few months younger than me. He worked out at the gym every day. He would bust my balls about being overweight. He would warn me that anger turned inward would lead to depression. He was a doctor, and he died at the age of 50. He didn’t know he was going to die. He was a prepper. He was taking steps to survive the coming storms. He was armed. He wanted a country where his young daughters could succeed. He railed against injustice on a daily basis. And in an instant he was gone. All the preparations and plans were for naught.
I haven’t slept well since I learned of his death on Saturday. I thought a lot about AWD during my drive. The rural views along the PA Turnpike on a bright sunny day were peaceful and idyllic. Farms dotted the countryside and the population was sparse. I thought these people would weather the coming storms much better than those living in the cities and suburbs. I’ve tried to prepare for an uncertain future, but if and when the storm hits, it will likely be all for naught. I’m still nothing but a rat in a cage. Most of us are in the same cage. Most of us have family obligations and don’t have the financial resources to just pick up and move to a safer place. And after seeing what happened to AWD, what does it really matter? We are only given a certain amount of time on this earth and you never know when that time will be up.
I can almost understand why the majority of Americans don’t bother with worrying about the future. We’re all dead in the end anyway. It is a selfish attitude, but if you are only going to be here for 80 years or less, then why not rack up debt, lease a new car every two years, live in a McMansion with a massive mortgage, accept every goodie offered by the politicians, and let future generations fend for themselves. But then you arrive at Altoona and pull into the apartment complex where your son is living his senior year.
As far as shitholes go, it was an OK shithole. He is sharing an 800 sq ft apartment with three other guys. It has one bathroom. We arrived at 12:30 on Sunday and they looked a little tired. It seems they had their first party of the year the night before and it went on until 5:30 am. One roommate immediately reminded me of Spiccoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He offered to make us some gnarly bacon and eggs. His other roommate was clean cut and well spoken. My son still has a Ron Paul 2012 magnet on his car and I was pleasantly surprised to see a huge Gadsden flag hanging on the living room wall. These are the millennials that give me hope.
Kevin and his friends are at the beginning of their adult lives. Their hopes and dreams haven’t been shattered. It isn’t 1986 anymore. They face much greater challenges, have far less opportunities, and will be left with the financial ruins created by their elders. This is why I could never become one of the mindless consuming zombie horde. The choice is between accepting the way things are and the way things should be. I cannot in good conscience stand idly by while a few evil psychopaths pillage this country and enslave us in the chains of debt at the point of a gun. I believe the next fifteen years will be a time of peril, when the country could be destroyed or saved. It pains me knowing that my kids will be at the forefront of this battle, but I’ll do everything I can to win the battle for liberty, freedom and a restoration of our Constitution.
I don’t know how much time I have left on this earth and I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I want my three boys to have a chance at a decent life. I can’t change the course of history, but I can try to be a better person, better husband, better father, and better citizen. I am deeply saddened by the death of my on-line sidekick AWD, but I’m still hopeful for my sons’ future, and I’m going to fight to my last breath to ensure that future. I can’t force others to fight to improve this universe, but I can try to improve my one small corner of that universe.
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ― Aldous Huxley