Omaha Beach that is. I just returned from a trip to France. On the flight over I sat next to a veteran of the Omaha Beach War. He was stationed in Germany at the time. We got to talking and he laid bare his views about where he though the US was headed. It’s a sentiment shared by many of his generation. He’s disillusioned.
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He’s a soldier who sacrificed for his country. His father served in World War II. This wasn’t the future he anticipated for his kids. We talked about the deficits, the out of control government spending, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those are all topics du jour. What we spent most of our time talking about though was the loss of civility in American society today. Everyone seems to be angry at something. And, if they’re not angry, they’re paranoid. News is no longer news, it’s gossip and entertainment. He longed for the days of a straight shooter like Walter Cronkite.
We talked about the welfare state, the age of entitlement, a nation no longer willing to lead through education and hard work. We’ve become our own worst nightmare, beholden to a body politic that has an unquenchable thirst for power. I pondered this further after spending a day at Omaha Beach in Normandy. At the cemetery there lay tributes to more than 9,000 American soldiers buried after the invasion. A quick visit to Pointe du Hoc revealed a landscaped pock marked with massive craters caused by the shelling from the ships sitting offshore. What did these soldiers die for? What did they fight for? Was it the corrupt, inept system that we are stuck with today? Did they have a sense of entitlement?
The answers are a resolute NO!
Somehow the message of freedom and independence has now been lost to a sound bite. The politicians are great at using lines like “the land of the free” etc. in their stump speeches, but what are they doing to change policies and politics to make the country free once more?
Free from debt, free from mistrust of one another, free from the corrupt practices that permeate Washington DC and just about every other State Capitol. The answer is nothing. We have given them power over our lives, power to tax at will, to create programs that are unsustainable. This absolute power they have is borne of weakness on our part to elect the right people to power and not just those who say the right things. We don’t push for term limits, for spending limits by PACs and lobbyists. Instead we sit and wait, hoping that they’ll do the right thing. Imagine if that was the case in June 1944 – imagine if our leaders then had just waited to see “what happened” instead of taking action. This world would be a far worse place. In less than two weeks you will have the opportunity to make your voice heard – use that opportunity and make things happen!
New Highs, Stupid Remarks
The market’s on the verge of hitting new 52-week highs. Almost every sector except the financials is participating. Gold set new highs, tech stocks are screaming, commodity shares and prices are flying as well.
That wall of worry I wrote about recently is beginning to crumble. That’s not a good thing. The Volatility Index is within five or six points of signaling a top in the market, or at least a long pause. Earnings season has begun and companies are showing better than expected numbers. Of course, the economy is better than this time last year. But, will it continue? Well, many companies are still gun shy when it comes to looking forward. That does not bode well for the economy. The problem is still job creation and there just isn’t any being created right now. When we see an up tick in employment numbers, we’ll look back to this month and know that the move was for real. Right now this could be nothing more than a bull rally in a bear market.
Late last week Treasury Secretary Geithner commented that he favored a strong dollar and the US would support one. I guess he got a call from the Japanese Finance minister whose days are likely numbers. The yen is at levels not seen for more than a decade, and for an export driven economy like Japan, that is bad news. Well, I don’t think the Japanese are in luck this time. Geithner can talk up the dollar all he wants, but like the Emperor who had no clothes, Mr. Geithner is paying lip service in a situation that is already out of control. Maybe he missed Fed Chairman Bernanke’s comments…he thinks we need to print more money. I would bet on Bernanke…he’s got control of the presses.
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