A Fourth of July remembrance of one boy’s journey to the land of his dreams.
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In 1971, Sam Goldwyn was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the President of the United States.
Tomorrow will be the 236th Fourth of July since the first in 1776. It will be the 223rd Fourth of July since the United States was formed under the Constitution in 1789.
The appalling decision on Obamacare not withstanding, millions of Americans still understand in their bones not only what America was meant to be — but what it can be again.
In 1979, my former boss, the late Jack Kemp, wrote a book called An American Renaissance: A Strategy for the 1980’s. Billed at the time by his publisher as Kemp’s “plan for a return to prosperity,” Kemp quoted from his friend the writer and free-market champion George Gilder. Gilder had summed it up this way in a prescient article for Harper’s in 1978 entitled “Prometheus Bound.” Remember that in 1978 the Jimmy Carter presidency was already marking its depressing mid-point that would set the stage for Ronald Reagan and a rebirth of the American spirit. Neither Kemp nor Gilder, of course, could foresee the election of Reagan and what was to come. But without doubt both men knew their country well, and Gilder’s words as cited back in 1979 are worth recalling this Fourth of July in 2012 in the Age of Obama. Wrote Gilder as quoted by Kemp:
“The most dire and fatal hubris for any leader is to cut his people off from providence, from the miraculous prodigality of chance, by substituting a closed system of human planning. Innovation is always unpredictable, and thus an effect of faith and freedom.
“In the United States today we are facing the usual calculus of impossibility, recited by the familiar aspirants to a master plan. It is said we must abandon economic freedom because our frontier is closed: because our biosphere is strained, because our resources are running out, because our technology is perverse, because our population is dense, because our horizons are closing in. We walk, it is said, in a shadow of death, depleted air, poisoned earth and water, a fallout of explosive growth showering from the clouds of our future in a quiet carcinogenic rain. In this extremity, we cannot afford the luxuries of competition and waste and freedom. We have reached the end of the open road; we are beating against the gates of an occluded frontier. We must tax and regulate and plan, redistribute our wealth and ration our consumption, because we have reached the end of openness.
“But quite to the contrary, these problems and crises are in themselves the new frontier, are themselves the mandate for individual and corporate competition and creativity, are themselves the reason why we cannot afford the consolations of planning and stasis.
“…To many people, the past seems inevitable and the future impossible. History is seen to have arisen not from unpredictable flows of genius and heroism, but more or less inevitably, from preordained patterns of natural resources and population. For those who doubt the decisive role of genius, courage, and chance in history, the future always appears impossible; they can see no way for free nations to escape a fate of decline, decay, and coercion, as their growing populations press against a closing frontier.”
Jack Kemp picked it up from there, closing by saying:
The truth is, no frontier need be closed for long. Yes, the rich, bountiful earth is limited in what it can provide, but there are no natural bounds to the human spirit and its accomplishments, except insofar as we are cramped by human timidity and fear or by human institutions. In the 1980’s, the first decade of the American renaissance, these are the bounds we must pit ourselves against, so it can be said of our nation in our time, “To her, and to her especially, belongs the future.”
Jack Kemp and George Gilder presumably never met Sam Goldwyn, who died a wealthy, fabulously successful old man in 1974. At the age of 95.
But both men — and Kemp’s plan was the basis for the success of “Reaganomics” that produced 21 million jobs in the Reagan-era — surely would have understood the boy Schmuel Gelbfisz had they met him when the sixteen year-old began walking…walking…walking.
Walking out of a past filled with poverty and religious persecution. Walking literally step-by-step-by-step to a dazzling future that would bring a renaissance to his own life — and through his life’s work in movies, wonderfully warm memories to millions. Not to mention jobs to all the thousands of people who made those movies.
Schmuel Gelbfisz was walking because without ever having read the Declaration of Independence he knew — he knew — that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
So Schmuel Gelbfisz would walk to that place.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?