I saw the past and glimpsed the future.
A week ago I attended the 45th reunion of my high school class. The next day there was a high school graduation party for my nephew.
The Class of 65 was the child of World War II and the grandchild of the Great Depression. We saw everyone get indoor plumbing, a universal electric grid, affordable tract homes, television sets in every home, two cars under every car port and the advent of the Internet and cell phones. We were given every opportunity and told our generation would be better off than our parents. We have been.
I visited Saturday night with people who were retired, a welder, a maintenance foreman who has worked for the same company for 42 years, a salesman the successful and those just getting by.
Some looked little different than they did the day of graduation from Bridgeport High in Wise County, Texas. The rest of us tended to paunch and gray. There were photos of the dozen or so no longer with us. We talked about our sports prowess or lack thereof, our grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. We talked politics. A few still work in oil and gas, where many of us worked summers as roustabouts. Some got filthy rich in the grease orchard, most just filthy.
The emcee was a fellow hellion who nearly got kicked out of speech class because of his stammering. He is now a Baptist preacher in a nearby town.
One classmate has taken to raising longhorns. He and his wife showed a couple of us around the spread. Two calves were in a pen being weaned. A steer with a majestic 74-inch horn span nonchalantly watched us drive by. Some cows were nursing calves.
They use the crowding chute for artificial insemination, and some cows are taken for in vitro fertilization. The operation is so high-tech they dont even own a longhorn bull. They buy bull by the shot.
But they still need to know when the cows are in heat. For that they use a gomer a surgically altered bull. Still interested, not capable.
On Sunday, over in Denton County, my Eagle Scout, band member, Aggieland-bound nephew played in the pool with his brother and classmates all clean-cut, polite kids with plans to go to Texas Tech, Oklahoma University, Texas Womens and an Ivy League school or two. Most were in the two-time state champion marching band. They know competition.
What does the future hold for this Class of 2010?
For those under 25 the unemployment rate is nearly 20 percent. The federal debt is $13 trillion and growing. The nations unfunded liabilities for various entitlement programs/Ponzi schemes stands at $109 trillion. No tax rate is high enough to sustain it. The cap and trade proposal and all the renewable energy tax subsidies will cause electricity bills, as President Obama put it, to skyrocket. We have foreign and homegrown jihadists. No one wants to tackle illegal immigration. Where once there were 18 wage-earning workers to support each Social Security recipient, soon there will be only two. Im not sure how many of them know this since few keep up with the news.
If I were to stand before the Class of 2010 at commencement, I would note that this nation once stood for liberty and individual rights. Now the attitude is: You need a permit for that.
Id quote Thomas Jefferson on the need to stay informed of current events and William Graham Sumners The Forgotten Man on how society works: A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D. C is the Forgotten Man, the productive man, the competitive man who sacrifices his labor and inventiveness to support the idle.
Those people in Washington are not our rulers. They are our representatives, I would say.
Speaking of representatives, Id say, you had no part in that massive debt you are being asked to pay. You were not born when it was spent. This country fought a revolution over No taxation without representation. You werent represented.
What are you going to do about it?
Finally, dear Class of 2010, I have no idea what your 45th high school reunion will be like. I hope some of you will have the wherewithal to be raising majestic longhorns on lush pastures. But, no matter what else you may do in this life, dont let A and B tell you what you must do for D and, for heavens sake, dont let them turn you into political and economic gomers.
Thomas Mitchell is editor of the Review-Journal and writes about the role of the press and access to public information. He may be contacted at 383-0261 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Read his blog at lvrj.com/blogs/mitchell.