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Will the next generation be able to say they’re better off?

I have seen the past. I have seen the future.

On Saturday night I attended the 45th reunion of my high school. On Sunday afternoon I was at a high school graduation party for my nephew.

The Class of ’65 was the child of veterans of World War II and the grandchild of the survivors of the Great Depression. We saw everyone get indoor plumbing, a universal electric grid, tract homes, television sets in every home and two cars under every car port. We were given every opportunity and told our generation would be better off than the previous. It has been.

I visited Saturday night with people who were retired, people in the communications business, people who’d worked the same job for 40 years, people who were veterans, people successful and just getting by.

Some looked little different than they did the day of high school graduation from Bridgeport High in Wise County, Texas. The rest of us tended to be paunch and gray. There were the obligatory photos of the dozen or so no longer with us. We talked about our basketball and baseball prowess, our grandchildren and even greatgrandchildren, and politics, mostly conservative. Many still worked in the oil and gas industry where many of us worked summers as roustabouts. Some got filthy rich in the grease orchard, but most just got filthy.

The emcee was a fellow hellion who nearly got kicked out of speech class because of his stammering. He had since become a Baptist preacher in a nearby town. The brother of a close friend was now the sheriff. One classmate is raising longhorns.

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 Women’s and an Ivy League school or two.

What future have we left for them? Widespread youth unemployment, crushing debt and unfunded liabilities, a daunting tax burden, homegrown jihadists, an attitude that has replaced our parents’ concept of rights with the presumption that everything requires a permit, everything needs to be regulated lest some ill befall someone, somewhere.

Will this generation be better off than the previous one? What will their 45th reunion be like? I hope someone will be raising longhorns.

At the Lazy C in Wise County, Texas.

 

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