We got up at 5am this morning in order to catch the early train to London. It brought back memories. We made this trip every week for years. We lived in Paris, but we worked in London.
But those days are gone.
Now, we live mostly in the US but still travel frequently.
Travel is good for people with their eyes open. They see things. Usually, they realise that the world is a bigger, more complex, and more interesting place than they thought. They are humbled by it.
Anyone who thought, for example, that the US was going to create a Western-style democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan should have got out more. If he had he would have replied: “Good luck with that!”
But travel won’t help people with their eyes closed. They only see what they want to see and everything they see confirms their prejudices and delusions. They might as well stay home.
Our recent trip to Israel opened our eyes a bit to the problems in that part of the world. We had got tired of reading about them. Since we were born – which is a while ago – the US press has seemed obsessed with Israel’s concerns. Why not worry about Ghana or Denmark or Uruguay, we wondered.
But now that we’ve seen it up close we realise how fascinating it is. Israel is trying to operate a government in a hostile area with a large part of its own internal population hostile to it. Good luck with that!
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Also, getting out and about gives you a fresh perspective on your own home. You come back and you see things a little differently.
What we see in the US is a lumbering empire, so burdened by excess costs and silly fantasies that it cannot help going broke. It still has enough room to manoeuvre to avoid disaster. But time is short. And now, in the home stretch of a presidential election, neither candidate shows any hint of understanding the problem or having any intention to confront it.
With so many zombies on every street corner and lined up in front of every polling station – government employees, retirees, food stamp recipients, fighter jet manufacturers, chisellers, layabouts, anglers, lawyers, lobbyists – we’re not sure that any presidential candidate would dare take them on. But certainly not Obama or Romney.
As for Obama, well... good luck with that! But what about Romney? He claims to have real business experience, to understand how the economy works. He says his success in the private sector guarantees that he will have success in the public sector too. Is it so?
Here, David Stockman, Reagan’s budget director, looks at the record. He says Romney created ‘debt zombies’: Mitt Romney: The Great Deformer.
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