Pierre Trudeau once said, in reference to our American neighbours, “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”
Certainly, along with many other things, we share a financial bed. When the elephant rolls in a wakeful night, we will feel it.
The US heads toward an election this November, and the number one concern in the Obama-Romney choice for president is which man can solve their economic woes. Neither candidate seems to possess magical answers. There’s a reason for this: there are no magical answers. The US is in the most difficult financial situation in its history, one not likely to be repaired by just tweaking and tinkering. While Canada holds an enviable position in a shaky economic world, we are certainly not immune to the US plight, and we will feel the effects of their struggle more than we will feel that of the European community.
It’s hard for us to appreciate the US debt situation. No doubt the man on the street identifies economic trouble mainly by the loss of his job or that of his neighbour, or by the escalating cost of buying gas or groceries. Curiously, fingers point at Europe and its debt crises, and attention seems to be diverted from the US mess. Perhaps the world has developed such a belief in America as a “superpower” that they scrounge up faith that somehow, miraculously, Americans will easily find their way out of this jam. Continue reading
Like most people in at least Canada and the US, I watched with interest the lead-up to Nik Wallenda’s walk across Niagara Falls. Since the actual walk was scheduled for 11:00 pm, and I figured there would be a lot of preamble, I opted for bed and checking in the morning.
I don’t know if I would have been more enticed to watch had he not been dragging a rolling box connecting him securely to the almost two inch steel cable. His worst-case scenario was that he would fall off the wire and end up dangling about five feet below it until they managed to pull him off, perhaps with the aid of a helicopter. That would have been embarrassing, but not fatal to more than his pride.
The tether was apparently mandated by his main sponsor, the ABC Network. They indicated they didn’t want responsibility for any mishap.
I’ve been told that Wallenda kneeled once along the way, but other than that performed no unusual acts on the wire, and finished the walk in about half the expected time. Looking at the news reports the next morning, I had to feel it was a bit of a non-event. Skill was certainly there, but for a Wallenda a bit of routine work. Though I would doubt I could make more than ten feet down the wire, I might have been willing to give it a try myself (for significant compensation), knowing that at the worst I would fall off a few feet and dangle until rescue.
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Bob Dylan wrote The Times They Are a’Changin’ in 1963, and it became the archetypical protest song and a rallying call for a generation. It drew on some older Irish and Scottish songs, and even got inspiration from Ecclesiastes and the Gospel of Mark (“the first shall be last”). Dylan wasn’t sure himself if it was the right song for the time. (It’s comforting to find that sometimes even he didn’t understand his songs.) For the youth of the time, however, it spoke to their feelings about Big Government, Big Business, and Big Control by parents. This would all change. The world was going to be different. They would see to it.
A month later, JFK was assassinated, and in the next few years, the US got more firmly involved in the Vietnam War. They couldn’t count on government. Things were ripe for change. Things needed to change. Students started protests. Marches were held, thousands strong. The Civil Rights Movement was underway. We Shall Overcome.
So what happened? Continue reading