“That hat is real white fox,” one told me. “I probably wore that one. The costumes for each girl cost $10,000 when Lido de Paris opened” -- the 1978 incarnation, that is -- “and that was in 1978 dollars.”
I understand the economics of the city that continually reinvents itself, really. Rooms in the Rat Pack-era hotels were cramped by today’s standards, and the old elevator banks have a hard time clearing all the conventioneers at the same time. The value of that real estate goes up and up -- acres of ground-level parking are a silly use of space.
But I also wonder if some of the old-timers wouldn’t have hedged their bets, trying to hang onto some of those middle-class bargain hunters who were willing to play all day for a comp dinner or eat at 5 a.m. to get “the cheapest steak in town.”
The Stardust will be replaced with another $4 billion upscale “integrated project” called Echelon Place -- hotel, casino, convention center -- probably the Thurston Howell the Third yacht basin if they can figure out how.
Will there always be this many twenty-somethings able to drop $200 apiece on trendy brand-name nouvelle cuisine and 10 times that on an evening at one of these throbbing new nightspots? Where do they all come from? Is America now truly recession proof?
A few loyal readers noticed the absence of this dispatch for a few weeks last month. Your concern is appreciated.
In my dotage, I have resolved to depart these climes for a couple of weeks from time to time, working on new books. I would apologize for allowing the republic to drift into error in my absence, but it seems to drift there just fine whether I run about shrieking shrill alarms or no.
There is, I still believe, some moral obligation to point out that the fiat currency will eventually collapse; that freedom cannot long prosper when the majority of Americans have been so mis-educated in the government youth camps as to express puzzlement as to why we’d even WANT a government of limited powers; that high school graduates now regularly write in, asking advice on how to pursue the journalistic career to which they believe themselves called, signing their e-mails, “Hoping to here from you.”
Once or twice.
Beyond that, the sputterings of those who remember a day when no one expressed the slightest alarm at seeing teen-agers take their .22s to school and leave them in the principal’s office pending the afternoon’s rifle competition probably lose their amusement value fairly fast.
The point of the above is not that “we were a more rural society” (I took my rifle to school in Connecticut and Massachusetts) but that 14-year-olds used to be treated as responsible almost-adults, and responded by acting as though we deserved such confidence, most of the time. Today we don’t even treat adults as though they’re responsible adults.
If you don’t allow people to make mistakes and learn from them, the internalization of that parental voice that says, “Think, now. What could go really, really wrong if you do this?” simply never occurs. You end up with an infantilized population voting for “more free stuff and make someone else pay,” and a whole lot of police running around inciting armed confrontations over such matters as non-seatbelt-wearing and pot-smoking and tobacco in restaurants and carrying guns.
From time to time, people of rich and diverse ancient cultures express a desire to come here and share their cultures with us, cutting off our heads with swords if we fail to express a proper appreciation for the favor.
This is not an ancient history lesson -- my dad can still remember a time when Japanese officers were cutting off a lot of barbarian heads that looked not so different from yours or mine and Aunt Peggy’s, and today in the Middle East there exist millions of people who profess faith in a religion whose main book teaches them to convert everyone to Islam, by force if necessary. Many of these people, lest the point be lost, are cutting the heads off Christian missionaries and the like (or cheering about it). With swords. A lot. This year.
Such folk will not be dissuaded by appeals to the historical efficacy of freedom in generating wealth, happiness, and indoor plumbing. They are dissuaded by one thing, primarily: .30-caliber bullets, in the hands of people who know how to use them.
A few years ago, my father’s last surviving brother died. I had known Uncle Frank as a genial, diminutive fellow who loved working in his garden.
Before Frank died, my dad thanked him for taking a big chunk of one of his first paychecks, back in the days of the Great Depression when people still expected to have to work and save and pay for things they wanted, and handing it to his younger brother, so my dad could go to the dentist and have his teeth fixed.
Frank did not even remember having done that.
Only after Frank died did my father mention that, while stationed in New Guinea during the Second World War, Uncle Frank had won some fairly impressive military decorations.
That smiling, gentle little fellow? In a part of the Pacific theater where I’d never heard of any major battles? What could Uncle Frank possibly have done to win medals?
From time to time, it seems, Uncle Frank would take his .30-06 rifle and journey out into the jungle, to do what he figured he’d been sent there to do.
Frank killed a lot of Japs.
The editor’s hand hovers over the page. Surely there’s a way to re-phrase that so as to be more politically correct, less likely to offend Japanese-Americans (the internment of whose parents and grand-parents, by order of those “liberal” icons Frankin Roosevelt and Earl Warren, was unconstitutional, unnecessary, and wrong) or even our current leading Asian trading partners.
But such bowdlerization, such cleaning up and perfuming of the reality that foreigners have massacred thousands of Americans in our own lifetimes, quite purposely, and only stopped when we sent men who knew how to shoot a rifle to kill a whole bunch of them in turn, is the problem.
You cannot bestow upon your children or grandchildren a world without guns. Your two choices are: a world in which they are trusted and encouraged to own guns and keep them ready to hand and know how and when to use them, or a world in which they are disarmed and the guns are in the hands of some other class or race of people who tell them what to do.
You cannot bestow upon your children or grandchildren a world in which people do not make tragic or pathetic mistakes. Your two choices are: a world in which people are allowed to suffer the consequences of their mistakes and thus learn from them, or a world in which such mistakes are encouraged and subsidized and thus multiplied by government “programs” which reward behaviors that -- outside of any such lifetime collectivist incubator -- would bring about hunger and homelessness and other bitter ramifications which quickly teach 99 percent of people to straighten up and fly right.
The alternative approach -- beneficent socialism and the destruction of individual freedom and property rights -- is wonderful except for the part where it doesn’t work, creating such disincentives for savings, work, investment and other responsible behaviors that whole peoples sink into sloth, lethargy, hopelessness, and starvation.
Other than that, good try.
Next week: Federalism was supposed to allow the 50 states to try 50 different ways to profit and prosper from freedom. So why do we now allow the Goldilock redistributionists to tell us we should be ashamed if our state rankings on all their sundry socialist spending charts aren’t “just right”?