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The Smartest People in the Room?
This past weekend my beautiful bride informed me that she wanted to explore a new indoor flea market that had been established in our neck of the woods. She also informed me that I was going to accompany her on said excursion.
Now for the benefit of our younger, less experienced and worldly-wise male readers, I will share a useful safety tip. Or more accurately, a tip for your personal safety. If your spouse, fiancée, significant other, or girlfriend makes such an announcement you should recognize that it is not merely an announcement. It is, in actuality, an ultimatum. As an older, if not necessarily wiser head, I would strongly recommend a simple two-word retort to such an ultimatum: "Yes, Dear". Although I have digressed, trust me on this.
So off we went, following the ancient cow paths of upper New York State that have been given numbers to replace names and are now referred to as highways, until we reached this new flea market.
We wandered down the aisles, glancing from time to time at some trinket, bauble, or gadget that was on sale in the scores of booths manned by the vendors themselves for about forty-five minutes when I was suddenly struck by the fact that even though those of us who write for American Thinker, as well as those who write for the scores of other alternative media sites obsess about the fiscal cliff, recriminations over the November setback, or the Benghazi debacle, as well as other subjects that involve Washington, the rest of America is still top filled with people who still believe, and are acting on, the dream that once was the core of America.
As I walked past dozens of these flea market stalls, it impressed itself upon me that each one was begun, staffed, and operated by embryonic entrepreneurs. Each and every one of these people had invested (in the correct usage of the term) their own money and time to get a small business off the ground. Even though there were likely to be no "employees" in any of these miniscule businesses, there were often two or three people in evidence, cheerfully and enthusiastically trying to convince passersby by that their offerings were certainly worth a second look and were absolutely worth their stated value. I would imagine that few, if any, of these businesses will grow into the next Microsoft. But then there were few who would have imagined a small computer company started in a garage would have become the Apple Corporation that we see today.
The potential success of any of these individuals was not what I found so impressive. It was the fact that they were all believers in the American dream: success, independence, freedom, and self-reliance. None of them, I am sure, got any "stimulus" funds to start up their little enterprises. None of them came from monied families, so they will probably never have to worry about being accused of creating a new Bain Capital.
On the other hand, not a single one of them will ever believe that if they are successful, they didn't create their own success.
And what made it even better for me was the range of things being sold. In addition to the kitschy knickknacks common to every flea market in the country, we saw handcrafted items of remarkable skill, there were fresh and canned fruits, vegetables, farm fresh eggs, baked goods and so on. A surprisingly broad array of available products.
Even more conclusively American were the vendors for each enterprise. These mini-businesses were owned and operated by men, women, blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, people from the Indian subcontinent, immigrants and native born peoples, younger people just out of their teens, and people who just couldn't stand being retired and had to find something to work at. And they worked not only as lone wolves, but in cooperation with the others of their little community of businesses. I saw many interactions where one vendor would ask another nearby to "watch my stall for a minute" while they went for coffee, or perhaps to have a cigarette. Race, ethnic origin, level of success was not an issue. They all shared the same dream, and with that sharing, it worked well.
These people weren't welfare queens or slackers. These were people who needed to work, and not simply for the money. They weren't getting a paycheck and benefits from an employer. These people were taking a risk with their own money and their own time to do what they wanted to do: to work. To live free and be independent. They viewed every single sale as a personal victory, at least judging from the looks on their faces.
Sadly, I doubt that had our political leaders walked next to me that day they would have seen the same thing, most especially our President. This little flea market illustrated both the essential strengths of America as a nation and of Americans as a people. Not whites, not blacks, not Asians, not Hispanics, not "youth", not senior citizens, not immigrants, not single women or blue collar men. Not one of those groupings was evident that day. Just a single group that individually recognized themselves as Americans.
Apparently the denizens of Washington don't understand either America or Americans. Maybe they really aren't the smartest people in the room.
I may not be the smartest guy in the room either. No, on second thought, there's no "may" about it. But I at least understood what I was seeing, and regardless of the professional doomsayers at the New York Times, or the Washington Post or the alphabet broadcast network talking heads, I was filled with hope for the future, so long as our government gets out of the way and allows Americans to actually be Americans.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter. Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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