America, at Last the Land of Can-Do
Hordes poured in over the border – men mostly, but women and children as well. Rape and pillaging and murder followed wherever they went, though most of the invaders were peaceable. The nation's prosperity rapidly diminished. The commander-in-chief ordered a wall built to stop the invasion. And so it was done. Across an entire continent, from the Black Sea to the Irish Sea, Emperor Hadrian's Limes was constructed. The Roman Empire once more regained its peace and prosperity.
Hordes poured in over the border, rape and pillaging and murder, the nation's prosperity rapidly diminished. And so, from the China Sea to the Mongolian steppes, a Great Wall was constructed. China once more regained its peace and prosperity.
Hordes poured in over the border, and the senatorial class ordered a wall to be built to stop the invasion. It can't be done, said the critics. It's not feasible. It is beyond our capacity. It would take too long and cost too much. A cynical commander-in-chief saw political advantage in the invasion and canceled the wall.
A new commander-in-chief now proclaims that the wall will be built – a long wall. This time it will be done. Why? Because the nation's survival depends on it. And because building it is such a trivial effort for this great nation. It is simply a matter of having the will to do it.
To understand why it is such a small thing you must consider the enormous scale of our civilization.
How do we get a grip on this scale? We might quote numbers such as 2016's Gross Domestic Product: about $18 trillion. Or our debt: $19.5 trillion. These numbers only hint at the truly gigantic scale of what takes place each year in this great nation.
What does our economy represent in terms of material goods and services? A good example is provided by the Second World War. During that conflict, we gained a direct measure of the capabilities of our nation. Our population then was less than half of what it is today. Our economy was proportionately even smaller. Yet that much smaller population, and still smaller economy, sent great armies around the world. These tens of millions of men were supplied like no other army in history. German POWs were amazed to find that frontline GIs were receiving fresh-baked chocolate cakes sent by their loved ones across the Atlantic ocean.
We were in the war for only three and a half years. Our industry in that short time produced industrial miracles: more than 5,000 cargo ships, with four cargo ships a day being launched; 124 aircraft carriers (we started the war with just eight) and 1,200 other major warships; 200,000 combat aircraft together with 100,000 support aircraft; 100,000 armored vehicles and 2.5 million trucks of all sizes; millions of rifles and machine guns and millions of rounds of artillery ammunition. In a matter of months we built factories in the thousands to produce all this.
In the 1940s, we called this can-do.
And let us not forget the Manhattan Project, started almost from scratch in terms of knowledge. In four short years, it developed the war-ending atomic bombs. Just as impressively, the project also built three complete cities together with enormous high-tech production facilities.
Despite all that war effort, the civilian economy still flourished. People remained reasonably comfortable, although there were some shortages. It is a tribute to what this nation of free people can do if we really want to.
A more modern example of large-scale achievement is the Apollo program. In seven years, this nation put Americans on the Moon. Having been involved, I can attest that the program was gigantic. And yet the economy hardly felt the impact.
This discussion started with a wall. It can't be done, say some. But a secure border wall is little more than a road with two fences. Today, the United States has 3.9 million miles of road. Each year we construct 317,000 miles of paved roads. Building a 2,000-mile single-lane fenced road along the border is small potatoes. The no-can-do crowd is just plain silly – or stupid, if you prefer.
The real issue here is not the physical. It is what lies behind the physical that is really important. In the Second World War, most of our achievement came from human capital. Factories and their machinery are useless without the know-how to usefully employ them. The skills of the factory workers were the key ingredient to our war effort. But at the beginning of the war, few people had the needed skills. By the end of the war, most homeland citizens, women as well as men, had mastered the skills – the human capital.
This was possible precisely because we are a free people. As free people, we are remarkably adaptable.
Free people have characteristics rarely found in most cultures. In our land, we are, as individuals, free to explore and to develop the skills we choose. Nobody tells us we can't. This means we are well practiced in adaptation. Show us how to do something, and we quickly learn to do it well.
World War Two provides examples from the battlefront of just how adaptable free individuals truly are. German POWs marveled at our ability to keep our tanks, trucks, and jeeps going, despite the horrendous physical environment. These prisoners couldn't understand how ordinary GIs could repair a broken vehicle on the spot. In the Wehrmacht, a broken down vehicle was almost always abandoned. But GIs grew up playing with machinery and were not intimidated by it. We had reserves of human capital. They didn't.
For the past eight years, and more, a spell of gloom has been cast over the nation. The cult of can't has fostered this demoralization. The Progressive left, for years in control of our institutions, has deliberately bound us in ever tightening chains of regulations and taxes and economic depression. These people may call themselves liberal, but in truth they are the opposite. They mean to control us, to inhibit us, to make us submit to their bullying – to their political correctness.
Many now have rebelled against the spell of gloom – thus the amazing recent election. President Trump was the first major political figure to recognize the problem and to seek to break the spell. That is the secret of his election. We may be entering a period of renewed prosperity and a renewed American spirit. It is up to us, the citizens of this great nation, to further cast off the spell of gloom and regain the sense of liberty that makes this the most productive and adaptable and freest land the world has ever seen. Let us, once again, be the land of can-do.