To celebrate my 50th and 60th birthdays I took my ST-1100 and did a 4 corners ride. You leave home and go to the southernmost city in Florida (Key West) to the southernmost city in California (San Ysidro) to the northernmost city in Washington (Blaine) to the northernmost city in Maine (Madawaska) and go home. Not only are you struck by the beauty of the country and just how massive it is, you are also struck by the differences in the people. The first thing you notice is that at every stop in the south and the southwest, someone would ask you where were you from and where you were going. The second stop for gas was in Enoree, SC. At the gas station, a man asked me “long trip or short trip”? I said “long trip” and told him about the 4 corners. He went inside to pay and when he came out he said “be safe”. When I went inside the woman behind the counter said “You are going around the country?” I told her yes. She said “it must be expensive living in all those hotels”. I said that most of the time I would stay with friends. She said “You mean you know people all over the country?" She shook her head and said “I don’t know anyone outside of Enoree.” When I rode off, I looked back and she had her face pressed up against the window. However, from California through the northwest, upper midwest and Canada no one even spoke to me. I was expecting the cold shoulder from those in Maine but they were as open and friendly as southerners. When I got back someone asked what was my lasting impression of the trip. After thinking about all the different people, I wondered why we are not Bosnia? What binds us Americans together? We are so different. I truly felt like an alien after leaving Texas, into California and through New England (but not including Maine) and New York. The upper far west was weird. Imagine speaking to people and being ignored. Imagine not being served at a restaurant in South Dakota (was it because of my color or because they didn’t like motorcyclists?). The only thing that we obviously have in common is our nationality. Why is that enough? Or is it enough? During the presidential campaign there was a guest column in JazzTimes that linked jazz to liberal causes and listed the left's favorite heroes - murderers all (Che, Mao and the like). The author pleaded for the election of Obama because he said it would heal all of the divisions created by George Bush. I replied and said that I bet him that the election of Obama would cause greater divisions than had existed during Bush. It would be because the divisions he felt were only felt by the far left fringe while an Obama administration would alienate not only the far right fringe but everyday mainstream Americans. I won the bet but he has yet to pay (typical of his ilk). My worry is that Obama is causing such a rift that we may be in danger of becoming Bosnia. I can envision the less liberal states resisting the additional federal mandates to support socialized medicine, the destructive cap and trade legislation, card check, and all the rest of the Obama agenda. They realize that they are simply subsidizing New York and California. The suit of the AGs against the feds over healthcare may only be the beginning. There is even serious talk of succession by those who are not loons. I am starting to conclude that whatever it is that has linked us together despite our differences is now being threatened. It is not a good feeling. Hopefully, we will once again be united in what unites us (freedom, individual liberty, free markets, the profit motive, individual responsibility) and keep Bosnia at bay.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com