About Brexit and the British.. And How We are NOT Like Them

2016-07-19_15-09-10.png241 years ago we were part of the Great British Empire. We were loyal, although complaining, citizens. Then we chose to go our own way and eventually after a four year rebellion got our way. We still have common bonds with GB but we are also markedly different. One of the major differences is that we are a nation of immigrants and Great Britain is a nation embedded in aristocracy.

We until recently have a classless nation. We don’t hold people in higher esteem just because of what name they have. America became known as the land of opportunity. A place where anyone with the right opportunities and drive could make their fortunes.  I say until recently because since the 1980s, I always like to put the blame on the Reagan administration, we simply did not allow massive fortunes to flow from one generation to another.  For the super-rich inheritance taxes were often 90% or more.

In the last one hundred years, but especially the last thirty, wealth began to flow  with very little taxes from one generation to another. That results in people like Paris Hilton getting massive fortunes from their great grand parents. That fact separates us into the “haves” and the “have nots”. Paris has never known what it is like not to get her every whim and wish fulfilled with no effort on her part.  Unlike Britain we don’t put perpetual titles on our gifted.

Getting to the point of this post, many people fear that since GB chose to exit the European union that it might be a signal that we will also do something radical such as electing and egomaniac narcissist anti-immigrant person as our president. Given that we are a nation of immigrant and the most part unprivileged  that is not likely.  Of course this election will test that theory to the max. It all depends on turnout. Presidential election turnouts have typically been in the mid-50% range. That is, only about half of us bother to show up at the polls.  We are perhaps the worst in established democracies in that regard.

It will soon come to a point that the majority of us in the U.S. will no longer be WASPs. Over 40% of us claim heritage of a different nature.  Whereas Britain is still very much entwined with a whites only society. It has been pretty well established that immigration was one of the primary reasons for the Brexit vote.  The well established citizens could see the “British way of life” changing too quickly for them and because they are still a significant majority they were able to say “no more immigrants”.

The ethnic diversity of the U.S. is unique in all of the world. It has allowed us to empathize with oppressed countries around the globe and as the plaque on the Statue of Liberty says  we don’t put a monetary or class requirement on those who want to come to join us.

NYC Sunset

New York City – Sunset

The World Trade Center will be forever etched into the heart of America.  I had the pleasure of visiting there on a few occasions. This picture was taken from there on a January evening in 1999. The Statue Of Liberty is in the harbor.

Lady Liberty…

Statue of Liberty, NJ – Liberty State Park

I guess it is about time I included this one in my search of America. It has become endemic of what it means to be American. Of course the famous words are:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These words are from a poem by Emma Lazarus who was a quintessential New Yorker.

Visiting NYC

Me in NYCJanuary 1999 — That’s me looking out at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from Battery Park in Manhattan. My wife and I had just finished a wedding anniversary dinner at Windows on the World at the WTC.   It was the last time we were there.