November 4, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES II • Page 17 Has Nagumo’s fleet landed Tojo’s army in Los Angeles? Has Yamamoto showed up at the White House to dictate peace terms? (If he does, it could do us a lot of good to finally have a president whose name ends in a vowel.) Do most Americans remember who these guys were? Most of the e-mail readers shot back that they themselves were not buying American cars because of quality control issues and excessive size and gasoline consumption. Those are two very good reasons not to buy a car. The third good reason is that over-powered guzzlers are destroying the environment by oozing out five times as much carbon monoxide as they need to get you from here to there. It’s like the Gaia Effect – nature correcting itself – on an economic basis. People who are still childish or dense enough to be impressed by huge eight-cylinder gunboats cannot afford them anymore, either because they cannot get credit to make the purchase or because they cannot afford to fill them at the service station. The planet and its atmosphere may be safe, but the planet’s passengers need to do some adjusting. Not everyone needs a big six-passenger car with enough horsepower for Custer’s Last Stand. People who want to stay fit should walk more, and if they really cannot handle that, they should check out the two-seater hybrids and electrics once the kids are out of the house and the bugs are out of the production models. For the hardcore, China is said to be working on a knock-off of a popular SUV that is just as good and sells for half the money. Take the money out of the auto stock and put it into CDs, unless you know somebody in Beijing. Detroit isn’t coming back until they learn to produce hybrids and electrics that last a dozen years and move fast enough for shopping trips. If the kids live in California you can take the train and see how big America really is and how much of it is devoted to agriculture and mining and domestic oil production, it may convince you that we still have a future. Our future, however, is probably not in light manufacturing, or even in medium manufacturing. Not one of the Asian countries seems to be able to build a decent space ship or nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, but they can make clothing at a fraction of what clothing costs in the United States, and electronics and cameras are dead issues. The trickle-down is that as we cease to manufacture, we cease to need quite so many “suits” to sit in offices administering the people who make and ship the stuff. This, in turn, may take the pressure off colleges and the college-prep programs in high schools, geared not to any love of learning but to the concept that a diploma offers a permanent safe job. That is not how it is anymore. America is full of former office workers desperately trying to get into the public sector as teachers or civic administrators whose jobs are subsidized by a government printing press rather than what they actually do. In the new economy, cash is king. We suffered a great deal when the banks decided to give credit to people who weren’t qualified because real estate was always going to go up and up and up 20 percent a year. The aftermath is that credit is really tough even for people with good prospects and clean records. The only way to make the real estate go up is to fix it up, and that is where the new wave of economic winners comes in: people who can “do something” as opposed to studying their way to success. The person who actually produces results, such as fixing the car, making the suit, or cooking a first-class meal, is probably going to remain employable. Those who depended on multiple degrees for paper shuffling jobs may want to go back to school to learn how to make or fix things. Those folks probably get a better night’s sleep knowing they have produced useful goods or helped people who needed service as opposed to the delusion of future affluence. The candidate who gets the vote then is the candidate who advocates a drastic reduction in spending: no wanton firing except for moral or competence issues, but no new hires unless there is a demonstrable need. The fact that the business community cannot support an inventory of superfluous executives does not mean the taxpayers should have to support them. Some of us are honest enough to admit that we can’t support them anymore. We need to explain to the schools that their mission is to train functional, literate citizens and not fulfill fantasies that every kid is going to an Ivy League college. We need to get real. Elections are not going to change much because around here the way-out candidates either don’t run or don’t get elected, and the “reform candidates” generally assimilate so well that in six months they are voting the same as everyone else does. Northwest Bergen, with a few rare exceptions, has generally been spared any really flamboyant corruption in office. Our problem isn’t crooks – it’s basically honest, well-meaning people who think that if they talk loudly enough and long enough, the taxpayers will fund their fantasies. I don’t think that is apt to happen much anymore because the money is not there. People who are blessed or lucky may be able to take care of their own families. Beyond that, it’s touch and go. When you try to touch people for money, they tell you to go – as in away. We cannot vote back the jobs that have been downsized or outsourced. We can adjust to the fact that America is still the greatest country on Earth, but it’s no longer calling the shots in the global economy. Once a year, a handful of voters make it to the polls and vote for whoever is on the ballot. It is right and proper that they do so. However, the idea that they may exert any impact on the future of the nation is a delusion that is harmless or dangerous, depending on the intensity of the international situation or the mendacity of manufacturers in protecting their rights to go on polluting. An informed electorate just might be able to exert some constructive influence for change if there were honest reporters and honest candidates who really care about the community, the state, or the nation instead of getting elected. As I am writing this, I just heard that more Americans were killed in a triple helicopter crash in Afghanistan. The majority of American people disapprove of our attempt to play police in the Middle East. The tragedies these deaths represent to the families and friends of those who were killed, expanding outward in diminishing cycles to people who didn’t know them at all, represent the sterile impact “democracy” has on the lives of those who are brave and strong enough to serve – and the more ordinary people who mourn their passing at a safe distance. People who were gulled into this when it first started -I shudder as I remembering hearing some high school girls exulting about “Bombs over Baghdad” five or six years ago – may never have to pay the price, but the soldiers and marines are paying it right now. They got there, at least in part, because of weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist, and would not have been a threat to the United States if they had existed, and in part because the taxpayers were encouraged to somehow associate Saddam Hussein, a tyrant but not a fundamentalist, with the Sept. 11 attacks, which was not a legitimate link. I talked to some supposedly smart people about this. They professed not to get it. Attacking Iraq because of 9/11 was like attacking Burma to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor. We blundered into this, as we have every other war since 1865, because some of our statesmen were more interested in foreign or corporate patrons than they were in the people they were shipping off to kill and be killed. This particular sort of thing may – we can hope and pray – come to a logical conclusion as more and more countries are able to buy or otherwise obtain nuclear weapons. We have to be willing to sit down and talk to people who might be able to kill a substantial part of our population, and were are not going to be able to pacify the entire Islamic world by ignoring their concerns and claiming they attacked us because they hate our way of life. Read my lips: This isn’t working the way it was supposed to. They don’t hate “our way of life.” They hate the patrons who support some of our politicians. The good news is that people are starting to shake themselves out of bashing other countries. The other day I read an anachronistic take-out on how terrible it was that the Japanese and the South Koreans aren’t buying more American cars. Give me a break. It doesn’t much matter how you vote this year Harvest Fair returns to village Ridgewood’s Old Paramus Reformed Church will hold its 137th Annual Harvest Fair on Saturday, Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the barrier-free Education Building at 660 East Glen Avenue at Route 17. The fair will feature a Garage Sale, one-of-a-kind hand-crafted gifts, gift basket prizes, jewelry, linens, fabric and yarn, a book nook, and attic treasures offering antiques, china, collectibles, and more. A Bake Shoppe and Pantry will sell homemade baked goods and soups, and a produce stand will feature fresh-from-the-orchard apples and more. All are welcome, and admission is free. Country Kitchen refreshments and lunch will be available. For more information, call the church office at (201) 444-5933.