#172 - Response to #171 Civil War

Two weeks ago, I posed the question of whether America was on the verge of a civil conflict that may lead to an internal war. Here is one of the most moving responses I received.


"Benton,

I was in the Marine Corps infantry. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what is worth fighting for now. Why would I lay down my life for the United States of America?

Why would I fight for what exists currently? For cancel culture? For an entrenched bureaucracy? For legalized corruption (aka lobbying)? For big Pharma? For shit food supplies? For a propagandized media? For corporate cultures disconnected from the lives of their employees? For law enforcement that can stop me and harass me or my minority friends for nothing? For the military industrial complex? For a judicial system that ensures justice for those with means but incarcerates insane numbers of the poor? For a foreign policy that does little other than bribe or threaten foreign governments to do what we want them to do? For a medical system that heals (sort of) but bankrupts? For a government that is $30 trillion in debt… that has mortgaged my nephews’ future to ensure it stays in power today? Seriously, what is worth fighting for? Why should we preserve the status quo?

But wait, there’s more… If you strip away all the patriotism and unthinking loyalty, what is the United States? What are “our” values? What does it mean to be American? By negation, what do I share in common with someone from Boston and Lukfin, TX and Indianapolis and Yadkinville, NC and San Francisco and Missoula, MT and Phoenix and Pueblo, Co that I don’t share with someone from Acapulco, Mexico or London or Mumbai, or Ndola, Zambia or Alberta, Canada? The answer isn’t freedom, because most of the world is free (and the US is increasingly unfree). It’s also not language, because English is the language of business in much of the world? What is it?

Almost two centuries ago, Alexis de Tocqueville saw a country of empowered individuals that were willing to take risks, to go against institutions, to go against the odds. It was a country of people building something. America is not that today. Most of the collective effort is to maintain her status as the greatest economy in the world. We’re trying to buy the good, peaceful life instead of creating it. What a sad view of human flourishing.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about."


The current version of America is indeed in need of many structural changes from the decline of the family to population decline to the opioid crisis to economic inequality and more. But that doesn't mean that a different vision isn't worth creating and fighting for. There is a reason why over 1M foreign individuals come to America annually. Personal and Civic Freedoms, better prospects for a quiet life, and the opportunity to work hard unhindered are just a few. My hope is that this vision does not fade from us who have been here our whole lives. The grass is always greener on the other side... until you get there.


Let us not forget, with all of her problems both internally and externally, America is one of, if not the greatest, country in the history of mankind with its technological prowess and advancements, its spiritual diversity, its commitment to democratic ideals and the will of the people, and its unyielding hope for a better future.


Let us also not forget that this state of affairs cannot long remain without the constant renewal of each generation to take up the mantle of freedom, protect individual liberty ferociously, and to do the hard work that remains. America has a lot of hard choices in the coming decades with its debt, its foreign entanglements, and its economic inequality on the home front. But with a dash of optimism and a generation who cares about what America stood for at her founding, no problems are insoluble.


Links:


Data as a service bible - everything you wanted to know about running DAAS companies (Auren Hoffman)


Misconceptions about Russia are a threat to America (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)


Putting ideas into words (Paul Graham)


Hayden Capital Quarterly Letter (Hayden Capital)


Valuation disconnect - opportunities in resources equities (GMO)


DeepMind says its new AI coding engine is as good as an average human programmer (The Verge)


How much do construction costs matter? Some factors that affect the price of housing (Construction Physics)


The lasting legacy of redlining (Five Thirty Eight)


RV Capital's 2021 investor letter (Link)


Natural Gas and Ukraine (Peter Zeihan)


The economics of data businesses (Abraham Thomas)


David Tepper - the king of bouncing back (Neckar)


Buffett's $152B Apple bet, explained (Trung Phan)


Berkshire Hathaway's utility business is a crown jewel (Barron's)

Nomad Investment Partnership Letters - 2001-2014 (Link)