Monday, November 18, 2013

The LuLac Edition #2563, November 18th, 2013



The America of John Kennedy was one of upward mobility and progress. Kennedy was born before the roaring twenties. Like many people of my parent’s age, John Kennedy was formed by events great and small. The Stock Market Crash, the Great Depression, World War II and the aftermath of that conflict.
While given the best of all material goods, John Kennedy had terrible health problems. A lesser man would have packed it in and used his illness as an excuse to live the good life. And people would have given him a pass. But Kennedy carved out a political career for himself that would be like a brief, fiery comet. Kennedy was chosen by a majority of Americans born in the 20th century. He was their standard bearer, he was their leader. He was everything they aspired to be. Kennedy made average Americans feel that he was part of their group, one of them not their commander. Make no mistake he was in charge but gave Americans the confidence that progress was ahead. Americans of that age believed him because they in their own modest ways were better in their position of life than their parents. People today are hard pressed to say that.
When the Kennedy years were taking place, there were around 182 million Americans. Those Americans never heard the word diversity or thought much about it. Life was simple. Starkly put, it was black and white. Blacks were called Negroes. In some places in America, they were treated as inferiors. In other places, they were kept at a distance. While America was an upwardly mobile society, that was primarily for those male, white, educated and willing to work. Welfare was relief. Churches took care of unwed mothers, then the children were shipped to orphanages. There were no “baby Daddies” and the term would be one of shame if it ever was used.
For America, the economy was chugging along at a decent rate but things were started to change. Big business dominated the domestic economy during this time. In 1962 the five largest industrial corporations accounted for over 12 percent of all assets in manufacturing. However, after the successful launching of the space program and Kennedy’s call for more technology, at the time of his death a trend started to develop,. For the rest of the 1960s, housing and computer industry overpowered automobiles, chemicals, and electrically powered consumer durables, which were the leading profit sectors in the 1950s.
Kennedy’s decision to take on the Steel Companies after they reneged on a bargain with the Steel Unions resonated. Kennedy’s admonishment of the minority of Steel Executives who did a corporate double cross and raised prices any way after the union gave concessions was said to be the cornerstone of the Kennedy administration’s success in the mid term elections of 1962. Kennedy also took the bold step of cutting taxes. His actions were quoted by the GOP right years later.

Kennedy had set in motion events that would help America take the lead in technology and finance.
The President started a volunteerism program called The Peace Corps which engaged young Americans to travel to other lands. Briefly, for once in America a young generation was going to a foreign land not with bullets but with books. JFK also took on a nation who might be getting sedentary by starting the President’s Council on Physical fitness.
The America of President John Kennedy was on the upswing. People back then wore suits and dresses to church on Sunday, they believed in God and made sure their kids got better educational opportunities than they did.
But with all of that, there was another side of America. Blacks were treated like second class citizens. In truth there was no equality. Women stayed in the kitchen and if they did work, it was because of economic necessity. And Kennedy in his first two years did little to advance the cause of Civil Rights. Not until the tipping point came in 1963 did Kennedy act. At least he set in motion the events that his successor Lyndon Johnson would complete.
There was abject poverty in this nation of plenty. The President started to address that with economic development programs that barely made a dent. But like the earlier century, there was a feeling we were going forward, not backward.
At the time of his death, John Kennedy’s America was lot like a mid 60s TV sitcom. It was black and white, any problem had a solution that could be solved within 30 minutes and if it didn’t, people put a good face on it. A lesson would be learned and the offending party would never do the bag thing again!
The true tragedy of the Kennedy America of the 1960s is this: we had a President who recognized the problems ahead but just didn’t have the time to finish his plan. Subsequent events were out of his hands due to his death so the Kennedy legacy, social and economic is what might have been. The America of Kennedy at the time of his death had no answers to the problems but at least there was recognition that they existed. And by God this was America and no one could ever derail us! Right?
No one thought that a mighty nation of missiles and multi billion space technology would have to contend with a middling random purchase of a $21.95 mail order hunting rifle and its consequences.


At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece. Hope to see more this week.

At 7:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I often wonder what if a Kennedy like person had taken the office of president today. Right person for the right time period worked out well in his instance. But 50 years later, I give serious thought if the same results would be able to occur. These times seem so much different and difficult in today's society and in the political arena. I'm not a fan of Barack, but I wonder if anyone would be able to get anything accomplished in todays circumstances.

At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually think that the rifle was only $12.95.

With all of the talk about that mail order rifle this past week, I would not be surprised to see the NRA attempt to bring back mail ordering of firearms...and of course, the GOP majority in the House would heartily agree.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Coal Region Voice said...

Powerful last paragraph.

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw online where Michelle Bachman claims to have lost her Healthcare!
I believe that about as much as I ever believed anything else she ever said! Good grief!


At 6:35 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

I actually think that the rifle was only $12.95.


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