Voyages and Voyagers

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Well, the Alabamans are electing their new Senator. I’ll be surprised if it’s much of a surprise, but that’s why they have the election.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and was listening to BBC Norfolk, as I usually do. The call-in show was discussing whether they should allow Trump to make a state visit. The host obviously (although I doubt he thought it obvious) favored not allowing it. I was surprised though, by the time I went back to sleep about five people had called in, all favored the visit, and several vociferously called out his obvious bias. Frustrated indeed, was he, and yes, it was a joy to hear.

The other day, you may have heard, NASA fired a secondary set of thrusters on Voyager 1. Yes, they worked perfectly. But let’s think a bit here. Voyager 1 and 2 launched in 1977, the year Star Wars came out. Voyager 1 is about 13 billion miles away now, well out of our solar system, it took 19½ hours to find out if the commands worked.

NASA back in the day was one of the glories of America and this is why, they simply did things right. Not cheap (even if built by the lowest bidder) they built for the ages and now the stuff simply works.

And now, I hear that President Trump has told NASA to prepare to return to the moon in order to mount a mission to Mars. I’m skeptical but pleased, remembering how it pulled us together in the sixties, so we’ll see.

You know overall, having him as President sort of reminds me of what Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian said back in 1972.

The United States dollar took another pounding on German, French, and British exchanges this morning, hitting the lowest point ever known in West Germany. It has declined there by 41% since 1971, and this Canadian thinks it’s time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous, and possibly the least-appreciated, people in all the world.

As long as sixty years ago, when I first started to read newspapers, I read of floods on the Yellow River and the Yangtze. Well who rushed in with men and money to help? The Americans did, that’s who.

They have helped control floods on the Nile, the Amazon, the Ganges, and the Niger. Today, the rich bottom land of the Mississippi is under water and no foreign land has sent a dollar to help. Germany, Japan, and to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy, were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of those countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. And I was there — I saw that. When distant cities are hit by earthquake, it’s the United States that hurries into help. Managua, Nicaragua, is one of the most recent examples.

So far this spring, fifty-nine American communities have been flattened by tornadoes. Nobody has helped.

The Marshall Plan, the Truman Policy, all pumped billions upon billions of dollars into discouraged countries. And now, newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, war-mongering Americans.

Now, I’d like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplanes. Come on now, you, let’s hear it. Does any country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tristar, or the Douglas 10? If so, why don’t they fly them? Why do all international lines except Russia fly American planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or a woman on the moon?

You talk about Japanese technocracy and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy and you find men on the moon, not once, but several times, and, safely home again. You talk about scandals and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even the draft dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They’re right here on our streets in Toronto. Most of them, unless they’re breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from Ma and Pa at home to spend up here.

When the Americans get out of this bind — as they will — who could blame them if they said “the hell with the rest of the world. Let somebody else buy the bonds. Let somebody else build or repair foreign dams, or design foreign buildings that won’t shake apart in earthquakes.” When the railways of France and Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both of ’em are still broke.

I can name to you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name to me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I’m one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them kicked around. They’ll come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they’re entitled to thumb their noses at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of these. But there are many smug, self-righteous Canadians.

And finally, the American Red Cross was told at its 48th annual meeting in New Orleans this morning that it was broke.

This year’s disasters — with the year less than half-over — has taken it all. And nobody, but nobody, has helped.

As I write this California is burning, and fighting it is a huge effort. It is an American effort, as it always is. But not quite, there’s bunch of very brave men out there, who came to help, all the way from Australia. Friends indeed, as they always have been.

But the others should be a bit cautious, perhaps. As the Marines are wont to say, “No better friend, no worse enemy”. And our memories work just fine, why we remembered that the Voyagers are out there, still working, after all these years.

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