An open letter to my children: I’m sorry for mess we’ve left

I’m sorry.

I wish there was some way I could change it, but the truth is my generation has largely destroyed your inheritance. We were given an awesome gift from God to have been born in the greatest nation the world has ever seen, and we are turning over to you damaged goods, maybe beyond repair.

I’m not sure how it got this way. I think it must have been in very small increments until recently. You know there has been a great uproar of late, but we were largely silent until now. I think that’s what happens when we get too caught up in our own lives and we quit paying enough attention to what’s going on outside our own little world.

We inherited a country that was proud of its role as the defender of freedom, and we turn over to you a country that apologizes for having delivered on that role.

We inherited a country that was great because we understood that freedom meant equal opportunity and personal responsibility for our successes and failure, and we turn over to you a country that thinks everyone should be guaranteed success and whines about any perceived inequality in results.

We inherited a country that sacrificed greatly for freedom against the worst of tyrants, from Hitler to Stalin to Mao to Saddam Hussein. We turn over to you a country that wants to have a group hug and sing “We Are The World.”

We inherited a country where we were proud to say we were one nation under God. We turn over to you a country where you have to be careful when and where you mention His name.

We inherited a country where kids would get their butts whipped for being rude to the teacher. We turn over to you a country where classrooms are out of control because teachers are concerned about being fired and sued in court for violating a student’s “rights.”

We inherited a country where you could park your bike outside the school without a lock. We turn over to you a country where it is often dangerous to walk outside after dark.

We inherited a country that understood President Kennedy when he exhorted Americans to ask what we could do for our country, not what our country could do for us. We turn over to you a country where we look to Washington for our income, our housing, our food and our healthcare.

We inherited a country where it was somewhat shocking for children to be born out of wedlock. We turn over to you a country where it is not only celebrated but encouraged.

We inherited a country where we could look to “the greatest generation” as inspiration for what it meant to be a great American. We turn over to you a country where that same generation has an advocacy group that screams bloody murder if you ask them to give up a nickel of the benefits they are now “entitled to.”

We inherited a nation that was financially strong and drove the world’s economy. We turn over to you a country that is in debt beyond its ability to pay, and is committed to much more of the same, largely as a result of the programs that same greatest generation is “entitled to.”

We inherited a country that was a beacon of hope to the world, and we turn over to you a country that wants to be Brazil.

I’m certainly not saying we have ever been perfect as a country. We have always had our warts, but ideally we always stood for something great. Now our goal seems to be achieving mediocrity and standing for nothing.

It would be easy to blame the politicians in Washington, but the truth is we put them there. I don’t know if you will have the wisdom and strength of will to undo all the damage we have done, but I will pray for you that you will be able to do so.

But I am afraid this mess we are turning over to you will not be humanly possible to fix, so I will pray for divine intervention. But with us turning over to you a country that has turned our backs on Him, I am afraid He won’t be listening.

I’m sorry. I really am.

Pepper Adams

Peachtree City, Ga.

Bonkers's picture
Joined: 03/01/2010
To: Pepper

Oh, it's not that bad now. We have always had problems---even worse than now.
I would like to remind you of some of those "warts" you mentioned!

But first I am curious as to what the "Divine intervention" you wish is.
Is it the delivery of freedom to other countries and an apology for doing so?
I sure hope you don't mean Iraq and Afghanistan!
China is still there, stronger than ever after Mao!
Russia is still there after Stalin.
We didn't fight either one to gain their freedom! We bloviated a lot and went into debt badly.

Kennedy got little from us for his speech about helping the government. And he was lucky he didn't have several of those out-of-wedlocks you mention---he may have. Bristol Palin said she was ashamed of her baby.

As to debt we spent more on WW2 and Iraq and Afghanistan than in all of history combined---allowing for inflation.

Now the "warts"
Treatment of immigrants from Europe, Ireland and the Baltics.
Buying thousands of slaves and unloading them here, mostly in South Carolina and Georgia. Beating them and killing them with impunity!

Killing millions of our own in the 1860s.
Robber Barons in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Enslavement of children in knitting mills and mines here.

Killing 4000 of our own and getting 40,000 wounded, at least, and killing 200,000 Iraqis---non-uniformed.
To little if no avail. Won't be any difference there in 10 years than when we started.

I'm afraid I could go on (1930s Great Depression) but you would probably say God willed it.
He did not. He lets us alone.

lion's picture
Joined: 12/16/2005
Adams letter

With all due respect, this letter is mostly just sad, conservative boilerplate, much with a strong sense of victimization.

God had nothing to do us being born in this nation. We are here because our ancestors chose to immigrate here. And just for the record, God was not one of our Founding Fathers. Our country was founded by men who thought long and hard about the best political structure by which to govern a complex young nation. They established a secular government under which we have prospered for over 200 years. They did not expect divine intervention.

I do not know what generation Adams is, but mine has seen major progress in civil rights, women's rights, protection of the environment, health care for all, and a retreat from the threat of nuclear war. I think God is pleased by these things.

Cheer up. Our country is much stronger than you think. Just one reason is that this nation with a long history of slavery and segregation has reached a point where it could elect an African American to be President of the United States. That alone is reason to be optimistic about the future. And I think that a nation that did that would make God smile.

PTC Observer
PTC Observer's picture
Joined: 04/23/2007
Lion - cheer

I agree we have a strong nation and one really good thing about it is that we can correct mistakes of the past. Obama and his Congressional pals will be just more thing of the past, starting in November.

mudcat's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
lion? mostly just sad, conservative boilerplate?

Are you kidding me? Pepper's letter is sincere and it reflects exactly the feelings that real Americans have about their country. What planet are you from? Have you been "victimized" somehow or have you grown up and grown old in the best country on earth? Get with it dude. Injecting race into this only slows the process down. Obama is the worst President we have ever had and he will be defanged in November and replaced in 2012.

God is only smiling because he invented free choice and now that we have it - Obama's out.

Acutally race does have something to do with all this. Consider: If a white President or a Mexican President or an Oriental President tried to screw up the country so quickly, would we stand for it over a year? We are so "sensitive" about race that we don't question his Marxist motives.

I'm starting to get Manchurian Candidate vibes. How about you?

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
Good points until the end

It's all because we "turned our backs on God?" I think there is a real litany of other reasons that have absolutely zero to do with any religion or spirituality, but of course, that requires thinking about solutions, cause and effect, history, economics,other countries not thinking the same way we do, and a multitude of complex issues instead of just throwing your hands up in the air and spouting some platitudes about "God." Yeah, if only it was that simple. A lot of people outside the US would see this letter as just another example of American arrogance and stupidity to think that the Creator favors Americans and will do everything to correct all of our very dumb human decisions and flaws.

If anyone thinks that all the USA has to do is get humble and get right with God, we'll never leave anything behind for our grandchildren besides a mountain of crushing debt, servitude to other countries holding us for ransom, wars, famine, and eventual enslavement, so wake up already. It takes a whole lot more than faith or calling for God to solve human problems that span the globe.

I know it's far easier to simply say "turn it over to God" than to have to think long and hard about real solutions to very real problems that have nothing whatsoever to do with faith, but not thinking or not being forced to make painful decisions isn't what the USA is about or the Christian religion as far I as see it. God helps those who help themselves.

S. Lindsey
S. Lindsey's picture
Joined: 12/31/2008
Nuk.. contrary to populist belief

God has played a huge part in the foundation on this Country.. It still does today. Even if you are a non-believer the very tenets of Christianity Charity, Faith, Hope and the whole Do unto others thing is the basis for a strong Country.

God is also about Free Will.. We have to do for ourselves first. I don't think anyone here nor from the letter do I gather that Pepper is saying we need to all hold hands.. down on bended knee and pray our troubles away..

Wouldn't hurt though.

Rather through Prayer or Karma or whatever solutions must be found or we will go the way of Greece soon..

Bonkers's picture
Joined: 03/01/2010
lindsey and nuk

The country (Czec Republic, Prague) where the Russian President and President Obama just met and signed a nuclear arms agreement is a good example of what happens to a country who is hundreds of year of age, maybe a few thousand, and over half of them are poor, they aren't recognized as having contributed much science, military prowess, or world leadership and never will, and you will see what happens when all they do is build those thousands of steeples you see on TV at the direction of the old clergy.

They have been run over by everyone nearly in the world over the several hundred years of accurate history. Why? All the money is stored in those steeples! They have lost it several times and have rebuilt them.

Nothing wrong with whatever Church (I suppose they are mostly Agnostics, Atheists and totally non-believers now) providing they don't try to lead and run a government.

Every religion existing has tried to run the place and they get killed off by the next one. Of course Hitler also lost out there.

Now they are mostly a race of Czecs and similar oeople, but over the 2000 years they have been Romans, Jews, Germans, Eastern Boogymen, Catholics, and others and none ever assimilated due to alternate religion running the governments.

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
Forget populist beliefs

I don't think many countries ignore the same tenets you mentioned and also firmly believe in them as a guide to governance. Why do you think we had the New Deal, Great Society, and Obamacare, Islamic terrorism, or had the Crusades?

Yeah, I did get the impression that we all just need to fall down and pray away all the very real problems. That was the only solution presented; the rest was just pointing out the problems that anyone with a pulse is already aware that exist.

There is no problem with the lack of God in this country; there is a problem in sitting on one's backside and hoping God takes care of very real human-created problems that require work from humans besides prayer and faith.

Mark Buckner
Mark Buckner's picture
Joined: 03/05/2009

Awesome letter. Looks like our boomer generation has been affected by the frog-in-the-kettle analogy.....slow move towards where we are. It has taken all this "change" to wake us up.
People are too easy to just follow and not think. The PC of today, not just plain common sense, has really taken us away from what America really is and stands for.
Not only am I afraid and sorry for our kids and grandchildren but I'm just young enough to be more than apprehensive myself.
Thanks for a reminder of where we were, and where we could be again with the hope we need.

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
I'm sorry as well, Pepper. I am very sorry

Great letter.
I expressed these same thoughts to my grown children and their spouse/significant other during a Spring vacation. The children were truly in awe of their grandparents - all born in the early 1920's and certainly part of the Greatest Generation. I am very happy that they knew each other for many years. It gives them a benchmark that we will never see in this country again.

It also gave them a reason to ask the obvious question - What happened? How did we go from the miracle of wartime production and fighting greatness of the 1940's; the economic greatness of the 1950's and 1960's; the recovery in the 1980's from the stumbles of the 1970's; and unprecedented growth in the 1990's to where we are now? Good question, isn't it?

I don't know the answer. I do know that blaming or praising the President for every single up and down is foolish. Most of the Presidents over the past 50 years have just played to the crowd (even our current one) and their influence over economic growth (or failure) is always overrated, although some Presidents try harder than others, but I digress. The answer must involve the mindset of the populace or at least the mindset of those that vote. In other words it is our fault. So how did we go wrong and when?

I'm thinking there are several events that have pushed the country away from the straight and narrow. They are:
1. Marshall Plan - nation-building after WWII. Beginning of America knows what is best for the world.
2. Civil rights legislation, the Great Society stuff and all the unintended consequenses that came from all that.
3. Watergate, mistrust of governement and the unintended consequenses from that.
4. Roe v. Wade. Opening the door for government interference in our personal lives.
5. Vietnam, the protests and the government's reaction. Created a rift in socoety that has not ever been healed.
6. Political correctness, certainly - but how did that nonsense get started? I honestly don't remember.
7. Virtually unregulated stock market growth and manipulation in the 1990's and beyond. Created unreasonable expectations and some real tragedy with bank failures, job losses and all the rest.

No doubt, others may have other ideas about how we managed to completley screw up this great country. I'd love for you all to tell my children and yours, so we can avoid making the same mistakes again. I fear it may be almost too late for the country.

Good letter Pepper, good thoughts.

jpopeye's picture
Joined: 10/21/2005
sorry too - and like the discussion

I'd like to add one to Roberts list.

8. Unsustainable transportation investment. How we view transportation is not based in anything planned or desired. It is all a necessity because we are reacting to what we have (lots of vehicles and roadway). Transportation uses tax dollars while you sleep and work. Changing the model is a huge shift but "too hard" was never a good reason to fail. If we started from scratch and based our transportation network on need and sustainability where would we be?

I don't believe people or political parties have bad intent - we are all just trying to make something work that does not make sense.

Cyclist's picture
Joined: 05/15/2007
One more to add to the list.

The inability to control our borders.

mudcat's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Can't believe Robert missed this one - from 1976!

Add this to the list. It is Robert's favorite complaint.
9. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1976 which started all this stupid lending in the interest of "fairness", See where that got us?

Bonkers's picture
Joined: 03/01/2010

So a 34 year old bill caused the recent bad home loans by banks, and caused AIG to insure bundles of trash? Doing away with "red-lining" isn't the problem.

There were no rules in any bill to require banks to loan up to 100-120% of a homes value and where the buyers would have to pay 60-65% of their income for principle, interest, and insurance!

It was small banks started by local wealth for a five year buildup of loans to sell to the large banks at tremendous profits at sell-out! Then banks like Wachovia bought horrible loaning banks in California and would have gone broke if not for Wells-Fargo salvaging them. Also Bank Of America salvaging Merrill Lynch for their greediness and illegalities.

I notice ML is back on TV again saying how great they are at investments!

History teaches some of us nothing!

mudcat's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Well now you've done it Bonkers

Brace yourself for a 1000-word response from Robert on this. He knows all about it as a former banker and he's adament about cause and effect. All the stuff you mentioned is true, but recent history. That's no more than a new generation of Gordon Gekos coming of age.

Not redlining is exactly the cause of the problem. Redlining worked for the banks, but was deemed racist for whatever reason - then it ended but flew under the radar screen until the 1990's when Clinton's flunkies started pushing the program. Barney Frank helped too and probably because of the publicity they generated - the new "greed is good" crowd emerged from under their rock and the rest - as they say - is history.

Bonkers's picture
Joined: 03/01/2010

but, but, but, Clinton??????

Did he want the banks to give redlined areas houses for about free? No of course not. It was brought on by stupidity----red-lining and greed!

I'm sure no former banker or any group from Wall Street was involved in the cause of our recession. I'm s.............., yeah!

S. Lindsey
S. Lindsey's picture
Joined: 12/31/2008
You know Bonkers Facts are Stubborn things..

"Add President Clinton to the long list of people who deserve a share of the blame for the housing bubble and bust. A recently re-exposed document shows that his administration went to ridiculous lengths to increase the national homeownership rate. It promoted paper-thin downpayments and pushed for ways to get lenders to give mortgage loans to first-time buyers with shaky financing and incomes. It’s clear now that the erosion of lending standards pushed prices up by increasing demand, and later led to waves of defaults by people who never should have bought a home in the first place."

S. Lindsey
S. Lindsey's picture
Joined: 12/31/2008


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