In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt invited naturalist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, to be his guide for his famous camping trip through Yosemite National Park. Muir was about to decline when a friend warned him that one must always accept the president’s invitation. Muir was offended by this notion, because it seemed to treat the president like a king. In the end, Muir decided to make the journey after all: “I suppose I shouldn’t refuse just because he happens to be president,” he said.
The U.S. government could reap hundreds of millions of dollars in the next decade by collecting royalties from gold, silver and other mines exempt under an 1872 law President Ulysses S. Grant signed to promote the frontier.
The “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and severe spending cuts scheduled to kick in next year, is a product of multiple deceptions. Both the expiration date on the Bush-era tax cuts and the trillion-dollar “sequesters” that were enacted as part of last year’s debt- ceiling deal were designed to cover up an overarching problem: the country’s out-of-control debt.
There is a feeling today among too many Americans that we might not make it. That we have become Britain, or ancient Rome or Greece. Not that we, as a people, have lost anything of our potential, but that we as a republic have.
This year’s celebration of the Fourth of July is amplified by the sesquicentennial of the Union victory at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. The holiday will no doubt serve up the requisite dose of patriotic feeling, sentimentality and togetherness to convince us that we have exercised some civic virtue. But the vacation time spent with family and friends will mostly serve to remind us that we are exhausted.