How will we power the trains? Nukes? Oh, perish the thought. Not after those whachamacallits in Japan failed to withstand the thingummy from the whoozis. Obviously, if something can’t shrug off one of the five most powerful earthquakes ever recorded, then we shouldn’t have anything to do with it at all, no way, no how. Instead, we should “invest” in “green jobs,” and then you’ll be able to commute to your overnight shift at the KwikkiKrap because the high-speed trains will have giant wind turbines nailed to the roof of the caboose, at least until the next of kin of boxcar-riding hobos caught in the slipstream file a class-action suit. And by then you won’t need to commute to the KwikkiKrap because they’ll have cut the night shift after the drop-off in vehicular traffic was so severe they had to change the sign to “CASHIER CARRIES LESS THAN $3.79 IN CHANGE.” But that proved to be the biggest stimulus to the American sign-manufacturing industry since they had to make all those “THIS TWO-HUNDRED YARD STRETCH OF SCARIFIED PAVEMENT BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE AMERICA RECOVERY & REDISTRIBUTION ACT” sign, so that’s even more good news.
The Audacity of Golf may yet prove a potent message. Many Americans seem disinclined to heed warnings, especially of stuff that Harry Reid assures us is a long way off. Change we can believe in? Thanks but no thanks. We’ll wait till it happens. In New Orleans, they waited till the hurricane hit, and then the cops walked off the job, and the fleet of evacuation buses lay empty and abandoned, and enterprising locals fired on army engineers repairing the 17th Street Canal, and less ambitious types went a-lootin’, and, when the feds showed up to hand out emergency debit cards, they spent them at strip joints, and of the refugees who fled to Texas 45 percent turned out to have a criminal record and the Houston homicide rate went up 23 percent.
So imagine if last week’s earthquake and tsunami had hit Louisiana.
Japan is a dying nation, literally. They’re the oldest people on earth, and their shrunken pool of young ’uns are childless. They’re already in net population decline: The nation that invented the Walkman would have been better off inventing the walker. Today their only world-beating innovations are in post-human robotechnology — humanoid nurses with big-eyed Manga faces doing the jobs that humans won’t do.
Japan is doomed. And yet, watching the exemplary response to catastrophe this week, you sense that their final days will at least be tranquil and orderly. From afar, we shrieked like ninnies, retreating to the usual tropes: No nukes! And more carbon offsets to appease the great Water Gods of the Tsunami!
America is the brokest country in history. We owe more money than anyone has ever owed anyone. And Obama and Reid say relax, that’s no reason not to spend more — because the world hasn’t yet concluded we have no intention of paying it back. When they do, the dollar will collapse, like those buildings in Sendai. When that happens, it will make a lot of difference whether Americans react like the Japanese or Louisianans.
But, in the meantime, Barack Obama goes to Brazil and assures us that life’s a beach: Golf on, Mr. President.
— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2011 Mark Steyn.