In the week of the Kentucky Derby, the President’s Address to the Congress recalled ideas penned by Laura Hillenbrand in her widely-acclaimed work “Seabiscuit.” Although Joe Biden, these days, is more associated with Corvettes and German Shepherds, his interests may also include the equine. Certainly, the 78-year-old seems to be racing to get as much done as he can in the allotted time.
When, in the narrated voice of David McCullough in Seabiscuit’s story, the reference was made regarding Franklin Roosevelt’s policies during his first 100 days, it was during the time when the little horse rose to the top of the racing world, even beating Triple Crown winner War Admiral in a famous match race in 1938. That was the year when Seabiscuit earned more lines of type in newspapers than even Adolph Hitler.
You may remember those lines, “They called it ‘relief,’ but it was a lot more than that. It had dozens of names. N.R.A., W.P.A., the C.C.C. But it really came down to just one thing. For the first time in a long time, someone cared. For the first time in a long time, you were no longer alone.”
My family, perhaps like yours, had suffered through a terrible scare when the stock market crashed and nearly one out of every 3 working people lost their jobs. Oh, it was not because of losing investment stocks. No one in our group that I ever heard about ever had enough money with which to buy any stocks of that nature.
No, the only kind of stock – and every critter was essential to the family – any of my Mom’s or Dad’s families had was hoofed or pawed or clawed like mules and chickens and pigs and cows. Had to have the workhorses to pull the mowing machine, of course and then the mules were needed on the high ridges.
Our bread and cakes and meals were usually built around eggs from the chicken house. Most meals had some kind of meat – bacon or sausage or ham or steak or hamburger or beef from our stock that had paid the ultimate sacrifice. Our milk and butter were always fresh with no preservatives. Those potatoes and corn and beans and such from the hard-tilled garden spots tasted mighty good, too.
No complaints. Why, even then my grandparents and parents understood that they were eating better than many people who raised their food in grocery stores, so to speak. Now, my ancestors were not dirt poor. In fact, it was the dirt itself, that good, rich Tazewell County earth that actually made the group rich in more ways than one. Speaking of rich, the story goes that a few of my ‘nections added to the family income by turning some of that corn into lightning!
But, where were we? This president’s plan is somewhere in the $6 trillion range and that might be a case where if all the dollar bills were laid end to end it would reach from poverty to prosperity. If we could turn the calendar back just a few years, it might not be as radical a change as many might believe because Donald Trump had an agenda that was going to cost a little more than $4 trillion, which also included quite a bit for coronavirus research and vaccination, as well as a hefty infrastructure package. It may be argued that the former president did not keep strongly pushing all of those programs but he never abandoned them, either.
The government involves all, from the tax tickets to the snowplows. No doubt we are concerned about how the bills are going to be paid but we also wonder how we are going to survive. The numbers, as always, reflect those feelings.
In a piece written by journalist Dan Balz, he points out that recent polls indicate Americans are reasonably close to reconciling their opinion of “big government.” For example, the numbers say that approximately 53 percent of U.S. citizens are indeed concerned that Biden’s plan to increase the scope of the government participation in our society while 47 percent are not.
Whether or not Mr. Biden is able to achieve most of his goals is up for discussion – and the vote. The razor-thin majority his party has in the House of Representatives may not survive the 2022 mid-term elections. The 50-50 split in the United States Senate, depending upon the decisions of West Virginia’s own Joe Manchin, is the very definition of dead-even.
It is going to be interesting. Yet, I think I will adopt the philosophy of my Grandad and Ms. Hillenbrand and ride that horse for a while secure in the knowledge that it feels as if I am not alone.
Larry Hypes, a teacher at Bluefield High School, is a Daily Telegraph columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org