Gary Horton: No grand plans mean no grand future

By Gary Horton

Last update: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

The definition of hell: “On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.”

I stumbled onto this quote while working on motivational ideas for an upcoming business retreat. The thing blew through my head like a red-hot steel rod.

Those of us who hope to be self-aware take frequent temperature of how we’re performing versus our personal goals. Still, that succinctness of “meeting the person you could have become” is staggeringly powerful.

A person no less colorful than Mae West once said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” And she would have known. Love her or hate her, Mae West lived large and kicked open doors all around her.

But generally, we don’t get second chances. Tonya Harding begged for one – and got it, but the moment had already passed and now she’s a by-word and a sad snicker. Oh, when she meets the person she could have become versus who she became. That’s a morality tale for the ages.

This, “meet the person we could have become” challenges us to push our boundaries to the best we’re able. To learn more, forge ahead more, risk more, help more, mentor more, teach more, love more. Far less dawdling, and far more building toward goals we’ve developed through careful pondering of potential. Yeah, it sounds like hard work and is – but for most, the benefits are boundless. Ask most kids who’ve worked to get themselves through college into interesting careers and most will answer, “the pain was worth the gain.”

Perhaps we should focus more on what might be the rewards of our best efforts rather than the perceived “sacrifices” to get there – personally, in our families, and even nationally.

Imagine this: “As our last day as a sovereign nation the country we became will meet the country we could have become.”

Countries rise and countries fall. Not many make it in one piece for more than a couple of hundred years. The U.S. has already beaten the odds – and already had a close call with the Civil War. We do have a lifespan and that will be determined by the decisions we made yesterday, today, and the decisions we make in the future. Are we headed in the right direction? Are our hearts, goals, and national effort pointed in the right directions?

How we address social justice, economic viability, health and welfare of our human resources, husbandry of our national resources. Decisions on all this – decisions happening right now – are determining the country we will become in the future – vs. what might have been.

“What might have been…”

There’s cost and benefits to our decisions, and lately it seems we’ve made bad trades. What had we put that two-trillion we lost in Iraq War II into American infrastructure and American educational excellence? How would our freeways, bridges, public transportation and children look today, versus how they actually are? We made bad investment choices and have already downgraded the “who we are, versus who we could have become.’

Heading into 2018, I hear of no actual grand plans for making America great. Slogans and MAGA hats, yes. But real blueprints for building a nation that’s truly a beacon to the whole world of the best mankind can strive for – no, not at all.

No grand plans for building the best infrastructure. No grand plans for making our K-12 educational system the best in the world again. No grand plans for restoring our fiscal prudence and longevity. No grand plans for at least getting competitive with other modern nations regarding health care for all citizens.

There is lots of talk about shutting the world out of our borders, about spreading even more guns inside, about “getting tough on crime” again, about eliminating public health care, and of cracking down on welfare” – basically, class warfare against the poor.

We’ve achieved a new tax scheme that creates trillion dollar gains for our nation’s very most wealthy. And this, while we empty out the treasury and further expand our deficit. We’ve just made a very real choice to trade our future national wealth to guild a very select minority of super rich today.

While some of the .01 percent may applaud this lofty achievement of upwardly wealth-transfer, I doubt this whole tax gambit will make America the country she could have been. It’s akin to a father stealing from his kid’s college fund for use as a down payment on a new boat. These are bad, bad choices.

It’s heart-rendering to view the callousness of Washington – and to hear this recent action called, “great.” China passes us in infrastructure. Scandinavia in education. But no one beats us in incarceration and war. Real time, we’re witnessing a bad trade-off of the country we became versus the country we could have become.

We’ve got real challenges pressing to be addressed, but instead get tax cuts for the super-rich while, for good measure, kicking the knees out of public health care.

As with our personal lives, our nation must aspire higher and perform better – for America as a whole, for our entire people. For, to look back in twenty or thirty years and see entire generational opportunities squandered – that would indeed be hell.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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Gary Horton: No grand plans mean no grand future

The definition of hell: “On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.”

I stumbled onto this quote while working on motivational ideas for an upcoming business retreat. The thing blew through my head like a red-hot steel rod.

Those of us who hope to be self-aware take frequent temperature of how we’re performing versus our personal goals. Still, that succinctness of “meeting the person you could have become” is staggeringly powerful.

A person no less colorful than Mae West once said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” And she would have known. Love her or hate her, Mae West lived large and kicked open doors all around her.

But generally, we don’t get second chances. Tonya Harding begged for one – and got it, but the moment had already passed and now she’s a by-word and a sad snicker. Oh, when she meets the person she could have become versus who she became. That’s a morality tale for the ages.

This, “meet the person we could have become” challenges us to push our boundaries to the best we’re able. To learn more, forge ahead more, risk more, help more, mentor more, teach more, love more. Far less dawdling, and far more building toward goals we’ve developed through careful pondering of potential. Yeah, it sounds like hard work and is – but for most, the benefits are boundless. Ask most kids who’ve worked to get themselves through college into interesting careers and most will answer, “the pain was worth the gain.”

Perhaps we should focus more on what might be the rewards of our best efforts rather than the perceived “sacrifices” to get there – personally, in our families, and even nationally.

Imagine this: “As our last day as a sovereign nation the country we became will meet the country we could have become.”

Countries rise and countries fall. Not many make it in one piece for more than a couple of hundred years. The U.S. has already beaten the odds – and already had a close call with the Civil War. We do have a lifespan and that will be determined by the decisions we made yesterday, today, and the decisions we make in the future. Are we headed in the right direction? Are our hearts, goals, and national effort pointed in the right directions?

How we address social justice, economic viability, health and welfare of our human resources, husbandry of our national resources. Decisions on all this – decisions happening right now – are determining the country we will become in the future – vs. what might have been.

“What might have been…”

There’s cost and benefits to our decisions, and lately it seems we’ve made bad trades. What had we put that two-trillion we lost in Iraq War II into American infrastructure and American educational excellence? How would our freeways, bridges, public transportation and children look today, versus how they actually are? We made bad investment choices and have already downgraded the “who we are, versus who we could have become.’

Heading into 2018, I hear of no actual grand plans for making America great. Slogans and MAGA hats, yes. But real blueprints for building a nation that’s truly a beacon to the whole world of the best mankind can strive for – no, not at all.

No grand plans for building the best infrastructure. No grand plans for making our K-12 educational system the best in the world again. No grand plans for restoring our fiscal prudence and longevity. No grand plans for at least getting competitive with other modern nations regarding health care for all citizens.

There is lots of talk about shutting the world out of our borders, about spreading even more guns inside, about “getting tough on crime” again, about eliminating public health care, and of cracking down on welfare” – basically, class warfare against the poor.

We’ve achieved a new tax scheme that creates trillion dollar gains for our nation’s very most wealthy. And this, while we empty out the treasury and further expand our deficit. We’ve just made a very real choice to trade our future national wealth to guild a very select minority of super rich today.

While some of the .01 percent may applaud this lofty achievement of upwardly wealth-transfer, I doubt this whole tax gambit will make America the country she could have been. It’s akin to a father stealing from his kid’s college fund for use as a down payment on a new boat. These are bad, bad choices.

It’s heart-rendering to view the callousness of Washington – and to hear this recent action called, “great.” China passes us in infrastructure. Scandinavia in education. But no one beats us in incarceration and war. Real time, we’re witnessing a bad trade-off of the country we became versus the country we could have become.

We’ve got real challenges pressing to be addressed, but instead get tax cuts for the super-rich while, for good measure, kicking the knees out of public health care.

As with our personal lives, our nation must aspire higher and perform better – for America as a whole, for our entire people. For, to look back in twenty or thirty years and see entire generational opportunities squandered – that would indeed be hell.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

About the author

Gary Horton

Gary Horton

  • Gil Mertz

    And a Happy New Year to you, too, Gary! Geez…it’s only January 2nd and you’ve already given up on 2018.

    The reason you’re not hearing about any plans to make America great again is because you’re watching CNN. Oh yeah, that’s the same source that’s spoon-feeding you the fake news about the new tax law.

    As a Democrat, I can understand your depression but for normal Americans, the future looks much brighter!

  • lois eisenberg

    “No grand plans mean no grand future”
    Gary, an hell-av opinion column !!!!

  • Brian Richards

    I disagree Gary. The current plan is not ideal, but it exists. The plan is to celebrate the uniqueness of America by making it stronger, not weaker. Bad trade deals, bad treaties on climate, and bad deals with tyrants is not a grand plan. Strategic patience, phony red lines, and giving Mullahs billions is not a grand plan. A plan to make millions more dependent on government is not a grand plan. A plan to eliminate our borders is not grand. You say we’ve beaten the odds and then you and yours want to destroy that which allowed us to beat the odds. That makes no sense. Well, look at the good news. The R vs. D tribalism wont survive the crushing effects of our debt in a couple generations. Many say it’s already too late and I tend to agree.

  • Gil Mertz

    Wow Gary, it’s only the third day of the New Year and you’ve already given up on 2018. Are things really THAT bad for Democrats?

    The reason you’re not hearing about any good news is because you’re watching CNN. Their propaganda is 100% negative about President Trump and his agenda . . . when they’re not smoking pot.

    You guys on the left keep bashing the new tax law because you KNOW what an impact giving 80% of the American people tax relief and empowering American businesses will mean for the economy. Your greatest fear is that Trump and the GOP will get credit for this success. But not to worry, keep watching CNN and you won’t have to hear about it.

    Democrats only hope for 2018 is that America suffers and that Trump will be impeached. It’s no wonder why you’re so depressed, Gary.

    • Brian Richards

      Liberals are an insufferable lot Gil. Compare their reaction to our reaction over President Obama. I didn’t like his policies and I think he was a weak leader, but he was personable. Nobody would claim President Trump is personable, but how can you knock his results? I’ll take results over personality! Can you imagine their reaction if, god forbid, Trump continues to be a success domestically and in foreign policy? Will their heads explode if he’s reelected?

      • Gil Mertz

        You can also see the difference in protests, Brian. When the Tea Party or similar conservative causes protest, there is no incitement for violence, no property destroyed, no arrests, no vulgar and obscene speeches, and when they leave, they pick up their trash. Compare that to the disgraceful displays of the rabid left. Conservatives adhere to the results of a democratic vote by the people even though they may be strongly opposed. Leftists are STILL contesting the 2016 election which is the one and only purpose of the Mueller Inquisition. Sadly, these same leftists dominate the media.

  • Gil Mertz

    To further illustrate my point that greatness is a matter of perception, I offer this POP QUIZ: Which tweet is the American media most upset about today:

    North Korean Dictator, Kim Jong-un: “The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table. The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range.”

    President of the United States, Donald Trump: “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

    The tweet of the threat to hit America with a nuclear strike, or the threat they had better not try?

    Which tweet makes the leftists and their allies in the media most upset? Which of these two will they demonize? Whose side will they take?

  • Ron Bischof

    Central planning out of Washington D.C. doesn’t work, Gary. The nearly $1T “stimulus” bill passed early in Obama’s tenure supposedly for infrastructure and the failure of Obamacare get nary a mention in your column.

    Nor were K-12 education, debt, infrastructure, energy policy, foreign policy, etc. improved during Obama’s two terms.

    Citizens are coming to the conclusion that real solutions don’t result from “Grand Plans” made by the permanent Federal bureaucracy.

    Rather, it’s work in our own communities that improves schools, paves roads, reduces crime and improves the opportunities for all our citizens.

    Also, taxpayers keeping more of their own money is superior to sending it to a Federal black hole for disposition.

    “It is the highest impertinence and presumption… in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense… They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.”

    — Adam Smith, The Wealth Of Nations, Book II, Chapter III, p.346, para. 36.

  • lois eisenberg

    “No grand plans mean no grand future”
    How can America have a grand future when the evil mad man in the White House does the following ????
    “America’s inability to play a constructive leadership role is only exacerbated by the systematic erosion of U.S. diplomatic capabilities under Trump.”
    “Trump keeps making bad American Foreign Policy worse”

    • Gil Mertz

      Lois, can you plagiarize anyone who talks about the grand future plans of the Democratic Party?

  • Bill Reynolds

    A liberal preaching anything about America’s sovereignty is simply laughable, especially a California liberal who champions sanctuary status for illegal aliens. Thank goodness we finally have a President who has grand plans to Make America Great Again, rather than appeasing our enemies and conducting worldwide apology tours.