Friday, February 19, 2010

A Changing America (cont'd)

When I was in military service in the early 1950's, I had a good buddy who told me that his favorite movie was "Meet John Doe".  Several of us were discussing the affairs of the world when this admission was made.
I had never heard of the movie but found out later that it was the capstone of Hollywood's love songs to "the little guy", the John Does of the world.

Scroll ahead fifty years.  This buddy and I have renewed acquaintance through letters.  In one of them, he reports the experience of picking up a hitchhiker in Colorado who looked like someone living on the road.  Apparently this hitchhiker complained about how tough it was to get ahead.  He told my friend that he needed a D battery to operate a light he owned but could not find any store which sold less than two batteries in a pack.  The hiker was disturbed by this.  He could not afford to spend money for something he didn't need, and he thought it was greedy to require that people be made to do so.
My buddy commiserated with him, but in his letter to me he commented that the poor guy hadn't caught up with the philosophy of Milton Friedman and the importance of profit.
Wow, I thought, you met John Doe and didn't know it.
I think this story serves as a good example of the change of cultural attitudes in America in the last half of the 20th century.

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