I NEVER, NEVER discuss politics in a business setting, much less blog about them. Instead, I discuss wine, noting that there are vineyards in the South of France (Chateau Ausone, for one) that have been more or less in constant production since the Roman Empire. If you want to talk about businesses that get it, these might be people to look at.

One wine writer I like is Jon Rimmerman, who sources unexpected and unknown wines that he finds while rambling around Europe and offers — one offer a day — via his company Garagiste. His daily e-mail offerings are a delight to read and none more so than his post today, the best thing I’ve read yet on our current position. Enjoy!

A Fly on the Wall

It’s interesting to be a fly on the wall when locals in Europe speak of the US economy, government quagmire and overall state of their “friend” on the other side of the Atlantic. Most will tell you Europe is in a worse position and the Euro is no stronger than the Dollar. When a currency is tied to so many complex and different countries and cultures, it’s nearly impossible to keep a steady hand on its true value.

With the dollar, it’s just us – our triumphs and our sorrows.

Right now, while the world is waiting for us to bring everyone closer together, it appears we want to rip ourselves apart.

No one is perfect, not even a country…we make mistakes as everyone does. What makes the US so special is our ability to get ourselves out of a mess, to get off the floor and continue running up or downhill.

The main problem right now in the mind of many outside observers (that I chat with on foreign soil, as I did today in Umbria) is that, for the first time in many generations, the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” has an uncertain final word for the US. For many Europeans, the US was always been the last line of everything – “when the going gets tough, the US will somehow find a way to help, to make it right” – now that phrase seems to be “when the going gets tough, the tough get…?”

That makes Europe and the world nervous.

If we can’t even settle our own internal king-of-the-hill grudge matches like sensible and rational world-watchdog adults, then doesn’t it make things more precarious for new nations, those about to set up shop with democracy?

The world wants the awe-inspiring creative culture the US is known for – they crave the Spirit of St. Louis again. They still want to look up (way up) to us with a big sigh of relief that their strong older brother is there if need be. We can complain all we want about having to police the world, having to spend billions of unnecessary dollars on military infrastructure and replenishment on “wars” that few of us have two sentences of a grasp on but it’s about more than that.

The point is, with human nature such that man will always try to overpower man (or woman) with physical, mental, religious or ingenious might, someone has to tell the rest of the world to stop, not to worry, that we’ve got their back. For 100 years, that someone has been us (whether by our own insistence or realization that if we didn’t, the consequences for the entire world would be so grave, we had to). For over a century, we’ve earned the trust of a world searching for a modern direction but trust is fleeting and it has to be fostered day in and day out, regardless of past success.

Right now, the world sees our home run champs as more like Barry Bonds rather than the ideal of Roger Maris or Babe Ruth. For most of the world, the “Roger Maris” that the US has (had?) is the spark that made us sparkle. Out of nowhere, without creatine or other, we just may hit 61 out of the park when no other nation could come close.

Circa August 8th 2011, a majority of the world is nervous that the US has lost that edge.

Let’s not give them any reason to be.

All it takes is determination, an old wood bat, a leather glove and a sandlot –

Who knows, any of us – let me repeat that – any one of us (out of nowhere) just may hit 62 the old fashioned way…

…but it takes both the right and left hand firmly on the bat to do so.

Jon Rimmerman
Garagiste – August 8, 2011

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