At least that is the impression we get from the governments of other nations. Having traveled a bit, the common man who actually benefited from American aid in all its myriad of forms from food to fuel to arms – “guns and butter” – is grateful and sincerely appreciative.
So, when one of my radio listeners sent me a transcript of a broadcast from a Canadian, it caught my attention. Even more remarkable was the similarity of conditions noted, although 35 years have intervened. The following was broadcast in Ontario, Canada on June 5, 1973.
“The United States dollar took another pounding on German, French and British exchanges this morning, hitting the lowest point ever known in West Germany. It has declined by 41 percent since 1971 and this Canadian thinks it’s time to speak up for the Americans, the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people in all the earth.
“As long as 60 years ago , when I first started reading newspapers, I read of floods on the Yellow River and the Yangtze [in China]. Who rushed in with men and money to help? The Americans did.
“They have helped control floods on the Nile, the Amazon, the Ganges and the Niger. Today, the rich bottom lands of the Mississippi are under water and no foreign land has sent a dollar to help. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy, were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured billions of dollars and forgave others billions in debts. None of these countries are today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.
“When the Franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.
“When distant cities are hit by earthquakes, it is the United States that hurries into help. … Managua Nicaragua is one of the most recent examples. So far this spring, 59 American communities have been flattened by tornadoes. Nobody has helped.
“The Marshall Plan, the Truman Policy all pumped billions upon billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now, newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent war-mongering Americans.
“You talk about Japanese technocracy and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy and you find men on the moon, not once, but several times … and safely home again. You talk about scandals and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everyone to look at. Even the draft dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, most of them … unless they are breaking Canadian laws … are getting American dollars from Ma and Pa at home to spend here.
“When the Americans get out of this bind … as they will … who could blame them if they said, ‘The hell with the rest of the world, let someone else buy the Israel bonds, let someone else build or repair foreign dams or design foreign buildings that won’t shake apart in earthquakes.’
“Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.
“Our neighbors have faced it alone and I am one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their noses at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles.”
For being 1973 it sure sounds a lot like 2008. The Canadian Gordon Sinclair had it right. We did come out of our mess with our flag held high – that is the lesson for today. Despite our current problems, this is still the United States of America – the greatest nation the world has ever seen. The painful process of pounding out the dross will again restore our finely tempered steel.
Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks, owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing and his radio talk show can be heard Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. on 99.1 FM.