Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beaver’s bound to rise...

When I was a young feller I was fascinated by the Mountain Men. Obsessed is probably more accurate.

A life of buckskins, beaver trapping and black powder seemed to my 12 or 13-year-old mind to be the real life for a man. I felt a powerful nostalgia for things I’d never see. I didn’t even like to read about the decline of the Fur Trade. I wanted it to be forever 1832.

But of course, that’s not the way life works. The heyday of the Mountain Men lasted 20 years or so. The market for beaver fur crashed as fashion switched from beaver top hats to silk top hats. The voracious trappers had pretty well trapped out the great fur country by then anyway.

Something akin to my youthful nostalgia is at work in the halls of power right now. There’s a movement afoot to bail out the Big Three automakers. As David Brooks says, it may make sense to keep them afloat as a jobs program and then let them go bankrupt, but bailing them out just props up decrepit companies.

The beaver hat has been supplanted by the silk topper. That started decades ago. And the Big Three have “trapped out” the country with low-mileage SUVs and trucks (yes, I own one). Their “brigades” are bloated with ridiculous union-backed legacy programs that pay people for not working.

But the idea of letting the Big Three go — to innovate or die — tears at the very fabric of America. I submit that it’s not just about the jobs, though that is obviously a big deal. It’s the same sense that made me want it to be 1832 again and forever.
We want it to be forever ’55 when we were makin’ Thunderbirds (apologies to Mr. Seger).

Last night I saw Chris Matthews get downright weepy about the idea of American carmakers who could build such a cool car that it meant everything to have one. He can’t believe that those days are gone, never to return.

The Mountain Men couldn’t believe their way of life was ending either. They gathered at a rendezvous on Green River in 1839 — the last of its kind — to bemoan the low price of beaver and its scarcity.

Never mind, they told each other. There’s beaver country yet to be discovered. Beaver’s bound to rise.
But it would never be 1832 again. 1955 and the Thunderbird are gone, too. No bailout is ever gonna bring ’ em back.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. 6 Myths About US Automakers:


  2. The "Big Three" are so in bed with the oil companies that they need to go down and help put our dependency on a corrupt and outdated fuel need to rest! It is so sickening to witness the greed of our culture and those who hold "the power".I can only hope these times will help develop and motivate the human(especially american) race to once again look back at simpler times and create new inventions and rituals that celebrate the wonderful earth and wisdom of the ages we have been given. Call me a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.