Pine Nuts: America as explained by a curmudgeon to an immigrant |

Pine Nuts: America as explained by a curmudgeon to an immigrant

Welcome, stranger, to our shore, where we used to welcome your huddled masses, but not so much anymore. Lucky thing you’ve got a PhD in radiation shielding.

Allow me to paint a picture of the political landscape you are about to enter. Let’s start at the top and work our way down. The Republican party in America is composed of capable, resourceful, successful people who are looking out for other capable, resourceful, successful people.

The Democratic party is composed of everybody else. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. You can get thoroughly acquainted with republicans by watching Fox News and equally well acquainted with democrats by watching MSNBC.

Republicans tend to start sentences with “Listen” or “Look.” Personally, I don’t pay any attention to anybody who starts a sentence with “Listen” or “Look.”

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Democrats tend to start sentences with, “Let me be clear…” This is generally followed by a statement that is incomprehensible. Do not become a rank and file member of a political party. The peace of mind you will gain from political independence will pile years onto your life.

In case you haven’t noticed, we have a widening income gap here in America. Corporate profits continue to incline while wages continue to decline.

Robert Marcus recently received 80 million dollars, or about a million dollars a day, for serving six weeks as CEO of Time Warner Cable, while the minimum wage across most of the land is $7.25 an hour. You can feed a family of four on $7.25 an hour, they just have to run around naked all day.

I ask you, how does a country deal with runaway inequality in a political arena where it takes several million dollars to get elected to office? Right. It doesn’t. Money IS American politics, and last week’s Supreme Court McCutcheon decision to abolish limits individuals can donate to political campaigns over a two-year election cycle moves us ever closer to oligarchy.

Chief Justice Roberts defended the decision by comparing apples and oranges, “The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

The Chief Justice does not distinguish the difference between political sway of money and public opinion. At the same time, until we revisit Citizens United and stop recognizing corporations as people, we can only hope they will not elope with our daughters.

Our founding fathers and mothers fled to this country to escape the inherited political power of aristocracy. They established a political system of one man, one vote. King George must be smiling at the direction we now find ourselves drifting.

In full disclosure, I defer to Mark Twain, “I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.”

Oh, be sure to buy a gun, find a safe place to keep it, and keep that gun someplace else. This is not a rule, only custom. Here in Nevada we have pretty liberal gun laws, if you can lift it you can carry it.

Dear friend, read the local papers and spend your leisure time with family and friends in the great out of doors. Don’t send money to politicians. Money goes through politicians like oysters through a goose.

In closing my entreaty to you, just last week I rode in the chairlift at Diamond Peak with two students from Lake Tahoe School. Instead of talking about “Call of Duty Devastation,” I was gratified to overhear them talking about renewable energy.

There’s hope for this country, Anandamayee, I’m telling you, there’s hope for this confounded country. And by the way, you’re going to love it here.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at


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