The Happy 4th and “Oklahoma”

The Happy 4th and “Oklahoma”
July 4, 2011
David Kotok

Yesterday we invoked the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma” as a metaphor. Whoosh! It triggered a flow of email. Many enjoyed the comments and the nostalgia. Thank you.

Others disagreed, some with vigor. Therefore, we decided to invoke Paul Simon. “When something goes wrong, we’re the first to admit, the first to admit it, the last one to know.”

We thank our weekend readers for responding. Here is a selection from the other side.

Jeff V. wrote:

“Ahhh the glorious mid-1950s… What a great time it was to be an American indeed. The cold war was going on full cold blast, America was just out of the Korean War (sorry, Police Action) that cost the lives of a mere 57,000 Americans, people were living in fear of the end of the world via nuclear winter (see The Effects of Nuclear Weapons by Samuel Glasstone, published in 1957), Joseph McCarthy was leading his salutary witch hunt against Communism, blacks were appropriately treated like second rate citizens in the south (see Rosa Parks, 1955), Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953 was overthrown in a coup d’état orchestrated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and replaced by a friendly dictator more accommodating to the US and UK views, etc. etc. All was for the best in the best of all possible worlds, don’t we ever forget it!! And now, I am going to go cultivate my garden

David B. wrote:

“Happy Forth of course, but your last statement confused me. I can’t decide if you are simply against all government, some government, bad government, for gridlock that prevents government from acting in the best interests of all citizens, not just those who are persistent or lucky or had money from parents. We are in the midst of two fires, both being fought bravely by the hated government. Then when disaster strikes, who do people turn to government for flood relief, or caring for aging parents, or protecting our country, or countless over services that no private sector firm would like or could deliver or if they tried would over charge as they do for feeding our troops or delivering our fuel. Silent Cal wasn’t such a hot President and being followed by Herbert Hoover, it’s hard to imagine where we would be now if Franklin Roosevelt hadn’t stepped in.”

Robert caught the typo that my copy editor and I missed. He harrumphed:

“It’s Richard RODGERS and usually Oscar Hammerstein II; his father, Oscar I, having been an opera impresario in Manhattan, his company rivaling the Met.”

Sherman B. wrote:

“The show opened on Broadway in spring of 1943 and ran for over 5 years to 1948. The film version was released in 1955. Korean War part came after the show closed.”

Sharon P. asked:

“What about the 50s cold war scare, black listing and McCarthyism? That did not make for “a beautiful morning/day”. Great to nostalgically look back at the goodness of an era, but I believe there is a need to be fair about both the good and bad and not be revisionist when recalling the past – including remembering people, and events. It is human nature to look back at the good old days and pine for them, but that is the nature of societies and discussing the old days without fairness only perpetuates myths and encourages unrest in the present.”

Good friend and professional colleague David B. wrote:

“You were an Eagle Scout in 1956??? And I thought I was old! Trivia question: who did the choreography for Oklahoma? Answer: My aunt!

Bob Bender sent:

“Interesting Coolidge Quote. A very fitting Quote on this Fourth of July comes from the first Republican President, one that you may know and will definitely find interesting. “Labor is prior to and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could not have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration”. from his first annual message to congress Dec. 3, 1861. If you ever choose to use this quote and want to credit me for bringing it to your attention, which of course would not be necessary, I retired a few years back as a Vice President of Investments, Smith Barney. Prior to that and going back 25 years I was a Broker, Branch Manager and Financial Writer. I am currently serving on five panels as a Securities Arbitrator.”

Thanks again to ALL readers who took time to send responses. We will enjoy the broiled chicken with skin removed to reduce the fat. We will put the skim milk and “Splenda” in our coffee. We will watch our blood sugar; take our pills and limp along because of the arthritis flare.

And nostalgically, we will remember the era of the 1950s. Happy 4th. It’s America’s birthday. “Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away.”

David R. Kotok, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer

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