The stock market is beginning to act and feel like it did around this time last year and the year before. Of course that wouldn't fit the exact definition of déjà vu, but it would have the same creepy aura, as we all remember how tough the market was the last couple of summers. Yet, it's not just the stock market that gives this "already seen" feeling.
Yesterday the market seemed to react to reports of increased cross border attacks by Syria in Turkey and Lebanon. There were rumors that Turkey requested aide from NATO to help it deal with its neighbor, so intent on killing its own citizens it would attack sovereign nations. Thousands of refugees have poured into Turkey and Lebanon, fleeing the bloodthirsty dictator Assad.
Apparently, there is more talk that America is inches away from going to war in Syria. I do find it interesting that Turkey would need help from NATO, although it could be a gambit of sorts to see how much the organization has its back, especially after Turkey played such a big role in the invasion of Libya. This situation isn't going to lead to a global conflict, but talk about feeling Déjà vu.
In September 1911, Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire with an eye on grabbing several provinces in what is modern day Libya. According to Erik Sass, the Italians realized they would have to pressure the Ottoman Turks near their capital of Constantinople.
That meant hitting the Turkish Straits. On April 18, 1912, the Italian navy bombarded Turkish fortifications, inflicting serious damage despite the Krupp guns provided to Turkey for defense. In order to stop further penetration, the Turks stretched out huge steel chains across the water, created minefields, fired up torpedo boats and mobile artillery. The attack on such an important waterway pitted several parties against one another, and according to Sass, snowballed into the Great War.
One hundred years later, the region is still a hotbed and helped to torpedo the stock market yesterday.
Silver Spoons and Class Warfare
Yesterday on Varney & Co, we engaged in a conversation about silver spoons when Stuart Varney asked if I was born with one. I was surprised, as I've never been asked that before, but shot back: "no but I will damn sure try to die with one." Here are further thoughts on silver spoons and class warfare.
The origin of the term "born with a silver spoon" is debated with some saying the earliest citation in prints occurred in the United States: "It was a common proverb that few lawyers were born with silver spoons in their mouths." Perhaps it was once a testament but now it is a derogatory term meant to belittle the accomplishments of some or excuse boorish behavior of others. I think when it's used to belittle success achieved through hard work it is the person uttering the phrase that is boorish. Indeed, in an effort to appear more the common man, President Obama brought up that he and his wife were not born with silver spoons.
Despite being president of the United States, a lot of the Obama's background is sketchy but it would seem atypical as most Americans do not grow up attending private schools or have the privilege to go to Harvard. I say God bless him. The sad part of such talk, however, is it is yet another backhanded swipe at the American Dream. Some historians believe the term evolved from the habit of grandparents giving their grandchildren silver spoons rather than have them use wooden spoons or pieces of bark. That's a noble gesture and certainly worth pursuing.
Overwhelmingly, most successful and rich people in America attain their status through hard work and sacrifice, but we are all born with a special gift. Arriving into the world as an American is like having a silver, gold, and platinum spoon, fork and knife versus almost anywhere else on the planet. It should be a source of pride not shame. Sometimes, I wonder if President Obama will not be happy unless all grandchildren are relegated to begin life with wooden spoons. Would that represent some kind of cosmic justice? Would it change the plight of those not fully participating in the riches of this great country?
President Obama hinted that those without silver spoons are shut out of opportunities in America. The path is harder if you don't have the right connections, but that path actually makes the person better and stronger and sooner or later the person that got the job or break through family will lose it through merit. But that is not the issue. The issue is suggesting the only way to get a break is to allow the executive branch the power to snatch those silver spoons. Sort of like making everyone move their pieces back to "GO" in Monopoly with the same amount of money. That would deter a lot of grandparents from working hard for those silver spoons.
I wasn't born with a silver spoon in the derogatory sense, but I have been blessed to have seen many facets of life in America. Through the years, I have come to appreciate the lessons of being poor and the obligations of financial success. One of the greatest things anyone would be able to say about me when I've left this earth is he left all his grandchildren silver spoons.