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The Catcher in the Rye: Can George W. Bush be Holden Caulfield?

The Catcher in the Rye: Can George W. Bush be Holden Caulfield?

First and foremost, we at Apollo Wealth Management, Ltd. wish everyone a safe and prosperous 2005. May the new year bring us all an overabundance of success and happiness.

Having said that, we thought we’d share something that occurred to us when we spent a few hours over the holidays with J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”. Do you remember Holden Caulfield’s aim? He envisioned himself as a guardian of the innocent children playing in a rye field…destined to fall off the cliff into the phony, adult world.

Holden sought to be their safety net.

It is in this spirit that we thought about the societal safety net that’s needed if President Bush is to achieve his goals during his second term. Lost in the rhetoric of the “red state – blue state” debate was this little gem offered at the Republican National Convention…

“The changed world can be a time of great opportunity for all Americans and government must take your side. Many of our most fundamental systems – the tax code, health coverage, pension plans, worker training – were created for the world of yesterday, not tomorrow. We will transform these systems.”

OK “W”, we’re on board. We like the individualism and self-reliance implicit in your agenda but what will happen during the transition from today’s world (wrought with yesterday’s programs) to the world of tomorrow? We’re all for your vision of an “ownership society” but the road from point A to point B is certain to have a few detours along the way. Do you have a plan to reroute the traffic?

Diminished job security and an increasingly globalized marketplace are scaring the heck out of the rank and file from white-collar managers to blue-collar line workers. More and more employees have to retool for new jobs. We’re all for an overhaul of the tax system but it would help if it wasn’t just for wealthy investors. How about expanding existing programs that make tax-deductible certain aspects of training and lifetime education so they cover service workers and not just those in the manufacturing sector?

How about setting an example for our major trading partners?

Western Europe continues to choke under the perpetual welfare state and the Japanese couldn’t find economic growth with a map and a flashlight! Put forth your policy changes in a manner that prepares us for the future AND protects us during the transition. Show the world a reason to support open trade policies. Otherwise, we’re in for continued protectionism.

How about educating the average American? We’d like some real, honest, objective information. Most of us are woefully unprepared for a market-driven world of health care, retirement savings, etc. How many of us truly understand the benefits and risks? Personal choice is a good thing – let’s capitalize on it by ensuring that all Americans are armed with the tools to make informed decisions.

While you wrestle with the specifics of your plans, be sure to have a staffer keeping an eye on the play clock. You’ve only got four years to go and, well, maybe two or three good ones at that before you become a lame duck. Do you really want to let Hillary Clinton carry the ball over the goal line when the trailer park vote that twice elected her husband puts her in office in 2008?

The game of politics is a tough one and we know you’ve got a tough road ahead of you. Go for broad bi-partisan support and you’ve got a chance. Wrap yourself in the bible-thumping flag waived by the ultraconservatives and your retirement years will be spent debating with your father which one of you has the right to look down on Jimmy Carter!

We’re behind you George…we always rally around our President.

You’ve got a fresh set of downs. Let’s see something more than three yards and a cloud of dust, OK?

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