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Thu May 24, 2012, 03:46 PM

David Simon on his Commencement Speech at Georgetown

http://davidsimon.com/commencement-address-georgetown-university/

"And every day, it seems, the headlines offer fresh examples of the greed and selfishness with which my generation has laid waste to its own possibilities. And it doesnít end with Wall Streetís kleptocracy. In the world at large, we have proclaimed ourselves to be a peace-loving nation, yet we wage prolonged wars of choice. We declare our devotion to free and open markets, yet time and again unrestrained capitalism, while an effective tool for generating short-term profit, proves itself a useless metric for calibrating a just and inclusive society. We insist that we are still a great people, that an American Century is still to come, yet many of us feel no call to citizenship if citizenship has any actual cost. Even during wartime, with our armies afield, we whine about paying taxes, though our tax rates are the lowest in modern American history. Meanwhile, though less prone to overt racism, we have nonetheless abandoned the precepts of upward mobility for all Americans, conceding the very idea of public education, of equality of opportunity. And as our society further stratifies, as the rich get richer and the poor become less and less necessary to our de-industrialized economy, we wage a war against our underclass under the guise of drug prohibition, turning America into the jailingest society on the face of the earth. And as to reform? As to the political leadership and responsive government? That hardly seems possible when our high court permits capital to purchase our electoral process at wholesale prices.

Am Iím bringing you down with all of this stuff? Am I bumming you out? I canít help it. Iím sorry. But hey, if you watched The Wire, or Generation Kill, or Treme Ė then you knew I was gonna go there, right? Those are angry narratives. They are saying angry things about the American future.

And now, forgive me, that future is yours. And Woody Allenís clever turn-of-phrase, once played for laughs, now has a real and ugly echo, doesnít it?

For starters, my generation probably owes yours an apology. Because, hey, we definitely shanked it. We choked. We let ourselves get distracted with greed, with gloss, with the taste of the bread and the glitz of the circuses. We took our eyes off the prize Ė which was always this:

There cannot be two American experiments, one for the fortunate and another for the rest. All of us must share the same future Ė like it or not. For the republic to long endure, there must be a real American collective and all of us must have some stake in that collective."

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