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October 20th, 2017

Insight

The Age of Nobody

Paul Greenberg

By Paul Greenberg

Published June 26, 2015

  The Age of Nobody

Nothing is clear yet -- this is, after all, your federal government in ever ham-handed operation -- but as of this writing Alexander Hamilton's portrait is to be airbrushed off the $10 bill. Maybe.

First it was just a rumor, then a news story that looked like the real thing, but by now it's just the typical haze of contradictions out of Washington. And idle speculation has set in like the fog rolling into San Francisco Bay.

Somewhere in this cloudy mix there's even been mention that a reference to Col. Hamilton and his innumerable services to the republic he molded into a nation may be retained on the currency even if his picture isn't.

Before any more stories about this subject appear in the public prints, allow me to offer just one clear, unmistakable suggestion. Whatever y'all are up to in that capital of confusion on the Potomac, and specifically in the Treasury Department that Alexander Hamilton essentially founded:

STOP!

This whole business is idiocy -- compounded by ignorance and arrogance, bad taste and historical amnesia, and who knows what else? No one does because all these "plans" are just another sample of Washington fogspeak. That is, they are the opposite of the clarity and vision Alexander Hamilton bequeathed this republic.

And once he's gone from the ten, who or what takes his place? Yet to Be Determined? Watch This Space? One story said the only requirement for his replacement is that she will be a she. The particular she might be chosen by a poll of those who want to participate in the choice, much like the winner of "American Idol," or the last contestant standing on a reality TV show. Perfect. That is, perfectly inane. And perfectly representative of our empty times.

It's all enough to make a man wish our masters in Washington had chosen to remodel the $20 bill instead. Surely some other Indian killer or economic illiterate out to scuttle the country's banking system could have been found to replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty.

Instead, the feds have chosen to throw Secretary/Colonel/Editor/Founding Father Hamilton down the memory hole. He's to be replaced by nobody, at least for now.

It's a decision, or rather non-decision, typical of an age in which group identity is all, and individual attainment, achievement, talent, industry leadership ... nothing. Worse than nothing, but a subversive influence, a mindset that must be crushed, an example to be erased lest it be imitated. Little wonder Alexander Hamilton's image had to be effaced from the ten.

Who, after all, could better represent the ideal of individual achievement? Founding Father, war hero, chief author of the Federalist Papers, anti-slavery agitator, the financier who put the still new United States on a fiscally sound basis and gave it a modern economy, complete with a national bank. Plus a manufacturing industry and the tariffs to protect it. Next to Washington and Lincoln, he'd be my nominee for the greatest statesman this country has ever produced.

Of course Alexander Hamilton had to go. To make room for fill-in-the-blank. Welcome to the vacuous America of 2015, and the age of ... nobody.

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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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