This morning Sherri and I are in Las Vegas for the PCGS Trade and Grade Invitational. Yes, Vegas is cool, but for us it is mostly about the great little show that PCGS hosts here four or five times a year. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a ‘stick in the mud’ when it comes to enjoying some time at the ‘tables’ myself. But, I prefer taking a more ‘educated’ risk on Rare Coins versus laying my money down in a casino where the odds are definitely ‘stacked towards the house’. Frankly, I like the ‘gamble’ that rare coins represent. Coins will not remain at these ‘low’ price levels forever.
Have you ever heard the saying ‘what goes around, comes around’ or the other saying ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same’. The world and our lives revolve mostly around the same values. Sometimes the ‘values’ are more liberal. Sometimes they are more conservative. As a middle aged guy-I’m 51-I have seen a couple of these ‘cycles’. I was a child of the sixties-a late baby-boomer. My folks were World War II babies-my dad was born in 1940 and my mom will celebrate her 70th birthday next month and was born in 1942. They grew up in the Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower presidencies. The country was recovering from the devastation of the war and most wanted to focus on OUR country and their families.
During the sixties these values were questioned. John F. Kennedy was a visionary and helped bring many changes to our supposed standards. Racial segregation was questioned and many measures and laws were changed. Lyndon Johnson continued many of these long overdue societal changes. However, the younger generation wasn’t buying ALL of the message and the Vietnam ‘conflict’ (how can a war that cost our country over 65,000 in dead soldiers be called a conflict?) blew up in both Johnson’s and later Richard Nixon’s faces. The Johnson backlash was Nixon. The Nixon/Gerald Ford backlash was Jimmy Carter, who although a brilliant man was mostly very inept politically. Whatever your political leanings, you don’t get elected President of the United States without having some intellect.
The Carter backlash was Ronald Reagan and the country once again experienced 12 years of conservative leadership. The Reagan/George Bush Sr. backlash was Bill Clinton. And so it goes…….
On the popular front changes swing back and forth also. Accomplishments from the past are forgotten, because new and now are what matters, right? Currently one of the ‘new’ things in Vegas is the huge ‘viewing platform’ I think they are calling it. Whatever they want to label this New Vegas attraction it is simply a Ferris Wheel. Yes, a Ferris Wheel. Don’t get me wrong, I think it fits Vegas pretty well-you know kind of ‘carnival midway’ cool. In fact, if you are a student of history you might know that the FIRST Ferris Wheel was the ‘main attraction’ at the 1892 and 1893 Columbian Exposition.
The Organizers of the Columbian Exposition NEEDED a big attraction. During the Winter of 1891 and Spring of 1892 they were dumbfounded as to what kind of attraction could rival, yet outshine, the fabulous Eiffel Tower built as the ‘center piece’ attraction at the Paris World’s Exposition held in 1876? When George Ferris, an engineer from PA approached the organizers of the Columbian Exposition with his idea, he was at first refused. Ferris persevered with an idea that was so audacious the fair organizers had trouble visualizing the impact it would have on the FAIR. You see, the citizens of Chicago had to prove that they were a ‘world class’ city like New York. In fact, the term ‘windy city’ is not about wind. The term ‘windy city’ refers to the sometimes outlandish self promotion that journalists, politicians, and Chicago promoters became famous for.
Fast forward 120 years. Las Vegas is building another Ferris Wheel. This Ferris Wheel will be 500 feet tall. The ‘original’ Ferris Wheel stood nearly 400 feet tall. The Vegas Wheel will hold roughly 36 cars with a capacity of 35 or 36 passengers. The ‘first’ Ferris Wheel, built in 1892, had 36 gondola cars with a capacity of 50 and individual ‘luncheonettes’ in each car! George Ferris’s Wheel spawned the most popular and visible attraction on carnival midways and state fairs for the past twelve decades. Isn’t it interesting that they want to call this NEW Ferris Wheel a ‘viewing platform’?
The more things change, the more they remain the same…