Walt Disney – an exceptional man building an exceptional America

We’ve just spent a week in a magical place … the happiest place in the world … Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida.

Our three grandchildren, ages 16, 12 and 9 had never been to a Disney park, neither Disney Land in California nor Walt Disney World. So my wife took upon herself a mission to fill this void in their lives, and it was quite a refresher course for yours truly as well.

The happiest place in the world! ” is how this place is billed, and I suppose it may very well be, thanks to a visionary dreamer named Walt Disney who decreed it to be so those many years ago.

So what is it about this place that is so special? After all, as large and successful as this place is, it produces nothing of any tangible worth; it produces no automobiles as Ford Motor does, it produces no iPods or iPhones as Apple does, it produces no airliners as Boeing does, it produces no Nobel Prize physicists or economists as Yale or Berkley does . All it produces are those silly and worthless parades at the end of the day in the Magic Kingdom, those totally unproductive and utterly scary rides through the middle of some fake mountain … etc. etc. Nothing of worth or value!

Nothing of value … except happiness and joy. The joy and exhilaration of riding that scary ride, the joy of watching the face of a granddaughter lite up as a huge Pluto dog gets in her face at the Parade of Lights and waves at her personally. The surprise as a park worker picking up trash stops to welcome you and actually talks with you about his “job” here at the park. The giddy laughter as talking bugs appear right in your face in that 3D theater, or a 16 year old grandson remarking on how graffiti free the place is. The very relaxing ride in a tube down a meandering river at the water park … !

And on and on for a week of joy and happiness.

There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of ev’ry day
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow’s just a dream away

Man has a dream and that’s the start
He follows his dream with mind and heart
And when it becomes a reality
It’s a dream come true for you and me

So there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of ev’ry day
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
Just a dream away

That’s the theme song in the Carrousel of Progress, the exhibit that Disney placed in the New York World Fair in 1962. It’s a theme which accurately reflects the American free market entrepreneurial spirit that has made the United States the “shining city on a hill” that Ronald Reagan talked so much about.  A spirit that has created the greatest engine for political and economic liberty that the world has ever seen. A spirit that has attracted multitudes from all around the world and from all economic classes.

My friends, let us be very careful and guard this spirit with all due diligence. It seems to me that the spirit of Disney is under attack from the spirit of “statism” in which we as a civilization are depending on government for more and more, and crowding out the entrepreneurial spirit through excessive governmental intrusion and regulation.

May we never be in a position such that a Walt Disney, a Henry Ford, a Bill Gates has no place at the table of opportunity and progress.

Don Johnson  — April 2012


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