Moonie, my neighbor's cat, sits predictably outside my front door every morning at 7 a.m. Moonie expects breakfast, and if unhappy with that day's selection -- fish, chicken, beef -- Moonie sniffs indignantly and walks over to the front door and meows for his immediate release. Who knows where he goes? Perhaps he travels back home or to yet another accommodating neighbor with more appealing offerings. Safe, happy, full and entitled, Moonie sometimes sunbathes in my driveway, requiring me to literally get out of the car and move him when the roar of the engine and the car's horn fail to rouse him.
One day last week, Moonie ate most of his ritual morning delicacies. I then went clothes shopping, taking my uncle and dad. The Lebanese store manager, Walid, waited on us and told a harrowing tale of how he came to America at age 7. Neighboring Syrians, he said, brutalized and took advantage of the Lebanese. Syrians assassinated the leaders of Lebanon, establishing a leadership more amenable to Syrian demands, which included taking Lebanese oil, leaving Lebanon with little compensation.
Syrian authorities routinely patrol Lebanon's streets, acting toward the Lebanese with Hussein-like arrogance and brutality. Many Christians live in Lebanon -- including, at one time, the salesman -- surrounded by Muslims, living an uncomfortable and frequently perilous day-to-day existence. For this reason, his family applied for a visa to America and waited over seven years before being accepted.
Moments after hearing the salesman's story, I ran into another shopper. Recognizing me from television and radio, the shopper said, "We probably won't like each other. I'm a committed radical socialist." Now understand the scene. This clothing store touts its high quality at reasonable prices. Tell me, does my "radical socialist" understand that the American system of capitalism, competition and free enterprise enable her to shop at this store where she, like my father, my uncle and me, sought reasonably priced quality?
Did some bureaucrat at the Department of Labor or Commerce use command-and-control edicts to compel this hard-working Lebanese immigrant to improve himself? If the shopper drove to the store, she benefited from free-market competition between automakers. She used fuel resulting from the competition between oil discoverers, producers, refiners and retailers. And, frankly, given her ample girth, she did not appear to miss too many meals in America, despite her "radical socialist" view.
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