Make 80 the new 30

My reverence for youth and enthusiasm gets trumped only by my awe regarding age and guile.

Don’t mistake me for someone dissing the young and the restless. I respect enthusiasm and inspiration almost as much as experience and perspiration.

But here are a couple of painful truths: If I were in a hurry, I’d be young; it would be great to be 19 again, but only if I knew at that tender age what I know now.

The above sets up commentary on three old dudes—one of them a Northern Nevadan—plus thoughts on future prospects for our relatively young state and nation if we don’t heed such folks.

Please ponder first billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the man whose recent open letter thanked the Feds for making hay (or at least taking action) while the sun wasn’t shining. He praised late 2008 moves to salvage us from the credit crunch.

“On occasion, you are downright maddening,” he wrote in his New York Times open letter addressed to Uncle Sam. “But in this extraordinary emergency, you came through.”

Downright maddening is an understatement, from my perspective, and anyone reading this column during the recession and this pale recovery knows I’m no fan of the crew Buffett lauds. But let’s be clear: Buffett is right—action was needed in 2008.

He being left-leaning and me to his right, we don’t necessarily agree on the details. I’ll echo his thank you because the imperatives called for action, yet I remain angry with the bait-and-switch bailout that I knew at the time bankrolled bad banks.

Then there is George Shultz, even older than the octogenarian billionaire Buffett, who is touting clean energy and a book he wrote. The book by the economist affiliated with Stanford University covers diplomacy and negotiations (two sides seeking compromise); the energy pitch sounds similar themes.

“I think we have to get back to the old way of doing things,” said the former cabinet-level adviser to GOP presidents. By that, he told a mid-month UC Davis audience, he meant Republicans and Democrats must set aside partisanship to negotiate on clean energy issues. It’s another imperative.

Speaking at the California Governor’s Global Climate Summit 3, Shultz asked, “How many times do you have to get hit on the head with a two-by-four before you realize it’s time to take action?”

Don’t you love it when a rhetorical question says it all?

Next, let’s consider the third dude—the one right in our back yard. He is state Sen. William Raggio of Reno, ousted earlier this month as the Senate minority leader by his altered GOP caucus in the legislature’s upper chamber.

Raggio’s ouster ostensibly came because he endorsed Harry Reid, the U.S. Senator who then got re-elected and retains majority leadership in the upper house of Congress. Reid defeated Sharron Angle, the GOP nominee and his tea party-backed challenger.

By some accounts, Raggio in his mid-80s is a vain man. But he is one of the rare such men whose vanity is rooted in sanity due to ability. He got things done. His negotiating skills are/were needed on budgeting and redrawing political maps next year.

Octogenarians are our fastest-growing age cohort. There is much to learn from this group. China venerates and listens to the aging populace there. Nevada and the United States need to heed such wisdom.

Make age and guile the new style.