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Good-bye, Lone Ranger

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When I was a kid, my favorite radio hero was The Lone Ranger. Astride his horse Silver, he rode across the West fighting crime and corruption.

Here’s how it worked, in case you’ve forgotten. The Lone Ranger somehow learns of a small town suffering in the evil grip of a crook who is stealing mining claims, damming up the creek and charging exorbitant prices for water, or illegally acquiring land needed for the railroad. Meanwhile, the crook controls the people, through terror, by hiring gunslingers to ride up and down the main street on Saturday night shooting their guns and generally acting out their anger and juvenile fantasies.

The Lone Ranger rides into this mess, and without requesting assistance, or even mileage, solves all the problems by shooting the bad guys in the hand. He requires no citizen support or participation. The townspeople crouch in fear in their homes occasionally peeking out the window to observe the miracle. Then without pausing for thanks he rides off into the sunset leaving a silver bullet as a keepsake of his visit.

He was better than a Federal Grant. He solved all the problems. People were not required to do a thing, not even sign a Civil Rights Compliance Declaration.

Americans still believe in the Lone Ranger, expecting easy answers that don’t require any involvement on their part. We prefer to have some outsider ride in, solve the problems while we watch from in front of our televisions or on golf carts. …

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