Just back from Peru, trekking through stunning and pristine mountain passes on the way to Machu Picchu where you meet masses of visitors swarming the remarkable lost Inca redoubt. Peru has a choice—they can follow Argentina and Chile and protect their stunning back country wilderness in Patagonia or they can let roads replace hiking trails and allow more rainforest intrusions. Already highly desirable and comfortable lodges have been built along one major trekking route, which I traveled. It wouldn’t be hard to turn trails into roads and eventually blacktop, and you hear chain saws hacking into red cedar forests along hillsides. My local guide thinks it’s “regrettably” inevitable that small subsistence farm communities turn into hotel tourist stops, and dusty strips of one-story houses at points along Inca trails transform into souvenir allies and bars.  That’s progress right?

In my hiking group were three Australian couples, all wondering “What’s wrong in the States?”  And they all had the obvious answer—“you need to spend less and tax more.” Well, duh. Sounds like Simpson Bowles.  How long will it take for us to wake up?

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