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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Doom and Gloom


The New York Times had an article yesterday by Piers Brendon in reference to an article in the Washington Post by E.J. Dionne Jr. concerning a diatribe by Vice President Biden. Biden very eloquently defended the sustainable power of the U.S. against all the people predicting the collapse of the U.S.
It seems that the doom sayers are quoting Paul Kennedy's Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.
It's not often that one of these super duper books everyone is talking about is one I own, have read, even quoted on this blog. In fact I use an excerpt from this book in my US History class to explain why Britain had to grant us independence and our failure in Vietnam and our eventual failure in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kennedy bases his assessment of the rise and fall of empires on economics. All empires eventually exceed the capacity of their economies to meet the greed of the leaders in expanding power. It's an insightful explanation of how Spain with all the gold and silver coming in from the New World became bankrupt in such a short time. He points out how England could not sustain an empire after exhausting it's economy with two world wars, but what caught my attention was how he placed England on the industrial power list and how it fit within it's natural resources.
Seen from the economic viewpoint he makes perfect sense and the figures do tell the tale in some instances, not all. If you take his logic to its ultimate conclusion the United States shortly will no longer be the world's largest economy. A fact many people are pointing out suddenly realizing that China and India are in the process of surpassing us. The fact that Bushco accelerated this situation by at least twenty years in their disastrous reign of stupidity seems lost on those blaming Obama for the situation, though he could do more to stop it. Japan after all is an exception to his equation. Japan has the population, but not the resources to an economic power, yet they manage it anyway. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations seems to work well with them.
In short resources and population will win out in the end and it looks like the US will eventually become the third largest economy based on resources and population. Is this the end of the world? Only in our pride. Kennedy points out that in 1980 the life of the average Englishman was much better than that of an Englishman in 1900, but they didn't feel like it was because their empire no longer ruled the waves. Somehow better technology, health care, income and life expectancy aren't as important as believing you're better than everyone else.
Is that all Americans have to live for? The right to strut around and say We're Number One! We do that quite a bit at the Olympics. Why are our athletes the only ones who drape themselves in the flag when they win a medal? Maybe it was understandable in 2002, even 2006, but really doesn't this get a little old? Standing on the podium and being proud as the national anthem is played is plenty. Being wrapped up in the flag is to me (and I may be tarred and feathered for this) a little "in your face" to the other countries.
Biden is also responding particularly to the Christian Right with their Rapture theology that this country will be destroyed. Hell they think the whole world will soon be destroyed and blame it all on immorality. Why they're still fighting the fight against, shit I'm tired of writing out the list tof the things they're against you know them all by now anyway. They love to trot out the Roman Empire to prove their point. The point by the way that Brenden in his article is refuting.
Question: where are the barbarian masses waiting to invade us? Is this why fundies and repugs are so anti immigration particularly from Mexico? Are they wanting to bankrupt our economy so they (immigrants) don't have a reason to come here?
Is the U. S. really going to be invaded and overrun?
  1. First we're not an empire like the Soviet Union or Ancient Rome that will break apart. I don't see us becoming 50 separate countries, though Texas might be a case of good riddance if they choose to secede.
  2. Our borders will stay the same, if we fail it will be internally because of a lack of will to fight for what America really stands for: namely individual freedom with a government controlled by the people not by corporations. What is ruining the U.S. right now is the lack of checks and balances. A legislature to timid to do its job, judiciary bought and paid for by corporations and an imperial presidency not contained by either of the other two. We now have presidents who declare war not congress. Presidents have the power to incarcerate citizens without charge or council and more sinisterly able to order the murder of citizens without oversight. How important are the powers denied to congress and the president in the constitution guaranteeing the people of Habeas Corpus and that a Bill of Attainder is not allowed. That the right of due process of law is now a quaint footnote in history is what is causing our country to fall. This was brought about by our own elected officials not by terrorists or invasion from another country.
  3. We've faced corporate rule before. Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft (Republicans) brought them to heel by breaking up the monopolies. Franklin Roosevelt tamed them with government regulation. Who will step up and face them down this time. Somewhere Obama and the democratic majority in congress needs to find the backbone to do it again.
  4. The greatness of America is not in how much money we make. It's our legal system which is based on spirit of the law, not letter of the law. When Common Law that prevails wealth follows for all. Civil Code stacks the deck for the aristocracy and we stop being a first world super power and become like every other third world country filled with graft, corruption and non-ending wars.
If there is an analogy between the U.S. and Rome it's not the analogy of 465, but more of the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. From a representative government to a dictatorship. How long will it be now that the American Patriot Act has effectively negated the rights of the accused to knowing why they've been arrested and an attorney, destroyed the concept of privacy from warrant less search and seizure. When torture and legalized assassination accepted presidential power. How long before Congress becomes a rubber stamp politburo permanently like it was under Bush. How long before the president does everything like the Emperors of Rome and all we are left with is the illusion of democracy? Does it take a Republican stooge elected president by corporate advertising ordering his favorite horse be named a Senator before it hits us?

2 comments:

Michael Manning said...

PM: There is a lot of gloom and doom on radio. I won't name any networks here, but the talk show circuit guests invariably are so negative. I often wonder what would happen if an optimistic guest appeared? I usually turn off the car radio when dark themes emerge.

P M Prescott said...

Watch Bill Maher on HBO. The Doom and gloom speakers talk so fast and so long no one else gets a chance to speak.
I don't drive much, but when I do the radio is for music or I put in a cd. I wonder who wants to listen to a lot if idiot talk while driving?